Saturday Commute

On the way to work I saw guys cutting ice from a pond using an antique tractor. I kind of wanted to stop but I knew if I did my chain would slip and I also risked my goggles fogging up so I passed by, albeit very slowly.

I kept my bike on one gear for awhile but I realized at the end of my commute that it was shifting fine. I guess the non-shifting threshold is somewhere between -6 and -11.

I think my headlight battery has been corrupted by its subzero adventures, it quit on me a quarter-mile from home. Time for a new battery, new light or both.

To work (10 miles)
9:25 am to 10:40 pm

Weather
-6F, 5 mph Northwest wind

I wore
Head: head band, ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: two thermal undershirts, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: A bit sweaty but alright.

From work (10 miles)
8:20 pm to 9:35 pm

Weather
8F, 8 mph Southeast wind, light snow

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: two thermal undershirts, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Good.

Friday Commute

DSCN0009[2]

Main road on the commute to work.

I worked the later shift today so I got to sleep in!

But the downside is I had to work later than I am used to working so I was tired by the end of my shift. The last hour at work was a rush, I tried to get everything done as fast as possible so that I could head home.

As soon as hopped on my bike and started out under the clear, glittering sky I could relax and breathe again. I love biking at night, especially when stars and moon light the way.

I was climbing a hill when I noticed a car stuck in a snow bank, hopelessly spinning its wheels. The rear of the vehicle was jutting out into the road and as a car whizzed by it honked angrily at the obstacle. A few other cars also passed by, heedless to their fellow vehicle’s predicament. Shouldn’t vehicles be ready to assist their own kind?

Side road on the way to work.

Side road on the way to work.

I was slightly cautious while approaching the car. I instinctively fear sports cars that are revving their engines. But a breathed a sigh of relief when I could see that the driver was an anxious young lady. She rolled down the passenger window and accepted my offer of help. After a childhood filled with pushing a 15 passenger van out of snow banks, helping a little sports car was a piece of cake.  The driver thanked me and drove off. Nothing else exciting happened on the way home so I got to thinking and decided there are at least four reasons why winter cyclists are a better option than the typical motorist for rescuing stuck cars.

1. We are dressed for success. People in cars often are only dressed to sit in a heated car, not push cars out of snow. But winter bikers? We have our boots, hats, balaclavas and layers on, we are prepared to be in the snow and cold (because we are in the snow and cold).

2. We are more observant of the helpless cars around us. Vehicles may miss out on a car in distress due to their great speed, but us slow and steady bikers won’t miss a thing.

3. Bikes are non-obstructive. When a motorist rescues another motorist they must first find a safe place to park their vehicle so it will not obstruct traffic, something that can be tricky in winter time. But when you are on a bike you can just pick it up and stash in the nearest snow bank if need be.

4. Our strong legs come in handy when pushing out a trapped car.

And think of the benefits to the cycling community, I doubt that girl will tell the next biker she sees, “GET OFF THE ROAD!!!” So let’s rescue all the cars we can, they need our help.

DSCN0011[1]

This highly sophisticated design, which utilized a knit glove secured with electrical tape proved unsuccessful.

On a sad note, my first prototype of the highly anticipated insulated bike headlight failed. My light did last until I arrived at home but the temperature wasn’t severely subzero either. Back to the drawing board.

To work (10 miles)
9:30 am to 10:35 am

Weather
15F, 14mph North wind, 22 mile gusts, snow

I wore
Head: head band, ski goggles
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Very nice

From work (10 miles)
8:40 pm to 9:55 pm

Weather
-3F, 8 mph North wind

I wore
Head: head band, ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: two thermal undershirts, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Perfect.

I bought a camera!

Yesterday I went shopping with the gifts cards I received for Christmas. I decided it was high time for me to own a camera. Currently, my photography skills are abysmal but hopefully that will change with time and practice.

I snapped a few pictures while I was on the way up to visit my little nephews and nieces.
DSCN0004[1]DSCN0003[1]DSCN0006[1]

Not Snowshoes

As a total winter biking newbie, I learn new things constantly. Today was a day of discovery.

A while back I found out that biking on trails covered with fresh snow up to ten inches was hard but crazy fun. Unfortunately, soon after my discovery winter decided to intervene and cut my fun short by dumping a few feet of snow into the mix.

