Categories
Miscellany Weather Work

Emergence

I have not been motivated to post much here recently, because quite frankly, life has been kind of repetitive over the past few months. I wake up, eat breakfast, bike/walk/hike/run/climb/etc., work, sleep, repeat. Not much to write about, but there are signs that normalcy is slowly starting to return. In a few weeks, our entire family will be fully vaccinated against COVID. Work has told us that we can return “en masse” starting July 6. The weather is warming up, and we’ll soon be swimming, and sometime in the next week or two, I hope to take the kayak out for the first time in 2021.

The return to the office is going to be the biggest shake-up in my daily routine since we all became instant telecommuters in spring 2020. There are things I like about working from home, but I really need to get back to the office just for a change of scenery. I also have missed commuting by bike. I can’t say exactly how my weekly routine will eventually shake out, but I think I’m going to start by going to the office 2 days a week and working from home the other 3. One of the challenges is going to be getting a proper ergonomic workspace set up in both places. I’m going to take my VariDesk sit/stand desk back to the office, which means I’ll need to get a standing desk for home to use with my treadmill. I’ll probably also need a new iMac. Lots of stuff to think about, but I’ve still got several weeks.

The other big news is the emergence of the 2021 Brood X cicadas. It seemed like they got a slow start this year because the first half of May was so cool, but I don’t have an exact recollection of when they started emerging in 2004 (let alone 1987). However, they’re out now, and making their presence known. A lot of “early bird” Brood X stragglers emerged in 2017, and a geocaching.com log I wrote on 5/25/2017 mentions that they were quite loud in Columbia on that date. So, maybe they’re more-or-less on target after all. I have a lot of memories of periodical cicadas from 1987 and 2004. The cool thing about them is that they provide reference points for different stages of life. In 1970, I was an infant; in 1987, a teen; in 2004, a young parent; and this year, a middle-aged father of two teens, one about to start college. Next time around, in 2038, I’ll be retired, and my kids will be in their 30s.

I’ve read up a lot on perodical cicadas over the years, and know a lot more about them than I did last time they showed up. I’m trying to learn the differences between each of the 3 species. I have noticed that the so-called “pharaoh cicada” (Magicicada septendecim) begins singing earlier in the day than the other two species. My son likened the sound of these cicadas to the sound the rails make at a train station when a train is approaching. The other two species (M. cassinii and M. septendecula) sound somewhat similar to each other, and kind of like a cross between a weed-whacker and a garden-variety summer annual cicada. These two species seem to begin singing a bit later in the morning than M. septendecim — after the sun is up and the day is warming up. It is hard to believe that we only have about 6 weeks with these guys before they die off and the 2038 brood hatches and burrows underground. I will miss them when they’re gone, but look forward to seeing them again later in life.

Categories
Biking Health Weather

Snow Day Musings

We’re getting our first real snow in these parts in about two years. Looks like 3 or 4 inches fell yesterday, and it’s been snowing off and on for most of today. Not a big snowfall by historic standards (I can still see the grass blades sticking through), but a lot by recent standards. In normal years, this would probably be a snow day, but now that everything is remote, it’s a normal work day for me and school day for the kids. Along the same lines, I used to ride my bike to work in almost every weather condition imaginable, but there’s much less of an incentive to go out and brave the weather when I’m telecommuting. That’s where the under-desk treadmill (which I’m using as I type this) is coming in really handy. Without it, I wouldn’t be getting any exercise on days like this. Of course, one could argue that the treadmill provides an additional disincentive to going out in the snow, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m happy as long as I can get my exercise in one way or another. I may try to get out on the mountain bike tomorrow or Wednesday morning. It will be a learning experience, as I’ve never ridden in the snow before. I’m sure enough people will have been out by then that the trails will be very well-packed. Should be interesting.

