Saturday, February 26

Anti-Speed Friday

Without getting all "AA" on here I think I should explain a little bit about myself and how I truly feel about cold weather commuting (and briefly on commuting in general).

During the last semester of my undergraduate incarceration I was officially diagnosed with ADHD. Now, before you go jumping to the obvious conclusions, ADHD is sort of a sliding scale of symptoms that can be manifested in degrees. On one end there is "attention deficit" and on the other is "hyperactivity." I weigh in hard on the "attention deficit" side, if at all. I say that because there is also speculation on Team Pavement's Edge that a more accurate diagnosis would have been SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder, or for those more sticklery about it: Sensory Integration Dis-whatever).

I'm gonna throw out a fancy word and then completely fail to explain it. Co-morbid. Anyway, my exhibited behaviors seem to me (and to my in-house professional) to lean more toward sensory defensiveness and sensory cravings than actual attention deficit, but my official diagnosis (by a grad student) is ADHD not SPD. I could go into a long anecdotal history, but I'll spare you the anguish. What this means in the context of a cycling blog is not this: money.

What it does mean is that my desire to ride a bike goes beyond mere cognitive awareness of the health benefits associated with cycling, or a hipster need to feel all green and ecological and is in fact wrapped up in the more "primitive" parts of my brain.

Riding a bike is sensory therapy for me. What "Ramming Speed Friday" means to me is that I have put forth all of my physical effort into getting that bike going as fast as I possibly can to carve into turns, blast down grades and feel the earth moving around me. I need to feel gravity and inertia on a massive scale to wipe away a day and a week of sitting still, unmoving, staring at a computer screen and talking into a phone. I need to get my nervous system fired up to clean out the sensory pipes and put the whole affair behind me.

It's kind of unfortunate that my commute to work is uphill. It would be great for me if I could get the same effect before a day of work. I'm not saying my slow crawl up to Golden is without merit, but I think I get more out of pushing the bike to maximum warp.

That's one form of therapy. The other is cold. I have always preferred cold, or otherwise inclement weather. I enjoy being out in the rain, the wind, the cold and the adverse pounding conditions that can blow through in winter. I like the conditions of winter for the same reason I like to get the bike going on a headlong course toward destruction: sensory input.

I am fortunate to be a little heat engine anyway, so I can stave off the chill of cold air fairly well. What I get out of the exchange is total sensory stimulation: my skin, lungs, eyes, and wiggly piggies all reacting to the cold. It's not entirely uncomfortable now that I've started learning to dress more appropriately for winter commuting.

Because of all of this I find it terribly amusing when people look at me as I walk in from the cold, covered in snow, skin angry red and they shiver and call me crazy. I've never really explained to anyone why I actually enjoy the cold. I guess it wouldn't make them think me any less crazy. I will add that because of this lifelong predilection for adverse weather I am truly competent at getting out in the worst of it and surviving with the greatest margin of safety. I know what I'm doing.

Some of the happiest moments in my recreational life have been staring into the face of a howling winter storm with a happy grin on my face.

My prediction was correct. This evening was not another edition of "Ramming Speed Friday." While the roads and paths appeared free of snow they did appear damp and the temps were lacking in Fahrenheit. I held my speed in check, enjoying the cold.

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