Friday Commute

013009002Dinner at the restaurant was insanely busy tonight. I feel so alive working in a kitchen at non-stop, full-throttle speed. The tension of seeing a line of tickets hanging up and hearing more customers arrive challenges me and gives me the adrenalin to run around and cook like crazy. There is an incredible focus that comes with the knowledge that there are tables of customers waiting for the arrival of their food. During a dinner rush nothing in the world matters except those tickets and the food I am preparing.

Then a waitress bursts into the kitchen with an apology, “I forgot to hang up this ticket, can you get their food out quickly?” It’s a challenge I am always up for.

Finally, people stop coming in and it is time to clean and get ready for the next day with the residual adrenalin that I have left. My coworkers leave and I head into the bathroom to change from my sweaty, oily work clothes into my winter gear.

As I step out into the cold with the moon shining above, the last of the stress and adrenalin leave me and I hop on my bike ready for a calm, peaceful ride home.

Now I think I shall take a shower, see how many layers of dried food, oil and sweat I can scrub off and head to bed.

To work (10 miles)
8:20 am to 9:35 am

Weather
-2F, 3 mph South wind

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

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

Weather
10F, 12 mph Southwest wind, light snow

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

Advertisements

Monday Commute

003I have decided to switch careers, I am going to be a spy! I haven’t decided who I am going to spy for yet, so if you have any suggestions, just let me know.

While biking home from work, two different friends passed me in their cars. They don’t know about my winter biking exploits so when I waved at them, they had no clue who I was. One friend gave a cautious wave, probably wondering why the weird winter biker had singled them out for attention.

But their perplexed faces drove the point home in my mind. In my full winter regalia, I am the perfect undercover spy, no one can figure out my identity under all those layers! That lady who stopped the other afternoon wasn’t even sure of my gender, so I should be all set to begin life as an alter-ego ninja spy. And with all my flashing red lights, I don’t draw much attention to myself so I should be able to sneak around anywhere with ease.

I dropped off my rent on the way home. My landlord opened the door with this greeting, “Hello there, alien!” To me an alien and a spy are pretty comparable, so he is obviously on board with my plan.

I may have to stop blogging though, not sure if spies on top secret missions are supposed to publish on public websites.

To work (10 miles)004
3:25 am to 4:45 am

Weather
-2F, 7 mph West wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava,
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: I think my torso is an impenetrable fortress, it always stays warm. I wonder if it is immune to bullets as well, maybe I really should become a spy.

From work (10 miles)
4:10 pm to 5:25 pm

Weather
-6F, 9 mph West wind

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

Saturday Commute

011While biking up a hill to work this morning my back wheel started to give me problems. When I was almost to the crest of the hill it refused to turn at all and I ground to a halt. So I dismounted, took off my goggles, helmet and gloves to see what the issue was. I unhooked the rear brake and found an ice-covered pebble jammed in one of the brake pads. That would do it. After removing the ice chunk and putting my brake back on I was able to arrive uneventfully to work.

At work I was introduced on two separate occasions as “the girl who bikes in winter”. Hey, I will take it. It will be interesting to see if this phrase sticks to me even in the summer.

I didn’t attach my pannier properly on the way home, so mid-ride it started falling off and I stopped to fix it. In a field nearby some miniature horses and donkeys were standing by their barn, getting as much shelter as they could from the storm. One of the donkeys was braying loudly, demanding that someone rescue them from the snow.

When they noticed the curious creature stopped by the side of the road they all lined up to gawk at me. It was quite cute.004

006

To work (10 miles)
3:30 am to 4:55 am

Weather
-3F, 14 mph Southeast wind

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

From work (10 miles)
3:10 pm to 4:40 pm

Weather
18F, 8 mph Southeast wind, snow

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: We had such a heat wave this afternoon, I probably would have stayed warm in a t-shirt and shorts. Probably.

Friday Commute

007

A mailbox struggling to remain seen above the snow.

005

002

001Do temperatures above freezing actually exist or are they the figment of an active imagination from the pre-ice age?

The good news is I am getting proficient at subzero early morning rides. I have no idea what I am going to do with myself when I can actually coast on the way to work without my chain slipping.

I am also getting better at handling my bike in snow. On the way back from work I ran my tires at full pressure even though I had to bike through decently deep snow in some places. I have learned to be very gentle on the handlebars and almost let the front wheel choose its own way through the snow. Then I use my body to keep the bike balanced and upright. Seems to work well.

At the beginning of winter, I would tense up all the time while biking through snow, especially the sandy, brown, snirty stuff. My fists would clench around the handlebars and I would force the front wheel to remain rigid. I had to make myself loosen up multiple times on a ride. But now I am pretty confident in my ability to stay balanced even when I slip or slide.