My lower back is still not quite 100% after I tweaked it a week and a half ago, but I think it’s getting to the point where the injury itself is mostly healed, and I’m mainly dealing with residual muscle/fascia tightness and soreness. Activity in general doesn’t bother it, but I find it stiffening up on me after an hour or so on the treadmill. I have a rather large arsenal of home remedies for it: exercise, yoga, ibuprofen, Voltaren gel, CBD oil, foam roller, heating pad, somatic exercises / pandiculation, inversion table, and a few I’m sure I left out. I’m very new to using an inversion table, and thus far, it has been eye-opening. I was lucky to score one for free, as my parents were getting rid of their Teeter. I have some occasional issues with positional vertigo (BPPV), and as such, was worried that inverting would make me dizzy and nauseous. Well, it did, for the first couple of times I tried it. Then, I got used to it, and now I can tilt back to 60º for several minutes at a time with no ill effects. The keys seem to be to avoid doing it immediately after eating, and to tilt gradually to allow time for the inner ears to adapt. I’ve been getting into the habit of hopping on the inversion table right after getting off the treadmill, when my back is a little stiff, and I have to say that after inverting for 5 minutes, my back feels great. The spinal decompression that you get from inversion obviously has some therapeutic benefit. The one thing that I don’t really like about the table is the ankle retention system — I just do not find it all that comfortable, even after adjusting it several different ways. Teeter sells a gravity boot adapter kit for the table, which looks like it may be a good investment if I decide I want to continue using the table long term. It could also just be that my ankles need some extra time to “adapt”. I’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

Categories
Climbing Miscellany Weather Work

Xmas Break

It’s that time of year again, when work shuts down at the end of December. Most years, this is a complete break from my daily routine, with a 2-week absence from the office, and all of the usual holiday gatherings and activities filling our family schedule. I always look forward to the holidays, but usually, by January, I’ve had my fill, and am ready for things to get back to normal. It’s definitely a tiring time of year to be an introvert. This year is going to be quite a departure, though. My office is right downstairs in the basement, so I’m not really physically leaving it. We’ll celebrate Christmas with a couple of really small family gatherings, but other than that, the calendar is clear. The “holidaze”, as I’m fond of calling them, aren’t going to seem much different from the daily grind this year, other than the fact that I’m not working — and even that isn’t guaranteed, as I’ll be visiting the “office” occasionally to get some time in on my treadmill desk.

After a couple of mild, dry winters, it looks like we’re in for a wet one this year. I’m not sure if we’ll get much snow, as we’ve been in a “flood and freeze” pattern thus far — warm weather, followed by flooding rains, then a deep freeze, then a warm-up, whereupon the cycle repeats. Occasionally, an ice storm creeps into the mix. We’re due for a snowy winter, so it will be interesting to see if this pattern continues into January.

I’ve gotten myself into a pretty good routine of climbing once a week at Earth Treks. This morning, I climbed 8 routes: a 5.7, 5.9, 5.10a, 5.10a, 5.9, 5.10b, 5.8, and 5.9. Two of these routes were new to me, and the rest I had climbed previously. Most had a moderate amount of overhang, but I did tackle one rather slabby 5.9. 8 is a pretty good number for me for the time I was there, and I cleaned all 8 routes, so I’d say it was a good day. I guess I’m slowly getting better at this. I’ve been alternating between my newly-resoled La Sportiva TC Pros and my Scarpa Force Vs. I like them both. In the gym, I haven’t noticed a ton of difference as far as climbing goes. The Scarpas have velcro closures, and are easier to put on and take off. The TC Pros are lace-ups, but are more comfortable than the Scarpas, so there’s less need to take them off in between climbs. I have yet to climb outdoors with the Scarpas, but it will be interesting to see how that goes. I suspect the Scarpas will end up being my gym shoes, and the TCs will be my outdoor shoes. But you never know.

Tomorrow, we’ll be in the flood phase of our flood-freeze weather cycle, but I’m hoping the deluge will hold off for an hour or two so I can get a run in. If not, I guess I’ll be running Christmas morning. It’s not like the kids get up early any more. 😃

Categories
Biking Weather

Ice and Slop

Among many other things, 2020 has had a profound effect on my daily routine. Before this year, I almost never rode my bikes for exercise. 99 times out of 100, if I rode, it was to get to work or get home. Once in a blue moon, I would head out on a weekend morning and bike a loop around the airport. A few times a year, I’d take the bike somewhere to find caches, or to use as a shuttle for a one-way hike or paddle, but that was the exception, not the rule. Almost all of my rides were 15 miles or less. Nowadays, it’s the complete opposite. I don’t commute any more, so I bike to stay in shape. Almost all of my rides are round-trip, starting and ending at home, and most are between 20 and 30 miles. This is kind of how I envisioned life after retirement, except I’m still working.

