10 Things I Learned from 30 Days of Biking

10 Things I Learned from 30 Days of Biking
My trusty Iseo taking a break along the Bearskin Trail near Minocqua WI

30 Days of Biking comes to an end today.  National Bike Month and the National Bike Challenge officially begin tomorrow.

While I sit mulling the take-away of one challenge while preparing for another, here are ten observations I made about bicycling in April:

10.  April is no longer the tentative start date of cycling season.  I am officially cured of my less-than-perfect weather phobia.

9.  Never trust weather.com.  It won’t warm up as quickly as forecast.  The wind will be stronger.  It won’t rain when there’s a 70% chance, but will rain when it’s at 10%.  One is better off standing outside, looking up at the sky, and holding a wet finger in the air…

8.  When in doubt, wear wool.  If it’s cold out, wool will keep you warm.  If it warms up faster than weather.com predicted, it’s the best material for wicking away sweat and cooling you off.  It’s the cycling equivalent of being inside a Thermos bottle…

7.  April winds really blow.  Cold temps yield cold air.  Cold air creates a wind chill factor.  Riding against double-digit wind speeds is the same as climbing a hill that has no crest.  The best you can do is start out against the wind so the ride back is more enjoyable.  (FYI, 2/3 of April featured wind speeds over 10mph – more than 1/3 over 20mph)

6.  Sometimes the shortest distance between two points can only be found by bike.  If you don’t believe me, compare a short errand by bike against one by car on Google Maps.  The closer either the start or end point is to a bike trail, the greater the likelihood that the bike route is shorter.  There is no real time savings for driving less than two miles, so why not ride a bike instead?

5.  Road bikes aren’t nearly as fragile as we fear them to be.  Thin, slick, high-pressure road bike tires were certainly designed to be ridden on smooth, unbroken surfaces.  An occasional detour along a crushed limestone bike path won’t break a spoke or flatten a tire any more easily than a pothole-riddled city street.  If my everyman road bike can be raced professionally on ancient cobblestone streets in Belgium and France (and finish in the top 20), it will definitely survive a ride on the Prairie Path

4.  Lunchtime Loops eliminate all excuses.  When worried about squeezing in a daily ride, there’s always the lunch hour.  Odds are in your favor for the day’s best temperature and even 15 or 30 minutes on the bike can be effective exercise.  All you need is a short, traffic-free loop near your place of work.  As an added bonus, your post-ride aroma will keep annoying co-workers away the rest of the afternoon…

3.  Wild turkeys can be mistaken for dogs, especially when they’re running away from you on the bike path.  Woodchucks are also a paranoid lot, constantly looking over their shoulders as they flee their natural predator, the bicyclist.  Geese are slow to yield right-of-way and robins are 50/50 for flying or hopping out of your path.

2.  Deer in Central Minnesota prefer traveling on the Munger Trail.  This must be true as I saw no less than one hunter’s tree stand per mile along the way from Hinckley to Finlayson.  It’s either that or there is a regimen of armed sharpshooters who protect vulnerable cyclists from random attacks by the mysterious Pine People…

1.  A bad day on the bike is still better than a good day in the gym.  Riding into a headwind in a “feels like” temperature of 33 degrees with snain pelting your cheeks and speckling your sunglasses is still a more exhilarating workout than pedaling a stationary bike at the YMCA.  Catching an unseasonable 70-degree, sunny day with a single-digit wind from the south is nirvana!  Unless there’s snow on the ground or a violent storm, every cell in my body appreciates the extra effort of providing it outside air for respiration.

I’m certain I realized some other truths, but I’ll just have to save that material for another post since riding every single day tends to cut down on writing time…

Keep riding and be safe!

 

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