My standard 10-mile run to Jewel on a cool — all right, cold — overcast October afternoon. Needed wheat bread and Bac-Os for my standard diet of salad and low-sodium turkey sandwiches. Also I just needed some damned exercise. I felt turgid from a greasy breakfast and sitting in a car for the better part of two days.
I like to shop at Casey’s, a family-owned store, but at five miles round-trip, it’s gotten to be too “close” now that I’m riding almost every day. I’ve taken to hitting the Jewel on Rt. 59, which is about twice as long a ride.
The tires were down a few pounds in the cold, so I topped them off. I donned my ski helmet, a souvenir from last year’s ill-conceived skiing vacation. I’ll probably never go skiing again, but the helmet has nice cloth ear flaps and works extremely well for biking in the cold. Gloves and a bright orange sweatshirt.
I stash my reusable shopping bag in the pannier— I’m all about the carbon footprint, baby!— and set off into the damp chill.
I’m slowly finding back-street alternatives to the four-lane, divided nightmares that carry most of the east-west traffic in Naperville. There are sidewalks, but they’re rough and overhung with tree branches. Unfortunately, none of the streets go through, so it’s two blocks forward, two blocks sideways, one block backwards.
Once the muscles start to work, the chill rapidly recedes. There’s no wind to slow me down and make my eyes water. The streets are quiet on a Sunday afternoon. I settle into a rhythm and do the five miles to the store in about 20 minutes.
I’ve been dreading the idea of hanging up the bike again for five months and waiting out the winter. Maybe I don’t have to, if you believe the lunatics at BikeWinter.org. If the ski trip taught me anything (aside from “skiing is for other people”) it’s that it doesn’t really take that much physical activity to keep a properly dressed person warm at 15 degrees F.
Maybe I’m just deluding myself, but maybe I won’t be so quick to stow the bike away this year. What the worst that could happen, besides frostbite, hypothermia and death?