One thing that hasn’t changed much is Maryland weather. The past few days have been wet and icy. This past Saturday, I ventured out for a ride to Odenton to find a cache. The temperatures were in the low to mid-20s, making it my coldest ride of the season thus far. While I’m no stranger to commuting in those temperatures, I don’t think I had ever taken a ride just for the heck of it when it was that cold out. Strange times indeed.

After a run on Sunday, I returned to the bike this morning. Temperatures were several degrees above freezing, with a chilly fog hanging over everything, turning most of the snow and ice into messy slush. The exception was River Road in Patapsco Valley State Park, which faces north, and was still a solid sheet of ice. The warm-ish air temperature actually made it even more slick. It kind of caught me by surprise. After 12 winters riding through there, I’m aware that it gets icy, but given that the ice storm was 5 days ago, I thought that more of it would have melted. My studded front tire got me through some of it, but I elected to walk other parts of it in the interest of staying upright. I could have ridden most if it if I had had studs on the rear wheel, but I didn’t think I would need them. Live and learn, I guess.

Categories
Climbing Running Weather

Winter Weather Fun

It’s been a fun week of weather here in central Maryland. As predicted, we got an icy, slushy mess on Wednesday. NWS did a pretty good job forecasting this storm. Earlier models showed the potential for more snow in our area, but predicted amounts were dialed back as the low pressure center showed signs that it was going to track farther inland. Ultimately, we got pretty much exactly what was predicted for the area. A few days back, I read an interesting article that explained one of the reasons why snowfall totals in this area are so difficult to predict. Apparently, it’s because we live along the Atlantic Seaboard Fall Line, which is where the Piedmont meets the Atlantic Coastal Plain. I hadn’t really thought about that before I read the article, but it makes a lot of sense.

Wednesday morning, before the weather, I managed to get out to the climbing gym. Weekday mornings are always a good time to go, and I feel like I climbed pretty well, tackling a few overhanging routes rated 5.9 to 5.10a. I still need to work on my upper body strength so that I can climb longer on these kinds of routes without getting as “pumped”. Yesterday afternoon, I ventured out onto the mean streets of Elkridge for a run. It was my first afternoon run in awhile, as I usually go early in the morning; but yesterday, I was concerned about icy roads. There were still some icy spots in the afternoon, mostly in shady areas, but it was not as bad as I had feared. I was able to follow my usual 5-mile route. I brought YakTrax along for insurance, but didn’t need them. Yesterday was also unique in that unlike my morning runs, I had already logged a couple of hours on the treadmill desk before I went out. I was definitely a little more tired at the end of the run than I usually am.

This morning, I was hoping to get out on the mountain bike, but unfortunately, it never got quite cold enough to freeze the trails. The predicted low was 26º, but when I woke up, it was still hovering at 31º. I went outside and saw that the puddles in our driveway were still liquid, so knew the trails would be a mess. I think the overnight cloud cover is what did us in. Next week is not looking promising for frozen trails, so it might be awhile before I get back out there. Maybe we’ll have a Christmas miracle. 😀

Categories
Biking Weather

Troptember

Once again we find ourselves in the month of September.  September is one of those months that’s neither here nor there.  It doesn’t really feel like summer any more, but it’s not autumn yet either.  It’s still humid and muggy all the time, and I work up a good sweat every time I ride my bike, but it’s too cold to use the pool most of the time.  The tropics are cranking out a new hurricane every week.  I think September should be declared a separate season.  We’ll have Winter, Spring, Summer, Troptember, and Autumn.

This week, we’ve got endless rain on deck from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.  It was drizzling when I rode to work, but not enough to make me want to wear rain gear.  I did pack it along, though, for the first time since last spring.  I suspect I’ll need the rain gear for the ride home this afternoon.

All this rain is a good thing, though, because it’s keeping a big category 3 hurricane out at sea, which otherwise might have threatened the east coast.  Yep, it’s that time of year.

Won’t be long ’til October…