How Finland Gets People Biking Through Winter

This may not be a NEWS ALERT, but I’ve gone super soft.

When I lived in Norway for a few winter months, I commuted to the University everyday on a mountain bike. At times, like skiing in fresh powder, I had a lot of fun making virgin tracks in 10-15cm of snow on a dedicated bike path. Everyone says I have amazing bike handling skills. And they’re right.

Fast forward a decade and I spend the winter spinning easily indoors while watching Frontline documentaries.

I need a kick in the ass or a ticket to Oulu, Finland. Or both. Here’s how Oulu, Finland gets 27% of it’s population to cycle to and from work all brutal winter long.

I think Dan, Dan, Washington State’s Transpo man should accompany me on my trip to Oulu. He has so much to learn.

“Oulu’s bike lanes are the result of decades of municipal leadership. The city’s first cycling plan was developed in 1969. . . . It was understood early that walking and cycling [have] to be treated as equal modes of transportation.

In this context, winter maintenance of bike routes is a natural extension of investments in cycling infrastructure. . . . .Keeping cycling routes open year-round was there from the beginning. Citizens never had to fight for it. . . . It was very much a civil servant-driven process.

The local government continues to prioritize active transportation, especially when the temperatures drop. Starting in October, Oulu is launching a new level of ‘super’ maintenance for cycling infrastructure during the winter months. Essentially, 15 per cent of the network, or about 150 kilometeres, will be maintained 24 hours a day.”

Given his Midwestern mix of charisma and charm, I’m sure Dan, Dan, WaState’s Transpo man can convince MC and everyone else in Washington to pay more in taxes to replicate Oulu’s commitment to cycling infrastructure including a nice cushion for winter maintenance.

At which point I won’t have any excuses for being a full-fledged winter weather wuss.

Bonus vid.

 

 

 

Hire Me

Dear World Pro Cycling Teams:

I appreciate the opportunity to apply for your position as Performance Enhancing Drugs Wordsmith.

Let’s review where we are. Today’s news that the world’s best cyclist in a routine anti-doping test conducted at the Vuelta a España in September had double the legal limit of 1,000ng/ml of his asthma medication floating around his system, led Chris Froome to say this in his defense:

“My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage.  As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose”. 

It’s imperative your riders mount a more credible defense than Froomey when their time in the performance enhancing drug spotlight inevitably comes. That’s where I’m confident you’ll find my services are a bargain at $50,000 per incident.

Every failed test is a little different requiring a true craftsman who can contextualize in a heartbeat. Here’s a little flavor flav of possible talking points for your team’s next PED presser. The first I call the “deflection”, which you’ll find far more subtle than the second, “faux confessional”.

•  “Like climate change, these results are more fake science compliments of a vast left-wing conspiracy. Over the millennia, there have always been abnormal tests results like these just as there have always been changing weather patterns. Noam Chomsky and my other accusers are sad (sick) guys. Maybe my critic-crybabies should train harder.”

•  “The reports of my failed drug test are true. Regretfully, starting several years ago, I succumbed to the drug-addled culture of the peloton and the pressure of my team’s docs to conform. I am ashamed and embarrassed by the vapidity of my “means justifies the ends” morality. Once I got accustomed to riding in the front of the peloton, I couldn’t help myself. I am not proud of my actions and I am sorry to have perpetuated a hoax on cycling fans the world over. I plan on taking extensive time off the bike to make amends to all of my sponsors, teammates, and fans.  [Long pause followed by bursts of laughter.] Kidding of course. Fuck you guys and your fake science. Maybe my critic-crybabies should improve their drug regimens.”

Similarly, I have a bevy of “hidden motor” responses in the quiver too. I look forward to hearing from. You can reach me at PedWordsmith@gmail.com.

 

On Hunger

I took a total looker to the Hippy Theatre last weekend. Thinking I might get some action, we sat in the balcony, but alas, a few other people, too close for comfort, kept me from making much of a move.

We saw All the President’s Men, thinking of it as a prequel to Mueller’s probable findings.

