Friday Commute

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Dirty mountains of snow.

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Sugar Shanty.

The animals are starting to emerge now that the power of winter is weakening. I saw a skunk and a confused little field mouse on the way to work. Skunks were out in full force last year and it seems that the trend will continue this year as well. Though I don’t mind seeing skunks and it’s pretty easy to avoid them on a bike, I wish good luck to all the drivers on weaving a path through the minefield of walking stink bombs.

It was snowing on the way home! Okay, I shouldn’t really say it was “snowing” but there were snowflakes falling from the sky so it kinda-sorta counts. We may get up to three inches of snow tomorrow afternoon and all I can say is the shoulders of the roads better not be plowed when I get out of work or it will be a total rip-off.014

You know the saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”? I have had fun biking through the snow but I didn’t realize I would miss it quite so much when it no longer covered the road.

The past three nights I have been dreaming about bikes and snow in different  scenarios. (In one I was leading a group of friends in biking through this epic snow cave. They kept asking if  the walls would collapse since it was so warm outside and I would just reply, “Yeah, it is possible”, while calmly continuing to go father into the cave.)

So hopefully we will get some nice snow tomorrow or I may spend another night guiding my helpless friends to an icy demise.

To work (10 miles)
3:40 am to 4:40 am
Weather
20F, 7 mph Southeast wind

From work (10 miles)
3:15 pm to 4:20 pm
Weather
32F, 9 mph South wind

End of the Errandonnee Era

Errandonnee 2015 ends today. It was great fun seeing what everyone was up to on their bikes these past twelve days! Many thanks to MG from Chasing Mailboxes for organizing this friendly challenge.

Another one of my coworkers told me today that she and her boyfriend are thinking about biking to work. When she first started working at the restaurant in November she thought I was nuts for riding to work, but my evil plan to convince people that biking to work is awesome is slowly starting to gain traction.

The weather on my trip home was perfect. Forty-four degrees! Although I kept my earmuffs on since my ears can be sensitive to the cool air blowing past them, my gloves and jacket came off. It is t-shirt weather!

I have never felt so connected to a seasonal change before. I feel the world waking up, as strange as that sounds. I can feel myself coming alive with the return of warmth. Winter is a stately, calming season, where snow drapes gently but securely over the land. Spring is full of energy: roaring brooks, chattering birds and budding trees.

Before arriving home I stopped at the Post Office to mail an international letter. I made it just before the window closed, thank goodness. It really isn’t best to plan errands that are time sensitive after work because I never know exactly when I will be able to head home.

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This ramp leading up to the Post Office was great fun to run up and down as a kid. These days though I climb the stairs, how very adult of me.

Then I biked all the way over from the post office to the local library (about 100 yards, what a trip!) to return a few books. I also poked around for a few new books to read but it can be tough to pick out books just from their covers. The library was closing at 5 o’clock so I didn’t have time to browse through any pages. Eventually, I found an audiobook which should come in handy now that I have gotten bitten by the spring-cleaning bug.008

To work (10 miles)
3:40 am to 4:40 am
Weather
28F, 7 mph South wind

From work plus errands (10 miles)
3:30 pm to 4:55 pm
Weather
44F, 7 mph South wind

Errand #11 Post Office (Non-Store Errand)
Distance: 0.5 miles

Errand #12 Library (Arts and Entertainment)
Distance: 0.5 miles

Saturday Commute

It is day three of the Errandonnee. I was going to count yesterday’s commute towards the Errandonne but that kinda failed. Thankfully, today’s ride was uneventful. Mostly.

I startled a bird that was in the snow bank this morning. It took off to fly…and went under my hands, flapping against my jacket for a brief second before fluttering away. If I had any presence of mind I could have grabbed it, stuck it my pannier and then counted my commute under the “You brought WHAT on your bike!?” category.

Poor bird (I think it was a pigeon or dove) I probably shocked it out of its early morning rest. But at least I wasn’t a two ton pickup truck!

When my work day had ended and I was changing back into my biking clothes I suddenly realized something. It was warm enough outside to wear sneakers! I am so used to putting on my huge men’s hiking boots that I forgot that sneakers are actually a viable footwear option. For the first mile my feet felt beyond weird in them. A good weird, of course.

Even though it has started snowing again, it feels like spring out. When I started this blog it was mostly to gather information for myself for the next winter (like a chipmunk gathering acorns). That is why I insisted on recording all my layers so meticulously. I really (like really, really, super really) think I have enough information about that aspect of winter biking so from now on I will simply record the weather, distance and time.

