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.

001

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

011

013

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

017

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.

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.

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).

Saturday Commute

Last night I checked the weather forecast before heading to bed and saw that the temp was supposed to be about 20F. But this morning when I went outside to walk my dogs I really thought it felt colder than that. It was. At 11F, today’s commute clocks in at the second coldest of the season, hooray! I stayed warm though until I got to work and had to change into my frozen work clothes in the freezing cold bathroom.

My commute home was perfect. It was your classic winter afternoon, cold, clear, no wind and sunny with sparkling snow everywhere. I spotted 17 turkeys out enjoying the sunshine.

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

Weather
11F, 5 mph East wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves, knit gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: I should have worn one more pair of pants as my legs got slightly cold.

From work (10 miles)
3:00 pm to 3:55 pm

Weather
22F, no wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: Everything was awesome

Friday Commute

I am rather exhausted. I left my house yesterday at 6:30 am to bike up to my brother and sister-in-law’s house to babysit their three, two and one year olds. We had a great time together except for a slight mishap during story time.

The two year old came up to me and asked, “Read me a story?”

“What story should we read?” I asked.

He said, “Mother Goosey!”

So all four of us sat down together to read Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Because I am an awesome auntie I decided to switch the rhymes up a little to give them a bit of flavor. I might have changed “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed” to “Five green alligators jumping on the bed”.

“No, auntie, monkeys. Alligators don’t jump on the bed.” The three year old interrupted.

“Oh, I guess auntie was just being silly.” I said.

Two year old pipes up, “Yeah, that made me a little bit sad”. I suddenly notice he is almost to the point of tears.

Oops, auntie fail.

“Should I read it the right way?” I gently asked him.

“Yeah!” They both replied.

Aunties

My brother gave me a lift home because by the time I could leave it was already past my normal before work bedtime. So I had a full yet extremely fun day.

Then work today was really busy, which is good because it makes the day go by super fast but it also means I am feeling slightly drained. I think I will grab and shower, set out my gear for tomorrow and head to bed.

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

Weather
22F, 5 mph Northwest wind, freezing rain

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: I felt warm even though my jacket turned into a sheet of ice.

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

Weather
22F, 5 mph West wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: My hands sweated a lot.

Friday Commute

I thought the roads were gonna to be nasty this morning since the forecast predicted overnight snowfall, so I set my alarm to wake up early. I got up at 2:40 only to discover that the road were perfectly clear. (I am not complaining though!) So I did some stuff around the house, took the little girls for a longer walk than normal and set off. There was lots of ice on the roads but my studded tires took it on like pros.

On the way back I had my first snowplow experience. (Snowplows have passed me before, but this one was actually plowing on my side of the road.) I used the method employed my this smart dude and carefully crossed to the other side of the road to allow the snow plow to pass. Yay for the start of conquering one of my winter fears!

I love biking with my ski goggles when it is snowing out because it keeps the snow out of my eyes.
like fireflies
The downside is it is much more difficult to look behind me to check the road with them on. So today I spent a fair chunk of my ride doing this exercise: bike on the white line, turn to look to the side and behind me, turn forward again, evaluate the position of my bike with regard to the white line, repeat. Now my neck is sore.

To work (10 miles)
3:50 am to 4:40 am
Weather
22F, zero mph wind??? Whatever, there was some wind I swear

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, ear muffs
Torso: thin thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: thin thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Perfect.

From work (10 miles)
3:15 pm to 4:05 pm
Weather
23F, 5 mph West wind, snow

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, ear muffs
Torso: thin thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: thin thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Overheated by the end of the ride.

Shocked

Today I was roaming the depths of the World Wide Web when I discovered an article that shocked me. The article (from last winter) quoted a mayor who said that people who bike in the winter should be arrested. Excuse me?

But that is not the only thing that shocked me. What rocked me to my core is that this guy is the mayor of a city 25 miles away from me! Now obviously I am not actually afraid of being arrested for bicycling in winter, but I am worried about his attitude toward cyclists. Then I read the comment section. I have wondered what people are thinking when they pass me in a car, and now I can better understand some people’s mentality.

Why are some people so afraid of alterative forms of transportation? Goodness. I am fine with you not understanding why I choose to live car free. If you think I am crazy, I can deal with that. But I am not more of a hazard on the road than a car.