There’s a pivotal scene early on, when two lowly Washington Post reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, begin reporting on the Watergate break in. A senior editor says Woodward and Bernstein are not nearly experienced or skilled enough for what could end up being a national story (understatement). He advises Ben Bradlee to hand off their initial reporting to some established heavyweights. “They’re hungry!” their direct editor argued. Bradlee, conflicted, bet correctly on youthful ambition.

Cyclists routinely let off the gas after cresting hills. Their pedal cadence slows as soon as they begin descending, sometimes to the point of stopping altogether. “I’ve worked hard enough,” legs say to the brain, “I deserve a break.”

Many reporters and people coast, to varying degrees, once accomplished, however they define that. Of course there are outliers, oldsters who continue to grind well past the point of most of their peers.

As evidence of the fact that I’m not nearly as hungry as my younger self, rewind the tape eighteen months. Shortly before moving, I “organized” an underwhelming garage sale. Fewer than normal people showed because of my half-ass marketing. I hollered something sarcastic at my friend across the street like, “Dig the traffic jam!” To which he astutely replied, “You’re not hungry.” Touché. The truth of the matter was, a bit of bacon wasn’t nearly as motivating as saving a few trips to Value Village, which as it turned out, wasn’t much motivation either.

I’m not nearly as Ambitious as in the past, but I’m still ambitious. I care more about personal improvement than professional accomplishment. I want to learn to listen more patiently, to be increasingly selfless, caring, and loving.

That’s a type of hunger. Isn’t it?

 

 

My Life as a Triathlete

Last night right before bed I got a text from downstairs, “Weren’t you supposed to do a triathlon today?”

A couple of weeks ago I told the Good Wife I was thinking about doing an Olympic triathlon in Portland on July 30th. But I’ve become so flaky about racing the last few years that comment didn’t register with her, so a couple of days ago she suggested that after church we go to Alderbrook for brunch with the in-laws. Which is how I spent imaginary triathlon day.

Once I had eaten my vegetarian omelete and killer breakfast potatoes at Alderbrook, cruised Steamboat Island, and returned home, I turned my attention to how a friend was doing at Ironperson Canada in Whistler, B.C. She was 90% through the run and in first place in her age group, so I sporadically checked in to see if she won and thereby qualified for the World Championship in October in Kona, which happily she did.

I also checked on the 55-59 year old men to see how I would’ve probably done. Because I’m experienced, time my training sessions, and often train with others who do race, I can estimate pretty damn accurately how fast I would’ve gone over the 140.6 miles. I would’ve finished second out of 29 geezers.

This is what I do. I train, I think about racing, but I don’t actually register for any events. I even have a built-in excuse for not racing in our local triathlon each June. Too short.

My hangups are many. I need a good sports psychologist if you have a recommendation. I need to either turn off my computer and put on my wetsuit or come to grips with what I texted back. “It appears as if I’m retired from competition.”

IMG_0760.JPG

A picture from my last triathlon.

Who Are You Drafting Off Of?

Like a lot of introverts, my need for solitude sometimes seems insatiable. Yet, I’m keenly aware we are social beings and that we need others to accomplish much of anything and to have any meaningful shot at genuine happiness.

Even though you won’t find me in the Nisqually Delta with binocs, DSLR camera, and ginormous lens dangling from my neck, or listening to bird calls on my iPad, I enjoy watching the birds we share our new spot with. Yesterday’s airshow was especially good. Two bald eagles took turns nipping each other (foreplay?) while a cormorant glided by obliviously . I also can’t get enough of watching geese and other migratory birds fly by in small, medium, and large “V’s”.

Migratory birds draft off of one other for the same reason cyclists do, to save about 25% of their energy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also also benefit somehow from the social aspect of flying together.

Are you an investor, if so, are you “flying solo” or are you drafting off of someone more experienced, knowledgeable, and successful? Like this person. What about as a person, are you drafting off anyone to be a better human being? Or maybe, like me, as an educator, parent, and older person, you’re doing your best to, like Nairo Quintana in the picture below, “lead out” others in need of a positive example.

20175944-355979-800x531.jpgPhoto: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Postscript: I love this pic because even though Quintana is working at least 25% harder than Contador and company, he’s totally in control, meanwhile, everyone else is struggling mightily to hold his wheel. If only I had grown up Boyacense.