Saturday, January 1, 2011

15 miles less to go...

About 12 years ago I did the New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge in Lake Michigan. At that time, I lived about 3 miles from Bradford Beach in Milwaukee, where the event occurs. So I filled up my backpack with an extra change of clothes and  towel, and roller-bladed to the site. Back in the '90s, I was a competitive speedskater. Sure I had a car, but skating just seemed like the logical way to commute to this annual rite of passage. Hmmm, there's a question open for debate: "Do Polar Bears use logic?". Well, I skated it to the lake, took the plunge, skated back home, and never got sick. But I'm pretty sure that will be the only time I'll feel a need to play that game.

Originally I had planned to bicycle to the plunge today, just to watch, and possibly to photograph. But with a high of 21 degrees and winds up to 40 mph, I decided to sleep in and make buttermilk pancakes for breakfast for my wife and me. She was pleased with my decision. But later this afternoon, when Linda announced that she was going to her health club to get in a swim, I realized that there was still an opportunity to get that first ride of the year in. So I set out on my road bike for the first time in months. Anyway, I had just purchased a new set of race wheels from a guy on craigslist (for about half the price of brand new ones), and if nothing else it was an excuse to find out how they rode. Seeing that the temperature and wind hadn't changed much from the original forecast, I limited my ride to 20 miles. And that was just enough to keep my extremities from going into a deep-freeze of their own.

The new wheels rode nice, but mostly, it just felt so good to be on the road bike again! That bike fits me so much better than my W.A.S. (Winter Assalt Vehicle), so I felt like I was back home again. While on the ride, I pondered about the mileage goal to set for this new year. In 2010 that goal was 6,000 miles, and I ended up doing just over 6,500 when I include last month's "snow-commutes" to work. For 2011, I think I'll go for 7,500 miles. Lord willing, I can make that goal. After all, last year I didn't really start training until March. And after today's ride, I've already got 20 miles under the belt. Now to finish off those leftover buttermilk pancakes...

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