But this morning the sun was out and I headed to the local fairgrounds to do some experimenting. I thought that it was possible that the slight thaws we have experienced the past few weeks might create a stable base to ride on.

Yeah, no. You know that when your bike is stuck far enough in the snow so that you can sit on it safely without moving that you will not be going far. I had a blast though. There was a trail that was groomed for snowmobiles and walkers that was hard packed enough to ride on. So I did bike on that path and tried to use it as a launching pad to gain enough momentum to transition to the surrounding snow.

file0002024082135

Surprise! My bike does not look like this.

The result was comical. My front wheel would promptly sink and become immobile and the remaining momentum would cause the back wheel to buck into the air like an angry horse. Thankfully, the fairground was deserted.

My bike is awesome in snow. It is not fazed by slush or ice. But it is not a pair of snowshoes.

Upper Body Update (week 8)

I am calm. Nothing to see here.

201501270302002015012702554420150127025652

How does that even work? Did my body really get that much stronger in one week, or am I just getting better at pushing myself farther? Either way, I’ll take it!

I think I am going to try the 7 week “one hundred pushups” program. Whether it takes me 7 weeks or more, I am becoming determined to be able to do 100 pushups in a row.

Eight weeks ago, I said this.

“When starting out a fitness program, it is generally advisable to set goals, right? Ha. Bri doesn’t set fitness goals. Bri used to, but Bri doesn’t anymore. It is a long story.

I am just going to do something to build my upper body strength 3 times a week. That is extent of my training plan. We will see how this goes.”

I had no idea.

Monday Commute

Subzero weather returned this morning but due to a bit of experience and some helpful suggestions my ride went much smoother.

(Many thanks to Cyclerist, Jim, Joshhan and everyone else for their encouragement and support!)

Last night I put ten more pounds of pressure in my tires, lubed my chain and set my bike on a gear that would work for the entire ride. When morning came I was ready to roll!

I treated my bike like a singlespeed for the duration of my commute. No coasting, no gear changes, just constant, steady pedaling. (Except when going downhill of course, then I had to pedal like crazy.) This worked out very well and I didn’t have to stop once to adjust a slipped chain, hallelujah!

Because I didn’t have to stop biking at any point, the problem of my goggles fogging up was also eliminated. When I arrived at work and removed them I discovered little spikes of frost about half a centimeter high along the inside of the bottom vent. So that was the white thing I kept seeing in the corner of my eye!

Sadly, one factor remained the same as my last subzero commute. I thought it was a fluke last time, that I had simply forgotten to dim the beam from my headlight, but apparently my headlight is allergic to cold weather. Even though I fully charged the battery last night, two miles from work the low battery indicator came on and I had to bike the remaining distance in the dark. I guess the cold depletes the battery much faster than normal.

I called my dad and he thinks a bit of foam insulation could help, or maybe I will order another light, keep it in a inner jacket pocket and then switch lights mid-ride. My taillights remained unfazed.

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

Weather
-11F, 7 mph East wind

I wore
Head: head band, ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: two thermal undershirts, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves with liners
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Everything was great except for my legs, need to order something warmer for them asap.

From work (10 miles)
3:35 pm to 4:45 pm

Weather
9F, 14 mph Northeast wind, 28 mph gusts

I wore
Head: balaclava, ski goggles
Torso: two thermal undershirts, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Nice.

Saturday Commute

Hanging out with my family tonight. All us kids are tired, sleep deprived and slightly grumpy. My mom and I made an apple crisp and when my mom suggested that we have chocolate ice cream with it we all instantly snapped at her, “Chocolate!?!” No way can you eat apple crisp with chocolate ice cream, it has to be vanilla, always.

After having apple crisp with vanilla ice cream (my mom had chocolate anyways because she is a rebel) we watched Mom’s Night Out together. My brothers both kept saying it was a dumb movie and though they threatened to leave, at the end of the movie we were all laughing.  Now I must go to bed because my brain feels like death.

To work (10 miles)
3:40 am to 4:45 am

Weather
18F, 5 mph South wind

I wore
Head: balaclava, rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: I didn’t tighten my bootlaces very well and apparently that makes my feet cold. Good to know.

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

Weather
27F, 10 mph West wind

I wore
Head: headband, rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Great.