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lucid thoughts

January 23, 2003 Thursday


I ride my bike to work daily...rain, shine, snow, ice, hot, doesn't matter. Everything is fair game.

I've done rides lately at -18 with a wind chill at -37 but I wasn't hit by the wind. So it's no biggie. However, tonight's night ride home was a different story. It was -15 with wind chill at -30. From my point of origin to my point of destination, a mere 15-minute ride, I was hit head on by the full blast of arctic-like wind. It was strong it felt like riding uphill in absolute zero temperature. 5 minutes into the ride, I couldn't feel my fingers anymore. 10 minutes into it, I was beginning to feel a painful numbness. I was getting scared. My 4-fingered Canondale winter gloves were practically useless. I was feeling the brunt of what -30 is all's piercing and absolutely unforgiving. To preserve warmth, I closed my fists and rode by pressing on the handlebars with my knuckles. That helped a bit. My biggest relief was reaching home. I soaked my fingers in warm water until I could feel its dexterity again. I couldn't help but think about an article I read in Vanity Fair about the century's 10 best explorers. I remember one of them, Sir Ranulph Fienes, putting his petrified fingers on a vise and hacked it using a fretsaw to prevent the onslaught of gangrene. Yeah...I was scared.

I once experienced -45 with the wind-chill as a pedestrian. I closed my eyes but I felt my eyelids freezing. It happened for just a few seconds but reaching the comfort of the indoor felt like a lifetime. The experience is still vividly etched in my mind. That temperature is even below the tempestous convergence of Fahrenheit and Centigrade (-40) in nature. I've always wondered what it might feel to ride at that temperature. I was actually hoping that moment would come. But I'm glad I got my jolt first with -30 before the -45. That made me aware that my equipment is not designed to withstand that temperature. I have to do more thinking about clothing...fingers and toes specially. -45 will inevitably come. Maybe not this season but it will come. I'd like to make sure I'm ready when it does.

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