Monday, January 21, 2008

Pugs or studs?

That is the question
Whether it is best to have fat
Or to have grip
to plow through the deep,
Or lean into a corner.

Will it snow today,
Or will the Chinook blow in?

Each day in the winter begins with a question:
Riding or Driving?
This year, the second question is:
Which bike?

For me, the riding or driving question depends on the temperature. Which bike is a little more complex. Now that we have the Pugsleys along with our commuters - rigid Raleigh frames with SnowCat rims & 2.3 studded tires - sometimes it's just not obvious.

I didn't know the Pugs would handle as well as it does on the intermittent ice. Mostly it handles well. So well, in fact, that I've been riding it more than my studded bike. But yesterday, with the thermometer reading 30 degrees by 9am, we figured it was a good day for the studs. You don't always know which direction the weather will take, but safe to expect it to get warmer. And more slick.

The rain made it more than just a wet ride home. The streets and paths were glazed with a hard layer of ice that sounded like popcorn under our tires. After being on the Pugs, the Raleigh rode fast and I had to remind myself that I could lean into the corners a bit. Pushing higher gears on the Raleigh made me think about that first time on the road bike in the spring - how light it feels after pedaling all that extra weight around all winter.

Rain and sleet hit my exposed cheeks and nose, needle-like darts stinging while I pulled up my neck gaitor. One gust nearly stopped me from turning over my pedals as we made our way up Abbott Road. Not so easy now.

Once in the park, we hopped onto Moose Track Trail. The heavy use followed by the rain caused the trail to set up hard and fast - bomber. And, unlike many rides home at the end of the day, I had great energy. While I'm sure others were sad at the first Chinook of the new year, (not to mention mourning the Green Bay loss) it was a fun ride home.

Sometimes my friends (and even strangers) ask me how many bikes I have. I feel a little embarrassed counting them on my fingers. But, in the last week, I rode 3 of them. Granted, one was my road bike on the trainer. But I use bikes the way others use a car and a gym membership. Sure, I even drive a few times a week. But having the right bikes in the stable ups my commuting days, especially this winter. Can't feel too embarrassed about that.

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