Dragged from New York

It is a beautiful day out and I am in the middle of Oregon, just a few hundred miles from the coast. I feel like I am gonna explode from excitement, I get to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in the next few days!

But before I arrive in Astoria and finish up my tour I thought I would share exactly what I have been dragging along with me from Northern New York. My philosophy in gathering gear for this trip was the idea of traveling “medium-light”. I don’t have a proper touring bike so I wanted a load that wouldn’t strain my road bike (or myself) beyond our capabilities. It probably wasn’t the wisest choice to bring a road bike but the cool thing about bike touring is that you don’t need to have the perfect setup to make it work.  I have seen all kinds of people, with all kinds of setups, on all kinds of bikes riding across the USA.

So let me introduce you to my gear. This is the complete list of stuff I have (unless I missed something), but I didn’t get pictures of quite everything and it isn’t perfectly organized either…that’s my bad. I also don’t have the time to jot down all the details about each piece, so if you want more specifics about an item, just ask.

I hope this is not my only bike touring expedition so critiques and suggestions are welcome!

wp-1469468358097.jpegMy Clothes
Two Sugoi Icefil jerseys
Two pairs of Garneau shorts
Long sleeve shirt
Wool socks
2 pairs of ankle socks
Pearl Izumi cycling gloves
Full finger gloves
Sunglasses
Columbia Arcadia II Rain Jacket
Rain pants
Tee-Shirt
Pair of Capri’s
Underwear

wp-1469468376054.jpegCare Items
Sunscreen
Toothbrush and tooth powder
Comb
Extra hair tie
Shampoo
(I have been using the shampoo as all-purpose soap, from doing laundry to washing my bike.)
Lip balm
Deodorant
Chamois Cream
Razor
First Aid Kit
Pack towel

wp-1469468288326.jpegProtection Program
(I am just being silly, the knife is used for food prep.)
Counter Assault Bear Spray
ResQLink+ Beacon
Knife
wp-1469468308712.jpegFood
Fork and spoon
Can Opener
Sardines
Tuna
Creamy Peanut Butter
Random snacks
Salt/Pepper/Sugar Packets

wp-1469468327822.jpegwp-1469468230636.jpegStuff for the bike
Bike Levers
Mini Pump with gorilla tape wrapped around it
Two Park Tool patch kits
Spare Tire
Spare Tube
Cornstarch
Chain Lube
New Shoe Cleats
Random extra screws and bolts
Allen Key set
Zip ties
Cables for brakes and shifters
Bungee Cords
2 Fiber Fix Kits
(Thanks for the suggestion, Rootchopper and Doug!)
Chain break tool
Spare Brake Pads
Tool with flat and philip screwdrivers
2 Sets of bike lights
Bike Lock
Taco Seasoning
Gatorade powder
ReplaceSR tablets
(I take 3-6 a day so that I don’t have to worry about buying sports drinks for electrolytes.)
wp-1469468206549.jpegTech
Tablet with Case
USB charging cords
Battery Pack
Camera
(I lost my phone a few days ago…)

Sleep System
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 Tent
Marmot Sleeping bag
Thermarest Prolite Womens
DIY Groundcloth
(aka tarp cut to size, thanks mom!)

wp-1469468271315.jpegOther Stuff
Maps
Wallet with Bike Lock key
Bug clip thing
(I haven’t used this yet, I have my doubts whether it would keep bugs away.)
Chemical handwarmers
Pens
Paper
Glue Stick
People’s info and notes
Microfiber wipes
Passport

Hydration
Two 28 ounce water bottles
2 Liter Water bag

wp-1469468253103.jpegMore Other Stuff

Helmet
Sleeve for map
Bike Computer
Schwalbe Marathon Tires (28mm)
(No flats yet!!)
Saddlebag with super secret stash of Clif bars
(If you guess what kind of Clif bars I have in my stash, you can have a free one! You just have to come to Oregon to get it.)
Worn out bike shoes
Sneakers

Top Five Memorable Commutes

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The giant white dog says hello.

It’s been fun chronicling each day’s ride to and from work this winter. One of the greatest things about biking in the snow and cold is that every single day is an adventure. I am so glad that I have everything written down so that years from now I can look back over my first year of winter commuting.

But today is the first day of spring (on my calendar at least, Google claims otherwise) plus it rained on my trip home so I think it is high time to retire the “commuting to work” posts. Not that I won’t be posting about interesting things that occur on my rides to and from work in the future, but I don’t feel the need to journal every trip now that I completed my first winter of biking. The exciting part is when I do post about my commute I will actually take the time to think of an appropriate title instead the tedious titles I wore out over the winter.

In lieu of posting about today’s ride, here are the links to the five commuting days that stick out in my mind.

