It’s been a pretty sad week here at the Rootchopper Institute. Actually, sad is a synonym for effing cold. I, for one, remain happy (because that’s what Argentinian malbeck does to me). I’d still be riding to work but for the sheets of ice and packed snow on the Mount Vernon Trail. I can handle the cold itself but the idea of crashing several times coming and going puts me off for some reason. That and the fact that my speed would drop to the single digits, which just happens to match the temperature around the time I would leave home. (This summer I plan to ride at the speed of temperature just for kicks. 85 on the MVT! Woot.) Four hours of bike commuting per day is a bit much, don’t you think.
So the truth of it is that I missed Friday Coffee Club today. There wasn’t any cake but @BobbiShaftoe showed up after her triumphant bike ride at the South Pole a week ago. Perhaps we should save the debriefing until an oppressively hot and muggy day in July.
The one good thing about the weather is that the back yard has about 3 inches of snow. So I could finally test out the snowshoes I bought on cabin-fever-induce impulse during Snowmaggedon, a massive DC snowstorm a couple of years back. Getting them on was a bit awkward but stomping around the backyard was a real treat. I should have bought some years ago.
My next winter-related acquisition will be a wovel. It’s a huge snow shovel that is connected to a big wheel. It’s very clever. It uses physics almost as effectively as @BobbiShaftoe when she’s was leaving me in the dust riding the hills of the Backroads Century. My friend Rocky has one (a wovel, not a @BobbiShaftoe). I realize the name Rocky evokes images of a muscular Italian but “Rocky” is a corruption of Rakesh. And Rakesh has been known to eat quiche now and then. Like me, he’s an economist and he figured out how to use his wovel the other day without making a single assumption. (Inside econ humor there, sorry.) Actually Rocky is the kind of educated consumer Sy Sims would have loved. If he bought it, it’s worth buying.
Last night I did actually ride albeit on Big Nellie mounted on a trainer in the basement. Not much of a workout, I’m afraid. Big Nellie on a wind trainer with a novel in my hands doesn’t really make it compared to outdoors. Just to keep it interesting I ride ladders. After every page I shift up until I max out my gears then I work my way down. Those few minutes in top gear are actually pretty nasty.
So how did I get to work, you ask? I drove. It was a nice change of pace, especially considering that most of the federal workers stayed home. One of the few things I look forward to when I car commute is listening to music.
This week’s cartunes were a live double CD from the Crossroads guitar festival, Neil Young Live at the Cellar Door, and a set of five studio Beach Boys albums, including Pet Sounds. The Neil Young CD is by far the best of the lot. I could listen to the Cellar Door version of “Expecting to Fly” on a continuous loop. Crossroads is a whole lot of different guitarists performing live. It’s a mixed bag but probably a good CD for a long road trip. The Beach Boys helped me attitudinally adjust to the arctic air we have here this week. Most of the first four albums are filled with songs with idiotic lyrics, except for several space-taking instrumentals (played, no doubt, by the Wrecking Crew of studio musicians rather than the Beach Boys). Most of Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson’s response to Rubber Soul, is a distinct improvement. The Phil Spector wall of sound is all but gone and the lyrics aren’t as insipid as Surfer Girl. Musically, it may be some of the Wrecking Crew’s best work. Pet Sounds inspired a lot of other bands, most notably the Beatles who used it as motivation when doing Sergeant Pepper. Truth be told, I liked only about half of it. The rest sounded like Brian Wilson was overreaching.
As far as biking is concerned, I won’t be overreaching until the trails are clear. Which means another sad week at the Institute lies ahead.