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Letters From the Commute, Part III
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by Gary Timmons

I suppose a fundamental challenge for those of us crazy enough to try to continue commuting to work by bike through the winter is just plain motivation. It's hard enough to get ourselves out there on the bike on balmy mornings, but clipping into those pedals when the mercury dips toward freezing and that first bone-chilling wind of the morning cuts into you is a real wake up call! How then, do we resist the lure of the nice warm car or metro station on such days? Fellow club member Steve Patrick wrote to me recently with an idea that he uses to keep himself riding: he donates the metro fare cards that he would otherwise use to charity. That way, Steve says, he's more likely to start out on the bike in the first place and gets the added satisfaction of knowing he's contributing to a worthy cause. This is a great idea, Steve, and I appreciate your writing in to share it with us.

Any winter cyclist knows that those people who get everywhere by car in the winter don't know the true meaning of cold. Whether commuting or just doing a leisure time ride out there on one of those delightful days when the wind is cold enough to numb your face so your nose starts running and you don't even know that that little icicle is forming down the front of your ski mask -- that's the real thing!

Of course, an advantage that many who do venture out at this time of the year may notice is that repeated exposure to cold tends to make it much easier to bear. For example, I discovered during my first winter of commuting that after a few weeks of an hour out in the cold in the morning and another in the evening, the cold didn't make me shiver any more. I was also delighted to find in that first year that the number of head colds that I contracted took a nosedive, if you'll forgive the pun. I had been accustomed to getting two or three really solid ones of ten days or two weeks duration every winter. Suddenly, I wasn't getting any -- none. In fact, the benefits of that regular two hours of aerobic exercise, day in and day out don't end there, as many of us know. We can also enjoy sounder sleep, more resistance to stress both at work and at home, better overall mood and sense of optimism, even better digestion. I suspect there are other benefits that I'm overlooking. Why don't you other commuters write to me (see e-mail address below my name on the Pedal Patter masthead) about what gets you out there commuting on the bike and let's see if we can get a few more converts to the commuting life.

By the way, I'm especially curious about are all those people I see in downtown D.C. who are out riding their bikes in the snow. This, I'll admit, is not something I've ever attempted. Do we have any fellow commuters out there who aren't stopped by the snow? If so, let us know how you do it!

Whether riding in snow or not, wear those layers and stay warm out there, fellow commuters! See you next time.

more Ride Schedule

C * 30 * MD * 9:00 AM * Leave from VMP to join Friday Lunch Ride * Veirs Mill Park (VMP)

CANCELED CC * VA * 10:00 AM * Elk Run and BLT Clockwise * Brentsville Park (BVP) *45°

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Linda B. KolkoLinda is the C Ride Coordinator for MD & DC.