21 February 2008

Why yes, ma’am, as a matter of fact I DID ride in this weather …

Posted by todd under: Things people say .

The gracious and (thank the Lord) highly skilled dental assistant at the office where I got a filling today repeatedly expressed disbelief that I had ridden my bike to the appointment. (The temperature was in the mid-20s.)

She came up with an impressive array of questions and observations: Didn’t I get cold? Wasn’t it going to be difficult to leave the warmth of the office for the chilliness of the ride home?

What about the forecast — was I aware that there was a possibility of freezing rain, and what would I do if that transpired?

I told her I would evaluate the roads and make a judgment accordingly. I will ride in every weather condition except ice.

But in fact, here in Lexington, Ky., the road crews put down so much salt that you could easily preserve a side of beef by rolling it on any six square feet of pavement within the city limits. This, combined with the fact that I mostly take well-traveled roads on which friction from many cars’ tires helps melt the ice, makes it unusual that ice is ever an insurmountable obstacle. (It happens maybe twice a year.)

A friend who was in the office for a teeth-cleaning visited me while my mouth was numbing. The dental assistant told him that she couldn’t believe I had ridden my bike — I joshed that I couldn’t believe she had driven her car.

My favorite exchange came while I was suiting up for the ride home and showing her my trigger-finger mittens, balaclava and winterized Bell Metro helmet. She wondered whether I also wore long underwear. (Yes! — when it gets down into the lower teens.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and appreciated the great job she did on my teeth.

Still, the entirety of the exchange illustrates yet again the absurdity that such a practical mode of transportation should be so widely considered impractical — when the real impracticality (in this circumstance) would be a healthy American man requiring a 4,000-pound hunk of combustion-engine-driven metal to transport him less than 2 miles round-trip. Talk about crushing an ant with a sledgehammer …

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.

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Art for art’s sake

I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!

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