The Winter Challenge

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I spend a lot of time concocting new challenges and adventures in my head as I slowly cycle along on my various adventures …

Example – why not ride Japan on a folding bike.

Unfortunately, I’m not so good at actually seeing most of them through.

I essentially have the motivation of a sloth.

But … I’ve dreamt up a new challenge for winter, and rather un-originally I’ve called it “The Winter Challenge”, and it’s quite simple – the challenge is to ride my bike into work more days during winter than I don’t.

I’m still working out the rules to this little challenge (and fully expect to abandon it well before the rules are determined, never mind the month of June half gone) but regardless here is what I’ve come up with so far …

To be successful, I have to ride to and from work at least three times per week.

That by the way is slightly harder than it sounds, as I usually have to pick up or drop off the Monsters at least one day per week, and I do not ride Friday’s … so pretty much I have to ride every other day of the week.

Did I also mention it’s a 19km, 56 minute, commute to my work, along generally poorly maintained, narrow shouldered, busy roads?

I have exempted myself from riding days where (for example) I have to drive a work car in because I have to go to Launceston for work, or if I’m sick.  If we were talking about this in tennis terms, then these days would count as a ‘let’.

On all other days I either get a point for riding in, or winter gets a point, because I drove.

Example 1 – One Point to Winter.

So, week one of this challenge is now under the belt … and I think the most amazing thing is not that I won the week, but that I didn’t give up on what is proving to be a particularly ridiculous and pointless challenge …

Day 1 (Monday) – First day of winter – First hitch – Kim needs me to pick up Zara and a friend after school and take them to gymnastics at 3pm.  After a bit of discussion we realise I can get away with using her car to do this and so I’m off on my bike. There’s a cold headwind, and it starts raining about 5 minutes from home … that leaves only 51 minutes to go in cold rain. No worries.  It stops raining after about ten minutes, but I get to work cold, wet and freezing.  I have a shower and convince myself that it all wasn’t so bad.  Wish I’d brought a warm jacket in though.

That afternoon when I climb back into my cold and wet clothes I decide that this is the singularly most stupid idea I’ve had (this week) and seriously consider taking the bus home.  Already decided that the first ten minutes on the bike are the worst.  Riding in the dark, at night … that’s nice.  End result  – Day 1 to me, score 1:0

Day 2 (Tuesday) – Still in the “this is new and fun zone” so getting out on the bike on day two isn’t too hard.  I can’t however believe how frickin’ cold it is this morning.  Hobart is in shadow and there’s lots of snow on the mountain.  Still – it’s not raining.  I get into work (noticing a lot less cyclists than usual).  I also remember to bring in my puffer jacket.  I wear my puffer jacket for an hour at my desk until I defrost enough to take it off.

Decided that I really don’t enjoy the section of my day between turning off my computer and getting to the top of the hill just past the Clarence Aquatic Centre.  I also decide that whoever is doing the Rokeby to Clarence roadworks should be shot – I was riding along the ‘cycleway’ tonight and it was more like doing a Cyclocross as I rode through mud, grass verge, over gravel humps and through slippery mats.  Still … 2:0 to me!

Day 3 (Wednesday) – A planned day off as I have an early doctor’s appointment.  It is of course a beautiful clear day.  Score: 2:1

Day 4 (Thursday) –  This one for the win – and I’m on my bike.  Again it is bitterly cold this morning,  Coldest day so far, made worse by a fiercely cold Bridgewater Jerry …

Despite winter socks and gloves, my feet and fingers are frozen by the time I get to work.  I have an extra long shower to defrost.  Everyone at work takes great joy mocking me as I sit in my puffer jacket trying to warm up.

The ride home is particularly pleasant – until I get to Rokeby when I nearly kill myself on the bike track next to the roadworks – the nice ramp they built over the road verge has disappeared, and in the dark I almost slammed into an exposed gutter.  Coming down into Rokeby, the temperature suddenly dropped 4 or 5 degrees in a few hundred metres.  Still, who cares: The score is 3:1, which means week one to me.

Day 5 (Friday) – Just to be fair to winter it scored the win on Friday (as planned).  It was of course another beautiful clear morning ..

but who cares … the final score for the week is John 3: Winter 2.

Now … I wonder if there will be a week two … or whether I’ll get distracted by some other idea.

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