Mystic River, Medford

I wear cycling gloves so that my hands don’t feel like I’ve just sat all of my Leaving Cert exams in one day. It’s the same reason I wear a padded arse on every cycle. With no real suspension or shock absorption, they are very much a necessity, especially with the god awful state of the roads as we emerge from Winter. I made a rule last year that I would always wear my Winter gear on any cycle colder that 60 degrees. While I mostly stuck to that, I did wear my fingerless gloves today and that was a mistake. It was far, far too cold to be a late April morning.

Temperature: 48 f | Wind Speed: 15 mph | Miles this month: 70.1m | Miles this year: 96.5m (1,903.5 to go)

The wind was also acting the bollocks this morning which is a dangerous combination with the cold. I’ve gotten pretty good at realizing when the wind is going to be a negative factor on a ride. Anything over 14 mph is going to mean some difficult headwinds at some point and will mean my legs will have to do some overtime. Anything below 10 mph and it would be a sin not to be out cycling unless it’s pissing rain. Given that I live in New England and it’s not yet summer and I have a job and a baby, perfect conditions are extremely hard to find so I really do have to make do and take chances anywhere I can get them. Of the seven cycles I’ve gone on, only one has approached anything like ideal conditions – and believe me I’ve been looking for them.

When I’m not cycling, I usually ignore the weather to my detriment, making plans only to get caught wearing a t-shirt on 40 degree weather or going to work and watching as 8 inches of snow fall during the day. For my cycling, I’ve taken to asking out Amazon Echo some simple weather questions. While she’s fairly reliable with the temperature, asking her about the likelihood of rain or the current windspeed is about as useful my gym membership during a global pandemic. The first time I realized this, she told me it was “breezy at 4.2 miles per hour.” I looked out at tree branches swaying in the breeze and decided it was probably just a stray gust. After a mile of cycling into the teeth of an abusive headwind, I stopped to consult my phone to see how far off she was.

The wind was currently blowing a solid 16 mph and had no plans of letting up any time soon. I managed another 10 miles that day before turning for home, cursing Alexa for putting me in this position and swearing that I would never trust her wind speed readings again. I’m happy to report that I never have but that I do occasionally ask her just to make sure she’s still hasn’t gotten her degree in anemometry. I’m starting to think she never will. Today she told me that it was currently 5.3 mph but that it would be 23 mph later. The American flag flying horizontally on the house across the street suggested that it might already be later.

I plowed on regardless and put in a respectable cycle, notching another pond on my bike post. There’s no pretty track around this one but rather a series of very busy roads. The one around Stone Zoo is always extremely poorly paved and I usually try to avoid it so I was pleasantly surprised that it was in decent shape today. The zoo was busy too which was great to see. To my shame, I haven’t been there since we moved to Stoneham. We did go many years ago around Christmas to see it all dressed up for the holiday. With an increasingly active child now we’ll have another excuse to go back soon.

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