Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

“You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe Daylight Saving Time”
-- Dave Barry, 25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years

One thing that the arrival of Daylight Saving Time does for me: I have gotten back on my bike and have started riding to work again. This winter we had almost no snow and unseasonably high temperatures throughout; if there had ever been a winter to ride to work this was it. The thing is that I have had too many near misses and scary encounters in the dark of winter – snow or not – to make the practice appealing to me anymore. And so from November to mid-March I took the subway to work, reading my New Yorker and trying not to look like an off duty cyclist.

My commute: part of the Don Valley Trail
 The fortunate thing is that with no snow and ice around this spring, I can ride most of the way to work along off-road bike paths – usually blocked till April - leaving the pathetically gridlocked Toronto drivers to take out their rage on each other rather than on me. To boot, I have new shifters on my handlebars this spring, courtesy of my talented son who is a bike mechanic in his spare time.

In a couple of weeks I am off to Death Valley National Park for a week of cycling organized by the good people at Adventure Corps. The format of the training camp suits my Type B personality, with not a lot of compulsory hard core work and yoga and “Tea Social” breaks in the afternoons.

Badwater - love it or hate it
The week concludes with a Century event called the Hell’s Gate Hundred; with a name like that I expect it’s going to be a good workout. Within the first ten miles there is a vicious little climb along the innocuously named Artists’ Palette. Last winter I drove up to the turnaround point at the ghost town of Rhyolite and all I can recall is an endless climb to a mountain pass that was covered in snow. So no day at the beach at that end either.

I feel though that after surviving the infernal headwinds in the Death Valley Spring Century last year I am ready for anything.

My Cervélo R3 is beautifully tuned up and cleaned (also courtesy of a bike mechanic in the family). All I have to do now is lose 10 pounds and figure out how to climb 8,500 feet on my bike in the next three weeks.

Spring Flowers in Death Valley
 Or more likely…after a week of Corps Camp Shivasana poses and chamomile tea I might just be more in the mood to sit on the grass and watch the riders come and go.

As always, simply getting there with my bike box will be there greatest workout. The first time I went to Death Valley was in October 2008, three weeks after I had crashed and torn the ligaments in my Acromial Clavicular Joint; I carried my bags and pulled my bike box through the airports all with one arm. It should be half as hard this time, assuming I retain the use of both limbs for the next week.