Friday Commute

004

Dirty mountains of snow.

009

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

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.

Monday Commute

010
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.

008003

006

Saturday Commute

DSCN0048[1]

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.”

DSCN0060[3]

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.

Friday Commute

DSCN0009[2]

Main road on the commute to work.

I worked the later shift today so I got to sleep in!

But the downside is I had to work later than I am used to working so I was tired by the end of my shift. The last hour at work was a rush, I tried to get everything done as fast as possible so that I could head home.

As soon as hopped on my bike and started out under the clear, glittering sky I could relax and breathe again. I love biking at night, especially when stars and moon light the way.

I was climbing a hill when I noticed a car stuck in a snow bank, hopelessly spinning its wheels. The rear of the vehicle was jutting out into the road and as a car whizzed by it honked angrily at the obstacle. A few other cars also passed by, heedless to their fellow vehicle’s predicament. Shouldn’t vehicles be ready to assist their own kind?

Side road on the way to work.

Side road on the way to work.

I was slightly cautious while approaching the car. I instinctively fear sports cars that are revving their engines. But a breathed a sigh of relief when I could see that the driver was an anxious young lady. She rolled down the passenger window and accepted my offer of help. After a childhood filled with pushing a 15 passenger van out of snow banks, helping a little sports car was a piece of cake.  The driver thanked me and drove off. Nothing else exciting happened on the way home so I got to thinking and decided there are at least four reasons why winter cyclists are a better option than the typical motorist for rescuing stuck cars.

1. We are dressed for success. People in cars often are only dressed to sit in a heated car, not push cars out of snow. But winter bikers? We have our boots, hats, balaclavas and layers on, we are prepared to be in the snow and cold (because we are in the snow and cold).

2. We are more observant of the helpless cars around us. Vehicles may miss out on a car in distress due to their great speed, but us slow and steady bikers won’t miss a thing.

3. Bikes are non-obstructive. When a motorist rescues another motorist they must first find a safe place to park their vehicle so it will not obstruct traffic, something that can be tricky in winter time. But when you are on a bike you can just pick it up and stash in the nearest snow bank if need be.

4. Our strong legs come in handy when pushing out a trapped car.

And think of the benefits to the cycling community, I doubt that girl will tell the next biker she sees, “GET OFF THE ROAD!!!” So let’s rescue all the cars we can, they need our help.

DSCN0011[1]

This highly sophisticated design, which utilized a knit glove secured with electrical tape proved unsuccessful.

On a sad note, my first prototype of the highly anticipated insulated bike headlight failed. My light did last until I arrived at home but the temperature wasn’t severely subzero either. Back to the drawing board.

To work (10 miles)
9:30 am to 10:35 am

Weather
15F, 14mph North wind, 22 mile gusts, snow

I wore
Head: head band, ski goggles
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Very nice

From work (10 miles)
8:40 pm to 9:55 pm

Weather
-3F, 8 mph North 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: Perfect.