This bike looks suspiciously like a snow shovel

The year opened with warm weather. Nearly warm enough for shorts on the bike. So naturally I took The Mule out for a couple of rides, managing 62 miles to and from DC. The streets were eerily empty.

Then the storm hit. For the first time in three years we were socked with an honest to god snowstorm. By the time it ended we had 11 1/2 inches in our yard. Wet snow. Good packin’ snow as we used to say during my snowball fighting youth

.I broke out the Wovel and went to work on Monday. Neighbors kept remarking at what a clever invention it is. My back was happy. There is no lifting involved just pushing down and thrusting with the legs. The only drawback was that the was so much snow that I ran out of places to put it. After about three hours, I finished the task of freeing up the cars and went inside. My triceps were screaming at me. All that pushing down was like being in a gym on one machine for hours. I went inside, ate, showered, and hit the couch for a well deserved nap.

Madman with Wovel from 2014

On Tuesday morning I went out for round two. On Monday I moved nine inches or so. Tuesday I moved the rest. Same result. I was sore and tired afterward. I repeated my post-shoveling ritual: I ate, took a shower, and fell asleep on the couch.

Yesterday there was no snow to move. Time to ride! But there was no way I was going out on streets narrowed by plowed snow, covered in brine and sand and salt. So I took to the basement for my first bike/reading session of the year. I managed to last 1:48, what I guess is the equivalent of 19 miles. I did a ladder workout. Starting in the lowest gear, read a page, shift up. Go up to the top gear in that chainring then reverse. Next, shift to the big ring and go back up the ladder. I did two sets. My knees were screaming at me.

Big Nellie on a resistance trainer in the basement.

After my ride, I went upstairs and helped Mrs. Rootchopper and our daughter finish the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle – an end-of-year tradition at our house – we had begun a few days earlier. Eduard Munch’s The Scream.

You’d scream too if you had to do this puzzle.

Today, I planned on going out to deal with the storm damage in our yard. A cedar tree in our back yard had split near the top. The debris came down and was sitting on the power line to our house. Mrs. Rootchopper cut off some of the lower part of the fallen tree top. This took some weight off the line. For the rest we called Dominion Power. They had a crew out in a couple of days. The crew left their cuttings on the ground. A redbud tree on the side of the house had split down the middle of its main trunk. A couple of other large branches were hanging off other trunks.

Top of tree resting on power line.

I first had to move a pile of snow to make way for the new branches. Next I moved a big pile of branches from my wife’s previous efforts out of the mouth of the driveway. Then I started hauling branches, cutting them so that they would stack neatly, then adding them to a huge pile. I planned on 30 minutes. I even put a load of laundry in. Alas, it took three hours. I slipped and fell twice. It was not a lot of fun.

When I finished I came inside and felt like someone had beaten me with a bat. Every muscle ached. My back. My legs. My hands.

So I ate, showered, and took a nap. And did more laundry.

I hope to ride again tomorrow. That may not pan out. There’s another storm coming overnight.

Snowzilla Strikes Back

I woke up late, around 8:00. It was still snowing outside just as it did when I went to sleep. Icicles hung from the eaves all around the house. A look outside and it was clear that a foot of snow had fallen since I shoveled yesterday.

After breakfast I headed out into the storm. There was so much snow and the snow banks were so high that my wovel became useless. I had to resort to a conventional snow shovel. My neighbor came by with his snow blower and cleared a path through the sidewalk and out to the street. Thanks, Jay.

Dig. Heave. Dig. Heave. On and on. Occasionally, I could use the wovel and did. But the snow was heavy and my triceps were tired from yesterday.

After clearing our driveway with some help from expert car excavator Mrs. RC, I headed across the street to liberate the other three cars in our fleet. The street hadn’t been plowed in hours. To make matters worse, the plow only did 2/3rds of the street. This meant I had to shovel snow to get to the neighbors driveway. How much snow? My friend Rachel said it was many fucktons. She is quantitatively astute.

Mrs. RC worked on clearing the snow off the cars. I went to work with the wovel on the obstructed driveway.

Dig. Heave. Dig. Heave.

Four hours later we were done.

All I wanted was baked goods and a massage. Alas, my baking friend and my massage friend are 20 miles and several thousand fucktons of snow away.

Of course, over the four hours, another inch of snow had fallen. We clear that, fed the birds, and headed indoors.

Everybody part hurts. Somehow.

I am spent.

Outside the storm has intensified again. White outs are happening. Winds are howling.

I have to go back out there in a couple of hours.

 

I Told You that Yoga Was Bad News

Last night was Mrs. RC’s yoga night. She has a class in Virginia about five miles from her office in DC. The snow squall that I rode through on the way home turned DC area roads into a hockey rink. Mrs. RC was a half hour late to her yoga class mostly because the cars on 14th Street bridge over the Potomac River were behaving like those little plastic football players on the vibrating metal football field.

After class she jumped in her car for the ten mile drive home. It took six hours. Yes, you read that right. Six hours. At the top of every hill she encountered a bank of buses and trucks. The drivers refused to go down because they were sure they would lose control and kill someone. Mrs. RC watched as cars made descents and slid off the road. She described planning on going down after them like she was lining up a putt of an undulating green. “I need to start farther to the left.” Not a good time for a case of the yips.

I stayed up until 1 am when I saw an email indicating that she was alright and that traffic was horrid. At 2:22 am I heard the front door open. She made it without an accident.

This morning I opted to drive. The National Park Service does not plow or de-ice the Mount Vernon Trail so I am pretty much out of luck for a while. (I could use studded tires but they would slow me down below 10 miles per hour, making my commute more than 90 minutes each way.)

Tomorrow the snow bomb comes. I am blaming a friend from Argentina. She came back to DC in January 2015 and we were hit with two weeks of incredibly cold air called a polar vortex. Just a few weeks ago she was hanging out on the beach in Patagonia. Then she came back here in the last week or two. And we get this monster snow storm. I think that maybe she’s one of the X-Men.  I am taking up a collection to rent her a house on the beach in Patagonia until March next year.

Since I have no choice but to deal with the snow, I attached a new blade to my wovel and I am ready for action. If you think this thing looks silly, you should try it. It works great at clearing snow.

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