How to make people smile in winter. (Unintentionally)

If you happen to see me out biking when the temperature is lower then ten degrees Fahrenheit, there is a good chance that I will be wearing this to keep my face warm and protected.trail riding

This ensemble is composed of a helmet, which is covered by a waterproof shell, a balaclava and a pair of ski goggles. It is a setup that works well for me, it keeps me warm in the coldest temperatures but is breathable enough that my goggles don’t fog up. Thankfully, it is also super comfortable to wear.

There is just one drawback to wearing this: I look quite ridiculous. A glance in the mirror tells me as much, but unfortunately there is overwhelming evidence even aside from my reflection.

First of all, the most common reaction that occurs when I am spotted wearing my winter gear is that people burst into spontaneous giggles. Also, it seems impossible for people to look me in the eye. Instead they seem to focus on my nose and their mouth tends to twitch at the corners while they are talking to me.

Then of course, there are the things people say to me while I quickly putting on or taking off my headgear.

You look like Darth Vader!
But…I am not anyone’s father…

Going to rob a bank?
Yes, I have a speedy getaway vehicle, the cops will never catch me.

Haha, you look like a ninja!
Would a ninja use flashing red lights to be easily seen?

Are you a spy?
Of course not! No way!

You look like you are going skiing.
That’s true.

You look creepy.
I know. Muahahaha!!!

So why am I talking about wearing a balaclava and ski goggles when it is currently 36 degrees outside?

Well, it has been warm for days and will likely be warm all week. I don’t know when it will be cold enough to wear them again and that makes me sad.

Not because I miss my alter-ego self where I appear as a ninja or bank robber that no one can pass on the road without staring at…

…But because I miss cold days and falling snow.

Or maybe I just don’t like the rain and dirt hijacking the roads and making me and my bike look like we survived a sandstorm.

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.

Blood Donation and Biking

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Bike

I hope you had a great day, because I had a great day.

Real winter Biking

All the local schools had a snow day. So I did the only rational thing possible, I set out for a bike ride. I went up a couple nice-sized hills to my parent’s house. My mom was really scared about me biking up, she kept asking my dad to come pick me up from town. (My parents are the sweetest.)

But when I finally made it up to their house (I went at a wind and caution induced speed) she told me a was a hero and made her feel like a wimp. She kept insisting I retain my biking gear so she could take pictures of me (lol) but she couldn’t find the camera, so I shed my gear, promising her that she could take pictures when I was leaving.

So I puttered around the house for a few hours helping out with some cooking and cleaning, getting stuff ready for Thanksgiving. Then I set out to head home.

I chose a different route going back which was kind of a mistake. One of the roads was covered with gravel, and therefore I discovered a fun fact about combining gravel roads, studded tires and strong winds. Progress is slow. I think I could have walked faster.

Luckily the next road I turned onto headed in the perfect direction to catch a lovely tailwind. It felt like flying. But then I miscalculated the location of the edge of the road, slid and fell. Now in an earlier post I detailed that falling is one of my greatest biking fears. So I was shocked to find that I was not hurt at all and neither was my bike. Phew.

Got home, left my panniers, grabbed my ID, told my disappointed dogs I would be home for “real” soon, and rushed out the door to head to the blood drive.

Donating Blood

It was only about a mile bike ride to the blood drive but the roads were not well plowed. I slid around a little whenever I went through a thick layer of powdery snow, which was somewhat terrifying, but doable.

As a first time blood donor I was kinda unsure what to expect but the process was easy, simple and almost painless. I told my needle stick-er person (that is the official term) that I had been out biking for a lot of the day. When she took my pulse, she was slightly shocked. “Your pulse is not very high for having just biked here. You must bike a lot.” I swelled with pride. But then I remembered that “pride goes before a fall” and I stopped swelling. I didn’t want to fall on the way back home.  I arrived without any mishaps.

I am currently home, safe and sound cuddling my babies in bed.

Weather

19-21F, 21-26 mph Southwest wind, 35 mph gusts

I wore

Head: rain jacket hood, fleece hat, ski goggles, scarf                                                  Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket                                                             Hands: thinsulate gloves                                                                                                       Legs: yoga pants, rain pants                                                                                               Feet: pair of socks, boots

Comments: I stayed very warm, my face was overheating most of the time. I had to keep pulling my scarf down to uncover my mouth to cool down, but then a gust of wind would make me want to cover my face up again.

Monday Commute

To work (10 miles)
3:55 am to 4:45 am

Weather
32F, 7 mph Southeast wind, light rain/snow

I wore
Head: headband, scarf, ski goggles
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: pair of knit gloves
Legs: thin thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: The ski goggles I bought are orange-tinted so they really minimize how well I can see at night. They will be great for those bright winter days, but I need to order goggles that aren’t tinted for night/early morning biking.

From work (10 miles)
2:20 pm to 3:12 pm

Weather
34F, 10 mph Southeast wind, rain

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, ski goggles
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: pair of knit gloves
Legs: thin thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: I was passed by six snow plows on the way home. They weren’t plowing, just heading to or from plowing. Hopefully I stuck out to them, maybe they will realize that there will be life forms other then motor vehicles on the road during the winter. There are epic ways to die but being squashed by a snow plow is not one of them.

Saturday Commute

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

Weather
27F, 2 mph West wind

I wore
Head: headband, rain jacket hood, scarf
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs of knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: two pairs of socks, sneakers

Comments: Started out warm and got a bit over heated on the way.

From work (10 miles)
7:55 pm to 8:40 pm

Weather
32F, 7 mph Southwest wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, headband, ski goggles, scarf
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs of knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: two pairs of socks, sneakers

Comments: Snow was gently falling for most of the ride, so beautiful. I got quite overheated though since I dressed for mid-twenties (which was the predicted temperature) and when I arrived home I realized it was actually 32F. Cars were definitely slowing down when they passed me, wondering what in the world a orange-goggled, blinking creature was doing out at night. It made me feel rather self-conscious but I suppose I just have to get used to the scrutiny.

Thursday Commute

To work (10 miles)
3:55 am to 5:03 am

Weather
32F, 3 mph West wind

I wore
Head: headband
Torso: t-shirt, light weight jacket
Hands: two pairs of knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: Started out warm and stayed warm the whole way, at least I think so but I am not sure because I had other things to deal with besides the temperature. (I will post about it tomorrow.)

From work (10 miles)
3:00 pm to 4:01 pm

Weather
32F, 5 mph West wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, ski goggles
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: pair of knit gloves
Legs: thin thermal underwear, rain pants
Feet: socks, sneakers

Comments: Woot! My second time biking while snow is falling. The pavement was too warm for the snow to actually stick so as far as my tires went it was like biking in the rain. Tried out my ski goggles and rain jacket out for the first time, both worked well. It was quite fun biking through the gently falling snow, I can’t wait for it to snow in the early morning.