Friday, January 12, 2007

Extreme Sports

Everybody has probably heard of extreme sports by now. These include skateboarding, rockclimbing, skydiving and other hair raising activities. The one I like to participate in is a little known extreme sport that I like to call the Canadian Winter Work Walk.

I never drive to work. I work just under a mile from my house so, like a good responsible human, I think it would be a huge waste of energy for me to drive to and from each day (not to mention I'm not interested in contributing to global warming by adding my emmissions to the atmosphere). In the summer I bike and once the snow falls I switch to walking.

Walking to work? How extreme could that possibly be?

Let me tell you.

In the middle of the prairies we can expect a lot of snow every winter and we usually have a few weeks of temperatures that are below -30 degrees celcius (for those south of the border that is -22 F). We also have another little phenomenon that we like to call the windchill factor. Depending on the wind speed it can feel like it's anywhere from a couple degrees to 20 degrees colder that the actual air temperature. That is basically what the windchill factor is.

This morning when I walked to work the temperature was -36 C (-33 F). Not overly bad, but wait, what about the windchill. When we factor in the windchill this morning the temperature was -50 C (-58 F). Personally, I like the extreme cold more than the regular cold. It feels like more of an accomplishment or a challenge. And talk about invigorating! My entire body is pretty much covered in double layers. Everything except a little strip for my eyes. This resulted in my right eyelashes sticking together a couple of times and at one point I had to use my hand to pull them apart. It is important to keep the eyelashes apart because the ice keeps building up if you don't and it gets much harder to seperate them if you leave it, and if the other eyelashes freeze up you're really screwed. My hands also got cold because I had just one pair of gloves but I found that if I alternately squeeze my hands into a fist in time with my step it kept the blood pumping and actually made my hands hot. Twenty minutes after leaving my house I arrived safe and sound at work.

Now I know how Robert E. Perry must have felt when he reached the pole.

That's what I call extreme!

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