My apartment in Santa Monica is undergoing some renovation. The work was supposed to start Feb 4 so I got things ready. Feb 4 came up and they said we'll start Feb 8, to be finished in three or four days. I talked with the landlady last night, and she said I might be able to come back next week.

I've been staying with friends in the Antelope Valley, which is a broad desert area north of Los Angeles. Having not ridden very much in the preceding months, I hoped to use the open space to start getting back into shape. This plan has worked for the most part, but at least this spring we've had a day or two of riding weather between five or six days of strong wind.

My friends say "Welcome to the Antelope Valley Wind Festival. Runs from Jan 1 to December 31." I say ride anyway. I try to work with the wind but sometimes get busted. A couple of weeks ago I rode north in nearly calm conditions. I turned around and the wind promptly decided to make things difficult. With 10 miles to go the wind got up over 20mph. That ride took a while.

One day I actually got away with a cheat. I rode east, with the morning wind. I did some exploring and noticed that the wind wasn't so strong in the valley, so I rode back west up the valley, over Godde Hill and down with the north side wind not mattering because the gradient here is about 8 per cent. Take that, wind!

Well, they got me back yesterday. Nice calm morning, but quite cool. I headed west. About 10 miles into the ride I started feeling wind behind me. Rats. It's going to hurt going back. Then my left knee started complaining (it doesn't like cold very much). I'd intended to ride west to the Three Points road and return via the more protected valley, but the knee wouldn't permit climbing that grade. I turned around and headed back. Roughly 20 miles against the wind. I made it but it took a while.

Antelope Valley does have good riding. If you're on a bike with bigger tires you can avoid nearly all traffic by using the dirt roads and power-line trails. Most of the paved roads have little traffic; I was on 70th Street West one day and was passed by maybe 2 cars in 10 miles.

But, oh my... that wind. It has tried to blow me over a couple of times...