The Lowest Temperature Ever Recorded

snow covered railroad tracksLike many (perhaps all?) cyclists I am obsessed with the weather and I scrutinize the forecast at least several times a day. It is how I always begin and often end my day.

This morning was no different. When the alarm started ringing at 3:22, I rolled out of bed and dragged myself over to my laptop to see what type of weather I would be dealing with on my commute.

Sometimes when I check the weather I am thrilled by what I see, other times I am disappointed and occasionally what I see makes me quake in my boots. But this morning was the first time that the weather report made me laugh.

Still half-asleep, I had glanced at the temperature that my local weather station was reporting.

-9999.0

Yikes, that is kinda cold! I decided I should either put on all of the clothes that exist in the world before venturing outside, or refresh the webpage. While I was refreshing the page a few times, the weather station apparently experienced a heat wave and began reporting 16F. Sixteen degrees is downright balmy after that type of cold! So either my town set a record for the lowest temperature ever or there was a slight glitch in the system. Personally, I think we set a record.

After that interesting start to the morning, I had a funny feeling about how the rest of the day would be. But it was a great day. It snowed during my ride to work, great big fluffy flakes-my favorite, and then it was brilliantly sunny on the way home, making the new snow sparkle like diamonds.

 

When the Snow Smiles Back

ice walls with bikeSnow makes me smile all the time. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day it would smile back.

On my commuting route there is a stretch of flat road that follows the river. For some reason or another, the majority of the exciting experiences I have while commuting happen on this section of road. (Personally, I think it is because the river is magical.)

Monday afternoon I was biking calmly toward home, wrapped up in my own little world when I came to this stretch of road.

Suddenly, I realized that today I was not the only one hanging out of the shoulder of the road.

There were hundreds of smiley faces inhabiting the asphalt. Salt from the plow trucks combined with the weather conditions had created an entire community of smiling snow patches.DSC02465

DSC02464DSC02466Not every face was a perfect representative of the classic smiley face, but the vast majority had an uncanny likeness.

I couldn’t contain my own smile for the next mile of my commute. How could I? There were little faces peering up and grinning right at me!

The next time someone asks me why I bike through the winter, I will just tell them,

“If I didn’t bike, I would miss out on the smiley faces!”

Cyclists as Herders

Yesterday evening, my four year old nephew and I were talking about Border Collies and how they herd sheep.

“Why do the dogs hurt the sheep?” He asked.

Oh dear. I tried to explain the difference between “herd” and “hurt”, but I had the feeling he was more than a little confused. So I showed him a few minutes of this youtube video.

 

My little nephew was fascinated and before long, he and his younger brother were chasing their eighteen year old uncle around the dining room. Apparently, he was the closest thing to a sheep that they could find to herd.

But there is one thing that I neglected to tell my nephew about herding animals. And that is that cyclists are pretty awesome in their own right as animal herders.

This morning, as I was biking to work in the dark, I spotted two deer standing by the roadside. As I neared them, they stood silently, staring deeply into my headlight.  A vehicle came toward us from the opposite direction and I became a bit concerned: what if the deer decided to make a mad dash across the road and the car crashed into them?

I shouldn’t have worried. As I continued pedaling toward them, the deer suddenly realized-

“That is not a car!!”

And in a panic, they hightailed it for the woods.

It seems bizarre, but animals seem to trust speedy cars more than a person biking slowly by. I guess it is desensitization; they see car after car pass by day after day and they just get used to it. But around here, a cyclist is enough of a novelty to seem like an unknown danger.

So the fact that animals are afraid of me, combined with my slower, safer pace make me an ideal animal herder. I am so ideal that I think I will ask the Department of Transportation to give me a stipend for the role I play in keeping animals off the road.

After all, I have a great resume. I have herded sheep, cows, turkeys, mice, deer, snakes, turtles, rabbits, skunks and other animals to safety, away from the road.

Please realize, however, that I am still a novice. I can’t, for the life of me, direct dogs to get off the road. With a dog, I am the one who gets herded.

Making the most of the 2015 election.

DSC01681My bike and I ran some errands around town this morning, making a stop at the fire hall to vote. Election day is exciting. Well, at least I was excited about it until yesterday. Then I realized that we have one more entire year to endure the mudslinging and empty campaign promises of the 2016 presidential election.

Not cool.

When I stepped into the voting booth this morning, I decided that I did not want another year of endless political campaigning. I made up my mind. I was gonna stop whining and do something.

DSC01687So I took my ballot and wrote in another column. This is a free country. I figure if we can “write in” candidates, we can certainly “write in” columns!  In my newly invented presidential election column, I penned in each major party with the candidate that is most likely to win the primary. Then I spent a few minutes in deep thought before shading in my selection.

The final step was feeding my ballot into the voting machine.

Boom! The 2016 presidential race is over! That was easier than I thought.

The Best Reason to Drink Just Water

file6051296990607

 
For over a year water has been my only beverage. I realize this is not exactly normal human behavior but one fact that I have discovered prevents me from drinking anything else.

 

In 2013 I was a your typical twenty-something. In the course of an entire year I drank-

-10 to 15 glasses of lemonade
-10 to 15 mugs of hot chocolate
-half a glass of milk
-3 to 5 bottles of orange soda
-5 to 10 glasses of juice
-some water

That means that in the course of a year I spent quite a bit of money on beverages. Here is my estimate of how much I spent.

-10 to 15 glasses of lemonade (free at work)
-10 to 15 mugs of hot chocolate (gift from Christmas)
-half a glass of milk (drank at my parent’s house after making peanut butter cookies)
-3 to 5 bottles of orange soda (free at work, nice perk, huh?)
-5 to 10 glasses of juice (drank at work, at my parent’s house or while babysitting)
-some water (free from various taps)

So apparently I spent nothing on drinks in 2013, but that is not the issue here. The main point is that I spent 2013 drinking lots of stuff that was not water.

Now compare this to last year, in which I drank only water. My life completely changed beverage-wise. Why the change? How could I suddenly quit drinking everything besides water?

Thank you for asking. One day I  suddenly  discovered a fact that changed my life forever. After my realization I will never go back to my normal beverage-guzzling habits.

The fact I discovered is that water is the only thing I like to drink.

So simple, yet so profound. I decided to take a stand, from this time forward I resolved that I would only drink what I wanted to drink and I only want to drink water. Why all the beverage hate? Let’s do a quick rundown.

Lemonade: Great until I realized that I prefer to eat a slice of lemon dipped in sugar.
Fruit Juice: Usually too sweet or doesn’t really taste like the fruit specified. Why drink juice when fruit itself is so awesome?
Soda: I realize that it is super healthy but it burns my throat and mouth.
Tea: Yuck.
Coffee: People take perfectly good water and then turn it a nasty, bitter brown. This is the definition of water pollution.
Hot Chocolate: I can never figure out a good temperature to drink it at. It is always too hot or too cold.
Milk: I only want to drink it after eating peanut butter cookies, and when you really think about it drinking plain milk from a cow is kinda gross. I just remembered that dairy farms are an important part of my local economy. I love milk, I just don’t choose to drink it. Got milk? Get some more.
All other beverages: I don’t care if I never tried you, I don’t like you, deal with it.

You probably think I am a really picky person but that isn’t true when it comes to food. My food hate list is short it includes only liver and blue cheese. Anything else that I have eaten I would eat again; chicken feet, squid and bone marrow are great.

Away I go through life, a twenty three year old who loves food but despises drinking anything besides water. This should be interesting.