To work (10 miles)
3:25 am to 4:25 am
Weather
20F, 21 mph Southwest wind, 28 mph gusts

From work (10 miles)
3:15 pm to 4:10 pm
Weather
26F, 17 mph Southwest wind, light snow

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This is the shed that my bike hangs out in while I am working.

Errand #4
Work (Work or Volunteering)
Distance: 20 miles

Monday Commute

Heat wave. You probably won’t believe this (and I don’t blame you) but the temperature was over 20 degrees both on the way to work and on the way back! My chain didn’t slip at all. I didn’t wear a balaclava. Or many layers of clothes. So weird.

When I got to work I realized that my helmet light had stopped blinking. Oops, I think someone forgot to charge her light. It was a good reminder to me in two ways: having multiple rear lights is a must and I should charge my lights more.

It was a blustery day out which created snow dunes! I got proper pictures of them this time, although cars kept stopping while I was snapping photos and asking if I needed a ride.

Chasing Mailboxes has organized a fun biking challenge, the Errandonnee. It starts on Thursday and I am going to give it my best shot.

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Snow dunes, in pristine condition. That won’t last long.

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The destruction of some helpless little dunes. I feel so powerful.

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Bike conquers all.

To work (10 miles)
3:20 am to 4:50 am

Weather
21F, 9mph West wind, snow

I wore
Head: ski goggles, ear muffs
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs of knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: I felt lost without my balaclava, which is probably why it took me so long to bike to work.

From work (10 miles)
4:15 pm to 5:30 pm

Weather
23F, 15 mph West wind, 31 mph gusts

I wore
Head: ski goggles, ear muffs
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Good, except for when a crosswind would blow and sting my face with snow and ice.

Friday Commute

commute 008I brought along my cheap Wal-Mart headlight with me this morning in case my headlight died which it did but I was so close to work that I didn’t bother to stop and mount the Wal-Mart light.

Good news though, I contacted Light & Motion on Monday night and they shipped a new light out for me on Tuesday and it should be here any day now. They are letting me keep my old light as well, which is awesome.

The commute started out with clear roads, light snow, good visibility and high psi in my tires. But my journey did not stay so tranquil for long. The snow was soon falling so thickly that right after cars passed me they would seem to disappear in a cloud of snow. I will never understand why a small but significant percentage of drivers refuse to turn on their lights except when they turn on automatically at night. Just because you are in a car doesn’t mean people can see you.commute 011

I hold no such misconceptions, I always assume that cars do not see me and I try to remember to behave accordingly. I lowered my tire pressure so that I could ride at the very edge of the shoulder. Gotta love my tires, when the pressure is low they stick to the road even when the nastiest, brown-est snow comes their way. However, the increased traction means I have to work extra hard in the saddle, so I am currently a tired little bunny.

commute 012To work (10 miles)
3:25 am to 4:35 am

Weather
-12F, 15 Southeast wind, light snow

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: Really good.

From work (10 miles)
3:05 pm to 4:35 pm

Weather
22F, 13 mph West wind, heavy snow

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Got pretty warm, but it wasn’t too bad.

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.

Friday Commute

At work today I found out that my coworker was talking about my crazy biking habits at the tax office. This isn’t the first time that I have realized I have become a topic of conversation. It is great in a way, maybe it will inspire some more people to get out on their bikes. On the other hand, I have heard my feats exaggerated on two occasions.

One guy was under the impression that I biked fourteen miles to work. Someone else, who I don’t think even knew about my ride in -17, confidently told another lady, “Yeah she bikes in anything, even at -20.” And those are the enhancements I have heard, there may be more that I haven’t caught wind of yet.

My ride home was uneventful until I came into town. I spotted thin tire tracks in the snow beside the road. Instantly I thought they were bike tires, then I saw horse manure and realized the tracks were made by an Amish horse and buggy. Bummer!

But when I was almost home I was shocked to someone riding a bicycle on the sidewalk! First biker I have seen this winter in my county. I would have stopped to chat but it was a boy around the age of ten, so not wanting to be a weird stranger, I settled for a smile and wave which he returned.

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

Weather
16F, 5 mph South wind, snow

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

From work (10 miles)
3:50 pm to 4:55 pm

Weather
26F, 14 mph Southwest wind

I wore
Head: headband, scarf, rain jacket hood
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: yoga pant, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: At first I left my face uncovered but with the wind I needed the scarf to cover up my neck.