Monday Commute

Three weeks of non routine sleeping has finally caught up to me. I didn’t sleep well last night and setting my alarm early to make sure I got to work on time despite the weather didn’t help my sleep depravation.

Let me explain the weather we have been experiencing the past few days.

Saturday morning: nice thick cover of snow, below freezing temperatures
Saturday night: strong winds, temperature rises, results in heavy rain
Sunday: above freezing, very strong winds, most of the snows melts
Sunday night/early Monday morning: temperature drops, decent snowfall
Monday: temperature continues to drop

Weather can have some serious mood swings, I’m telling ya!

So I set off this morning in the swirling snow. The roads were well plowed and other than a few white-outs the ride was uneventful. While the ride itself was uneventful, my mind was slightly off-kilter from lack of sleep. I kept thinking that I heard a snowplow coming up behind me and I would glance back…to see a completely deserted road.

But I kept coaching myself that I couldn’t become complacent (I used the example of the villagers in “Peter and the Wolf” to motivate myself) because the next time it would be an actual snowplow. The phantom snowplows continued to stalk me for the entire ride. (Can I get a restraining order against them?) Of course the only snowplows I ended up seeing were coming from the opposite direction.

The last two hours at work were a struggle, my eyelids kept asking pesky questions such as, “can we close now?” “what about now?” “who are you to tell us not to close?”. Thankfully I was able to get out of work right after three. Once on my bike I got my second wind, sadly, it turned out to be a mere cat’s paw. My solution to low energy? Low speed. I cheerfully, slowly trudged along, breathing in the brisk air.

A couple of guys in a pickup truck slowed down and the guy on the passenger side stuck his head out, “Are you alive?”. Now I realize that I was moving at the pace of something dying, but I thought it was obvious that I wasn’t dead quite yet. While I was still processing this he repeated, “Do you want a ride?” Ah ha! That makes more sense! After thanking them and declining the offer, I pedaled home.

To work (10 miles)
3:40 am to 4:35 am

Weather
25F, 24 mph West wind, 36 mph gusts, snowing

I wore
Head: balaclava, rain jacket hood, ski goggles
Torso: thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: three pairs of socks, sneakers
Comments: My boots were still slightly damp from Saturday’s escapade, so I wore my sneakers and as many thick socks as I could manage. My feet stayed warm, yay.

From work (10 miles)
3:10pm to 4:25pm

Weather
10F, 8 mph Northwest, 17 mph gusts

I wore
Head: balaclava, rain jacket hood, ski goggles
Torso: thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, thermal underpants, rain pants
Feet: two pairs of socks, boots
Comments: My face felt cold when there were gusts of wind but I was good other than that.

Saturday Commute

I headed out the door as soon as I could this morning determined to spend as much time on that trail as I could, despite my best intentions ten minutes earlier was the best I could do. I was able to spend thirty minutes in the woods plowing through snow left and right. My bike handling skills are not great, to put it gently, so it was a challenge to stay upright. What a great place to gain more confidence and experience, with the thick layer of snow getting injured from a fall was unlikely.

I stopped in the middle of my ride to take in the stillness of the woods and I let out a squeal of utter joy and delight, yup, it was as dignified as it sounds. God’s love for me is constant but sometimes I feel it in an overwhelming way. At that moment I felt his love around me, through me and in me. It made me feel so alive, so happy, so free.

Now for my tale of the journey home. The road conditions were exciting to say the least. It was raining steadily and there were frequent gusts of wind. As I hit the road I was faced with a choice, take the lane where biking would be easy, or ride on the shoulder which was covered in sheets of ice and chunks of snow. I chose ice. It was great, my bike was happily crunching through whatever had been pushed to the side by cars and snowplows.

Snowplows were out in full force but they were only plowing the lanes, not the shoulders. As I continued on my commute the temperature changed and the ice and snow of the shoulder turned to thick, heavy slush. I didn’t have much traction and decided it would be safer take the lane and trust the cars to see me in my reflective gear and flashing red lights. Which they did, although a few weren’t very happy about it. One car blared its horn and another guy stuck his head out of the window to shout, “GET OFF THE ROAD!!!!”

So I got off the road, found shelter in a snow bank, huddled down into the snow and waited until spring. Or not. It was a bit startling, as that is the first time someone has yelled out of a car at me in years, but it just gave me more adrenaline to finish my ride, so thank you random dude.

To work with side trip (11.5ish miles)
8:10 am to 9:40 am

Weather
15F, 6 mph Southeast wind

I wore
Head: balaclava, rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: My hands were numb for the first ten minutes but I balled them into fists until they got warm and from then on I had no problem. Also, I decided not to wear goggles and my eyes were fine in the cold, I did get eyelash icicles though.

From work (10 miles)
8:20pm to 9:45pm

Weather 32F, 14 mph Southeast wind with gusts, rain

I wore
Head: balaclava, rain jacket hood, ski goggles
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs of knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: I didn’t bring my leg bands so I tucked my rain pants into my boots. With the steady rain and heavy slush my feet got drenched. Not an exaggeration, at the end of the ride the water was up past my ankle, my feet were swimming! Thankfully it wasn’t cold out so my feet didn’t get chilled, although they looked like white raisins.

Friday Commute (with bonus side trip )

I worked late today which was nice because I got to sleep in until 6:45, but it also weird because I am not used to getting to work at 9:45 am. During the middle of my ride to work I took a water break and realized I was going to arrive super early to work. I further realized that I was right next to a hiking trail covered in pristine white snow. Even though I was pretty sure the snow was too deep to actually traverse in I decided to try anyway.

Oh my! Why have I not tried this before! My mountain bike and I had such a thrill plowing through the 5 to 8 inches of powdery white snow. We went for about half a mile into the quiet woods when I decided it was time to turn back. I am so doing this again!

The rest of the ride to work was uneventful, the giant white dog chased and barked at me but that is pretty typical. But what happened at work was not typical. Get ready, Justl.

In the middle of my work day, a coworker tells me there is a giant white dog hanging around outside, instantly I know it is “my” giant white dog since he lives close to the restaurant. I go outside and slowly move toward him, avoiding direct eye contact. I reach out my hand, he sniffs it calmly then looks up at me with big sorrowful eyes. He seems a bit shy so I stand still until he walks away. Before this I was quite sure he would never actually hurt me, but it is nice to confirm that.

I am not absolutely sure, but I think he came over to apologize. My thought is that he made a New Year’s resolution to not bark or chase me anymore, but when I came riding by at an odd time of day he was so excited that he forgot. I could be wrong of course…

To work with side trip (11 miles)
8:20 am to 9:35 am

Weather 22F, 6 mph Northwest wind, snowing

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

Comments: My ski goggles always keep my face super warm, which can border on too warm.

From work (10 miles)
8:30pm to 9:25pm

Weather 14F, no wind

I wore
Head: balaclava, rain jacket hood
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs of knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Felt a little cold at first because my jacket was still damp from my morning exertion in the snow.