Carpe Diem, The Series: “DID SOMEONE STEAL THE SUN?!”
For those of us who live around the Great Lakes area, we share a common affliction. The month of November is probably the dullest month of the year in terms of what seems like endless grey skies, falling leaves and temperatures, not to mention the constant threat of rain and wind. It can be days or even weeks before the sun pokes its beaming mug from behind the clouds. Couple that with significantly shorter days and it is not exactly postcard pretty out there.
Our cycling season is coming to a close and even when we decide on a date, it is usually left as a ‘game time decision’ as the weather becomes a constant factor. This will continue for the next few months but spring will return at some point and we may get really lucky and have a few flukey days over the winter when the temperature is at least a few degrees above the freezing point and the roads are dry enough to allow for a safe ride. Those skinny little tires on a road bike offer no challenge to even a wee bit of snow or ice on the road. Hit that stuff and you are at the mercy of fate, which more often than not does not end well.
We do, however, have one of those ‘rails to trails’ pathways here in Sarnia and it would be conducive to a mountain or hybrid type bike. I have walked chunks of it several times but have never really done its length on a bike so I may have to give it a try. It’s about 15 km long so doing a return trip doubles that (no calculator required!). It’s well protected by trees on both sides, so wind is usually not a factor and that alone will get a nod of approval from me.
Winter Will Always Steal the Sun
With cycling definitely waning, hockey fortunately has been able to step up and fill in some of the activity gap and I have complimented this with increased trips to the gym. During the better weather, I and my fellow Manditos (our cycling group here in Sarnia) would be on the road two or three times a week doing about 175-200 kms in total. That meant I would make the trip to the gym once, maybe twice weekly so I was able to get a decent bit of exercise generally every other day or about four or even five days a week. That seemed to work well for me as in between I had a lengthy ‘honey-do’ list of jobs to be done around our older house. So there really wasn’t a lot of down time.
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If I was a younger man (I’m 62), I might have stepped that up a bit but I have come to understand and accept that overdoing it at this age can be as harmful as a lack of activity. A day of recovery, or at least using different muscles in different ways can leave you feeling ready for the next intensive workout. I think if I tried to do a series of back-to-back workouts, I would have paid a price on the fatigue scale as the week wore on.
The Ill Winds of November
One of the local bike shops in town will be hosting what they call the “Ill Winds of November Ride” this weekend. I didn’t participate last year as when I woke up to check on the weather that day, it was very windy with threatening skies. Time to pull the covers up over my head and think about it for the following year. A couple of the Manditos braved the elements only to later report that the wind was so strong in the plentiful open areas around here, it was difficult to keep your bike upright.
Does that sound like fun or what?! I can’t say that I was sorry to miss that one although I have it in my schedule to give it a shot this weekend. It will be the final organized ride of the year so I am hoping for at least manageable conditions and that means moderate winds, temperature above freezing, and definitely no snow!
Related Article: Carpe Diem, The Series: Winter Sports for the Adventurous
As the Seasons Change, Change It Up
November certainly represents a time of transition in terms of what activities you might do but do you also find that it causes a change in your diet? During the warmer months, we make better use of our BBQ at the house. The BBQ and its bounty, however will be usurped by the likes of soups and stews with the arrival of cold, wet weather. Heartier meals of this type seem to fit well with the prevailing weather and who can argue with filling yourself with warm and tasty meals?
Oh sure, we can get pretty much get whatever we want via environmentally insensitive trucking but nothing beats the flavor of local produce and this probably applies to any number of regions, just about anywhere. Produce doesn’t sweeten as nicely in a transport truck as it would under the sun.
The Benefits of Change
Change is the name of the game in November and I have often thought of how boring it would be to live in a tropical area. The sun comes up at the same time and sets at the same time just about every day. The temperature also stays the same, varying between hot and hotter, so that too would become repetitious. Trying to maintain a personal fitness regimen can be challenging enough. The failure to change it up every now and again is often recited as a key reason why too many people don’t stick with a program.
The change in weather promotes a re-think of activities and variety can certainly maintain your interest level and even make you look forward to those activities that you might prefer to do outdoors in the warmer weather.
So, the next time I look up into a grey November sky, I will consider myself fortunate that I live in an area that offers me a chance to do other things. Now, it’s just up to me to do them!
Your friend, Paul.
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