A dead guy made me do it.

Why did I decide to bike in the winter?

I am not athletic.

I am not super fit.

I am overweight.

I am not fast.

It doesn’t really make sense that someone like me would try to conquer the elements. But here I am. A dead guy made me do it.

My parents homeschooled me, which means I got to do nerd-ish things. One of the nerd-ish things I did was to memorize the entirety of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death speech”. It is an epic speech. One sentence of his oration has stuck with me ever since.

“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

This is not just a true statement for battles, for wars. It is true in all of life. Strength and natural ability do not guarantee success. Nope.

The battle belongs to those who are aware and cautious.
The battle belongs to those who go out there and fight, the ones who lay their lives on the line.
The battle belongs to those who courageously move forward despite doubts.

Biking in the winter isn’t for athletes or superheroes. It is for those of us who actually do it.

Saturday Commute

I got to sleep in on a Saturday! I never get to sleep in on Saturdays. It was a big deal, okay? But that means I worked late, so I am dog tired right now. Good night!

To work (10 miles)
8:50 am to 9:35 am

Weather 23F, 12 mph Southeast wind

I wore
Head: balaclava, ski goggles, rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: Perfectly warm.

From work (10 miles)
8:00pm to 9:05pm

Weather 28F, 18 mph Southeast wind

I wore
Head: balaclava, ski goggles, rain jacket hood
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: Man, I went really slow on the way home. The wind was fighting me the whole way though.

Friday Commute

Winter has found its way back to the north country.

My bike ride to work was peaceful and stars were glittering all across the sky. I should have stopped to savor them, but I didn’t.

On the way home from work half of  the shoulder was covered in about an inch of snow and assorted clumps.  So most of the ride I rode on the clean pavement, but I also chose to ride in the snow some of the way. I want to be ready if I ever need to bike on an unplowed road.

To work (10 miles)
3:45 am to 4:35 am

Weather 19F, 3 mph West wind

I wore
Head: balaclava, ski goggles, rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: The pinkie finger on my left hand got really cold, so I put it in with my other finger to keep it warm. I need to buy new gloves or mittens like right now, because my current ones stink. The only problem is I don’t know which I should buy. Too many choices!

From work (10 miles)
11:20 am to 12:05 am

Weather 23F, 10 mph West wind, snowing

I wore
Head: balaclava, ski goggles, rain jacket hood
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: I love biking in the falling snow. My head really overheated with the balaclava, but I wanted to test it out today.

Good For The Soul

Today was just one of those  days that warmed my heart and filled my soul to overflowing with joy.

What warms your soul?

Here is a list of things that make me all warm and fuzzy inside.

-realizing that Thanksgiving is tomorrow
-making pie crusts
-baking pies
-being with my little nephews and niece
-listening to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe soundtrack
-hanging out with my totally amazing brothers
-snuggling with my puppies
-listening to Rend Collective
-looking at family pictures

And all of them happened today. I am a lucky duck.

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The magic starts here.

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I love the smell of pumpkin pies, but they aren’t my favorite. But my brothers will gobble them up.

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Blueberry crumb pie

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Apple pies. I don’t know what is better: making them or eating them.

Monday Commute

Winter is over! It is currently spring.

Seriously, why do the seasons fight each other like this? Why all the drama? Why can’t winter come gradually? Instead we get tons of snow only to have the snow melted by warm weather and rain.

But I must say I love to bike in the rain. This morning I felt so energized by it. When I was almost to work a random guy pulled over to ask me if I wanted a ride. I gave him my standard answer. “I’m good, thanks though!”

On the way home I saw an awesome rainbow and the faint colors of a second one. I know the science behind rainbows, but let’s be honest, they are actually magical. Also saw a bunch of turkeys. I decided to leave them alone since my mom already has her turkey for Thanksgiving.

Passed another cyclist. It has been almost a month since I have seen one on the road so it made me happy to see him. What didn’t make me happy though is that he was biking against traffic. Which means that he was headed toward me on the shoulder, forcing me to take the right-hand traffic lane. Oh well. No harm done I suppose.

