Friday, February 21, 2014

DIYBIKING.COM's Top Five Ways To Live Through This Winter

Breaking unspinnable news: This winter stinks.

Really, it does. I feel the same way about winter that Jon Stewart feels about Chicago deep dish pizza.

This isn't winter. Winter is when snow falls and lands in gentle piles on and around your home. It stays light and fluffy until you shovel it out of the way - and at that point it acquires exactly the right amount of consistency so one can make a snowman.

This isn't winter. It's a series of clips from a summer disaster movie. I half expect to see Dennis Quaid and Maggie Gyllenhaal's brother wandering into my backyard with snowshoes and dazed

This isn't winter. Getting a snow day and spending the morning sledding during Reagan's second term was winter. What is falling from the sky now and covering the landscape is paste that a kindergartner just spit back up. It is part Silly Putty, part booger and all misery. It's a pothole factory and Mother Nature is the plant manager of the year. It's…I just lost my train of thought there.

As a service to my readers - who may be every bit as bored and restless as I am - I offer this list of five things you can do to make the winter pass a little

5) Ride anyway on a winter bike

Not willing to get road salt on a good bike I found an old, 17.5" Trek at the recycling center. It was junk when I found it. It still is now, but I was able to make it ridable by spending a couple of hours greasing, tuning and adjusting. All it cost me was an $8 derailleur cable, and I now have a bike I can smear with road salt and not clean it off the next day. I'd be in a room made from Nerf if not for this thing…which, amazingly enough, played a key role in me finding yet another cell phone on the road  while I was off to Exhale Spa.

I was able to arrange to have the phone returned. If I had driven a car, the phone would have stayed lost, so the more junky bikes on the road - in winter or in any season - the better it is for people who lose things.

4) Take a class (metal sculpting if possible)

If you're unemployed, tired of winter (or both) take a class. It could be anything. The Silvermine Art Center (about a twenty minute drive from Stamford) has a lot of classes, and I'm presently enrolled in a metal sculpting class, which I love because it not only gets me out of the house (when storms don't close the school) but also gives me access to tools I don't have access to at home such as the completely awesome plasma cutter.

It's a tool I would write a song about if I had the talent. I love it but could never own one. Just look at the sparks. I couldn't use it even in my welding room since the risks of fire are just too great. However, if you ever get to use one the little bits of metal that are left over from some other project can be welded together to make a mask or just make about any shape you want if you have a  steady hand.

3) Visit a bike shop you've never visited before. 

Get out of the house. Travel to a city - by toboggan if necessary. Visit a bike shop you haven't visited before. The other day I was lucky enough to visit Adeline Adeline in Manhattan. It's a different kind of shop - not just because they are one of the few places that actually have a Bakfiets cargo bike right in front, but whoever runs the place did a good job editing the selection and showing off bikes and designs that are just cool.

I did wish I had visited this shop before I began my salute to the cargo bike, but stopping in during a cold February day was good for my morale. It'll be good for yours too. Get out there and visit a shop.

2) Trainers and rollers

I know, it's an easy one. If you have a decent road bike and a set of rollers (mine, as you know already, have homemade guides made from inline skating wheels to keep me from rolling off) you can ride in front of David Simon's The Wire or Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad. It'll keep you in shape and the good quality television programming will distract you from the fact that riding outdoors is about 134,000 times better.

1) Just make things

I know, this is fairly obvious. But it wasn't until I gave a talk on welding at Ignite Stamford a couple weeks ago that I really was able to articulate the value of having access to tools you enjoy using. For me it's a Lincoln Electric welder. For you it may be that or wood, a paintbrush, a pencil or a big tub of clay. But just make things. Make things that are pretty, make things that are ugly, make things that are useful, and make things that are useless. But just make things and good stuff will happen - at the very least this ridiculous winter will pass by a little faster.  Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.

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