I shocked our supplier again today when he asked if I had biked in to work this morning.

Helpful coworker: “She bikes in every time she works!”

To work (10 miles)
3:25 am to 4:55 am

Weather
-8F, 10 mph West wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava, head band
Torso: thermal shirt, soft shell jacket, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves with liners
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Toasty warm.

From work (10 miles)
3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Weather
4F, 16 mph West wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Gusts of wind blew through the little vent holes in my balaclava and made the side of my face feel numb. Thankfully, the crosswind didn’t last too long.

Friday Commute

001Happy International Winter Bike to Work Day to everyone! To celebrate this unique holiday, I decided to bike to work! Incidentally, I also logged the lowest average temperature combined from my trips to and from work today at -7.5F.

My new headlight didn’t die on the way to work, which is really thoughtful of it. My chain was not so gentle with me however. Yesterday I gave my bike a decent cleaning and re-lubed my chain (I have been lubing my chain twice a week during the winter) and I guess I did not do something right because it kept starting to slip while I was biking which was downright annoying. I had to stop a few times to reposition it, but thankfully I still made it to work on time.

On the way home it worked fine.

Because it is International Winter Bike to Work Day I thought I would share my top winter biking tip with all of you.

004

This is the sidewalk in front of my house. Those snow banks are actually taller than me.

Don’t lick your lips.
The saltiness you taste is not from the aftermath of your last meal or even from your own sweat. It is from the salt and chemicals of the road flying onto your face. Lick at your own risk!

To work (10 miles)
3:30 am to 4:55 am

Weather
-14F, 16 Northeast wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava, head band
Torso: thermal shirt, soft shell jacket, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves with liners
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: My legs got a little cold by the end, but with it being International Bike to Work Day and all, I didn’t mind.

From work (10 miles)
3:25 pm to 4:45 pm

Weather
-1F, 7 mph West wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, soft shell jacket, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Cool beans (but I stayed warm).

Monday Commute

DSCN0015[1]

Leaving my driveway.

I had the best ride home ever!

I woke up at 2:30 to several inches of fresh snow with more gently falling.
I rode to work and the snow continued to fall.
I worked through the morning and the snow continued to fall.
I worked through lunchtime and the snow continued to fall.
I got back on the road and guess what? The snow continued to fall.

DSCN0019[1]

Leaving work.


DSCN0022[1]

DSCN0023[1]

This is the river I cross every day I work. (Hint: the river is the area of snow between the two rows of trees, not the metal railing.)


It wasn’t a heavy snow, just a steady downward float of the fluffiest, lightest snowflakes imaginable. In all we got 15 inches. Visibility on the road wasn’t stellar at first so I plodded along in the several inch deep snow of the shoulder. Sure, it was slow but I felt safer there and going through snow is more interesting than using the plowed road.  About halfway home the snow stopped and the sun came out. There was a hint of a rainbow in the sky. I was having a nice ride and enjoying the landscape until my world was forever changed. By snow dunes.

Snow dunes are little magical piles of snow crafted by wind blowing over open fields. The conditions we had today created beautiful deep snow dunes.

I found out what my natural reaction is to seeing snow dunes on the shoulder on the road. I want to destroy them. I went charging through those wind-shaped piles of snow as fast as I could (which was not really that fast). Oh my! Why use artificial snow on ski slopes when the snow would be of greater use making snow dunes for bike riders? I kept finding myself giggling while flying through the mounds of snow.

I was chugging right along when I suddenly realized that I should try to take some pictures. I took off my gloves and got out the camera. While I was fishing around in my panniers to find something to use as a reference point for the picture, I saw a snow plow in the distance. Oh great. So I snapped a picture quickly, grabbed all my stuff and dragged my bike to the other side on the road.

DSCN0025[1]

The picture I took just before the snowplow destroyed all traces of snow dune existence.

If I thought I was good at destroying snow dunes I quickly found out that snow plows are weapons of mass destruction, destroying entire communities of snow dunes in their wake. I re-crossed the road and all my fun had been plowed away.

But it was awesome fun until then and a great workout as well!

(Light update: my light made it the entire ride to work, yay! But it was almost dead. I contacted the manufacturer and they will get back to me tomorrow, crossing my fingers for a good outcome.)

To work (10 miles)
3:35 am to 5:00 am

Weather
0F, 17 mph Northeast wind, snow

I wore
Head: 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: My legs have been staying warm lately which is really nice of them.

From work (10 miles)
3:20 pm to 5:00 pm

Weather
-3F, 10 mph Northeast wind, snow for half of the ride

I wore
Head: 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: I should have worn my headband as well, my ears got a little cold and currently feel sore.

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.