To work (10 miles)
3:50 am to 4:35 am

Weather
45F, 28mph Southeast wind, 37 gusts, steady rain

I wore
Head: ear muffs, ski goggles
Torso: t-shirt
Hands: my skin?
Legs: yoga pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: With wind chill the temperature was 36F so my hands got a little cold but not bad.

From work (10 miles)
3:20 pm to 4:12 pm

Weather
64F, 23 mph Southwest wind, 30 mph gusts, sudden short bursts of rain

I wore
Torso: t-shirt
Legs: yoga pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Frozen

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“The cold never bothered me anyway.”

I think the writers of Let it Go secretly spied on my life and based this line off me. Ever since I was little I have been scaring my poor mother by refusing to wear proper apparel when out in the cold. I never wore coats and barely wore gloves or hats or socks. I embraced the cold. When you are outside, my philosophy was that you should feel like you are outside. The wind should touch your skin, should make your cheeks burn.

It really is amazing how our perspection distorts reality. By telling myself that I was warm, I really would feel warm. When others around me would be huddling together for warmth, I would stand up straight and refuse to shiver. I would tell people, “I feel the cold but I don’t let it inside me.”

Until.
That fateful day when I was sixteen. My sister and I went for a walk in close to zero degree weather. A stiff winter breeze was blowing but of course I decided against a hat. As we walked I felt the cold hit my ear in a way I had never felt before. But I didn’t fear the cold, so I walked on never mentioning the pain to my sister.

We returned home and instantly when I got inside I could tell something was wrong. My ear throbbed and started to swell. Before long it was thick, fire red and velvety to the touch. Yay for frostbite! Everyone found it funny that Bri, who never got cold, could get frostbitten.

Sadly, I did not learn my lesson. Last year some friends and I were making homemade ice cream up at my parent’s house. Someone dared me to see how long I could stick my hand in the mixture of water, ice and rock salt. So I stuck my hand in. And left it in for almost two minutes. This was A Bad Idea.

When I took my hand out I noticed my fingers were white and felt waxy. So I slipped into the bathroom and plunged my hand into cool water. Pain shot up my arm and I felt nauseous and feverish. For the next half hour I writhed in agony as my hand unthawed. For the next week my fingers felt like they had been severely burned.

Yes, the pain the bad. But that was not what bothered me. What scared me was that it was easy for me to hold my hand in that rock salt water. I could have easily kept it in for a longer period of time. That’s when it hit me.

I could probably freeze to death without it ever bothering me.

I still love the cold. I delight in that crisp feeling in the air. I didn’t close the windows in my apartment until the temperature dropped below freezing. I will never wear a proper winter coat. The cold continues to be my friend.

But I now realize it is a friend with dangerous powers.

Saturday Commute

I feel so good right now. It is a few hours since I got back from work but I can still sense the endorphins filling my body right down to my toes. Biking makes me feel alive.

The roads were clear today, thank you salt! My poor little bike though, hopefully the winter doesn’t hurt her to much. On the way back home I got hammered with “rain pellets” which stung quite badly where my face was exposed. Thankfully, the precipitation didn’t last to long.

I went to my landlord’s to pay rent and his wife asked me if I had been biking last Saturday night. I told her that I had been. She said that she had seen a blinking red light on the side of the road and thought there had been an accident. As she got nearer she was surprised to discover the light attached to a bicycle. I guess my taillight is doing its job.

People are very impressed by my bike lights and frequently exclaim, “whoa, those are brighter than my car’s lights!” Nope they are actually not. Car lights are stronger, believe me I can see the difference every morning that I bike. But I never spoil it for them. If they want to think I have better lights than they do, they are free to do so.

To work (10 miles)
3:55 am to 4:50 am

Weather
23F, 13 mph Southwest wind

I wore
Head: ear muffs, rain jacket hood, scarf, ski goggles
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Stayed warm

From work (10 miles)
3:00pm to 4:25pm (included paying rent)

Weather
36F, 18 mph Southwest wind, 26 mph gusts

I wore
Head: ear muffs, rain jacket hood, scarf, ski goggles
Torso: thin t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Overheated some but not too bad considering the fact that I was working hard against the wind.