My Favorite Commute

The Funnest Commute of all Time

My Encounter with the Sheriff

The Bloodiest Commute

The Commute of Torture

Monday Commute

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I didn’t sleep well last night and had lots of weird nightmares. When my alarm went off I had a headache and I felt like I had a fever. It wasn’t a bad headache, but I don’t usually get them so when my head does ache I am a bit of a baby. Convinced that I had a temperature, I stuck a thermometer under my tongue. Two minutes later I discovered my temperature was normal. Okay then, time to get dressed and head out the door.

Even though I felt a little off at first, after a few miles of biking I was fine. I was somewhat lethargic at work, but hey, I made it!

On the way home a car passed me and pulled over ahead of me. As I approached the car, the sweetest little lady popped out and came to the back of the car.

“Are you a young lady under all of that?”

After I answered in the affirmative, she went on tell me that she often sees me biking and wondered if she could give me rides “in a warm car”. I reassured her that if I did need a ride I had lots of family and friends that I could call. So she asked me if I needed a car.  I explained that lived car-free intentionally. Then she shared that she also loves biking and has her bike on a trainer in the winter.

She honestly put such a huge smile on my face with her genuine thoughtfulness. If I am remembering correctly, she is the first woman to offer me a ride this winter. I should have asked if we could meet up sometime to bike together in the summer, but those are the kind of things I don’t remember until after conversations are over.

To work (10 miles)
3:15 am to 4:35 am

Weather
-18F, 6 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: My legs started getting cold toward the end which is normal. The thing is I could buy actual winter pants to keep me warm, but the problem is I really don’t mind my legs feeling cold. Am I weird?

From work (10 miles)
3:05 pm to 4:20 pm

Weather
3F, 6 mph Northwest 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: Nice.

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Monday Commute

013Thanks to Jean and TuckamoreDew , I found out about International Winter Bike to Work Day. I am now a little snowflake in a world of snow and it feels great!

First day using the Urban 700. My Urban 550 headlight has a beautiful, wide, even beam but the 700 outclassed it a bit. It spread the light out smoothly over the road with no discernible focus points. But what I really cared about was battery life and so far, so good!

Today work was really slow so I got out early. One of our suppliers pulled in just as I was leaving and the two guys had never seen me in all my snow gear or my winter-ready bike (because it hides in the shed while I am working). They were quite surprised to find out that studded tires are available for bikes. It is always fun to have conversations about winter biking with interested people. It is an odd feeling though, I have seen one of these guys twice a week, for over two years but all of a sudden he was looking at me with a respect he had never shown before.

Isn’t it strange how finding out one fact about someone can completely change your view of them? That is one reason judging people isn’t smart. I don’t know everything about anyone’s life, I don’t know all their struggles, pain, courage or love. Conversely, when people judge me, what difference does it make? They don’t know who I really am on the inside, they only judge by what they see.

But God knows every part of me, all my beauty and my ugliness, and He loves me. That is awesome.

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001

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Amish horse and buggy tracks.

I felt bold on the way home today, I kept my tires at a high pressure and took the right lane, making cars pass me. Usually, I deflate my tires a bit and bike on the snowy shoulder but the skies were clear and my lights were flashing so I knew I would be safe.

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

Weather
6F, 10 Northeast 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: Nice.

From work (10 miles)
2:50 pm to 3:55 pm

Weather
9F, 10 mph Northeast wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Pulled balaclava down under my chin when my face got too warm.

Saturday Commute

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Graveyard in winter.

One of my coworkers was complaining about her car today, so I suggested she use a bike instead. She instantly protested, “That’s just for you, only you bike in winter.” But I had a great comeback. I had noticed earlier in the day that one of the newspapers on the stand had a front page picture of a guy biking through the snow.

She was completely speechless when I showed her man on his bike, riding through the snow. It was then that I realized that she really, truly thought that I was actually the only winter cyclist. (AH!) Maybe I should print out pictures of people biking in snow to show to when questioned about my winter biking activities. “Yup, I bike in the winter just like all of these people.”

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My little Urban family, with the newcomer below my 550.

Guess who came in the mail today? My little light’s big brother. I opened the package to find a Urban 700 inside, which is a newer model than my Urban 550. Cool beans.

I may have been disappointed with my headlight’s performance in the cold, but at least there was stellar customer sevice behind the glitch. I could not be more impressed with how Light & Motion dealt with my battery issue.

Now I will have to find out how the 700 does in the subzero, it is predicted that next week will give me a few opportunities.

To work (10 miles)
3:30 am to 4:40 am

Weather
16F, 6 mph Northeast wind

I wore
Head: headband
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: I feel like as winter progresses my body is getting better and better at staying at an ideal temperature no matter what I wear. This was great.

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

Weather
13F, 10 mph Northeast wind, light snow

I wore
Head: headband, ski goggles
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: My lower face got cold from the snow/wind combo, but not cold enough to actually stop and put a scarf on.

 

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.

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.