Best idea from comment section

No car? Hitchhike. It is winter no one is gonna leave you to standing there.

Upstate NY Mayor: People Who Bike in the Winter “Should Be Arrested”

and a follow up article

Watertown Mayor Jeffrey Graham defends cyclist comments following Sunday crash

My heart goes out to the guy who got hit by a vehicle and then caught flack for it. He can’t drive a car because he suffers from seizures. To me he is quite an amazing guy to decide that he won’t let not being able to drive a car stop him.

Sorry to bring up something that happened nearly a year ago, but I am kinda stunned because this is where I live.

Historic Monday Commute

So today I set two personal records.

It was my coldest bike ride ever, at 9F. We are in single digits, baby!

Also, today marks the first time I arrived late to work while biking. If you have read this post you already know that I will conquer even great difficulties to get to work before 5AM. So the very fact that I got to work late means that I must have had a super crazy morning.

Or not.

The reason I got to work late today was because….iwasthinkingaboutvegetables. In the middle of my commute I just kinda zoned out and pedaled along in my own little world, at my own pace, a pace slow enough to make myself five minutes late to work. Because of vegetables. Apparently thinking about the many awesome ways to cook and eat vegetables is my weak spot. Roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions and sautéed carrots do not a fast cyclist make. Forget what you learned in health class, veggies DO NOT insure stronger, faster muscles. And that is what I discovered at 5:05 this morning.

To work (10 miles)
4:00 am to 5:05 am

Weather
9F, 7 mph Southeast wind

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava, ski goggles,
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, hoodie, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves, winter gloves
Legs: 2 pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: I kinda went a little overboard on the layer department, but I went so slow I didn’t overheat. Actually, come to think of it, I can’t really be sure, can I? I mean if hallucinations of vegetables are powerful enough to make me late to work, surely they can keep someone from realizing how cold or hot they are.

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

Weather
27F, 15 mph Southeast winds, 24 mph gusts

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots

Comments: I stayed nice and warm. The only exception was one side of my forehead. When a gust of wind blew against it just right, I felt like I was getting a brain freeze. But it wasn’t bad enough for me to actually stop and put on my ski goggles.

Not a Choice

file7781245897327

Someone approached me today with the question, “Isn’t it tough some days to get up in the morning knowing that you have 20 miles of biking ahead of you?”

I informed them that no, I always enjoy my bike ride. I tried to compare it to how they probably don’t think about driving to work in the morning, they just do it because it is a habit.

It made me remember again how wonderful it is to live car-free. Some biking commuters may fall into the trap of “Should I bike today…no, I guess not today, next time I will”. Or even if they don’t fall into that pitfall they might still have to wrestle with the possibility of leaving their bike at home.

That pitfall, that dilemma “to bike or not to bike” doesn’t exist for me. Because I live car-free, I have no choice. My brain never brings up the thought, “Should I bike today?” It is either bike or lose my job. Commuting on my bike is automatic, no thought process is necessary.

My brain never tells me, “Hey, you don’t have enough time to bike today, you are too busy.” Biking is a set part of the days I work, the time it takes to bike back and forth to work is already factored in.

Some times at the end of the work, I am exhausted. My eyes just want to shut and stay that way. How do I muster the mental strength to jump on my bike and pedal away? I don’t. Biking is so routine, I just get on and go. Not a choice.

Now this makes my commute sound like a mindless miles of pedaling. I assure you that is not the case. I enjoy every commute, there are amazing and weird things to see every time I am on my bike. And even when I am tired from work, biking home energizes me, gives me that “second wind”. Habits don’t mandate drudgery.

The brutal fact is if I did have a car, I would not bike to work 100% of the time. I would still want to, but I know myself only too well. I would convince myself to drive, “just this once”. I would hear my alarm in the morning and my brain would tell me that if I drove to work I would be rewarded with half an hour extra sleep.

Instead of looking at the forecast and thinking of how to deal with the weather, I would see the forecast and think, “Do I want to deal with this weather?” After work if I was tired, I would think, “Man I should have brought the car today”. I would bike home thinking, “I could already have been home and be doing that super important task.” Every time I worked I would have to struggle with the question of “to bike or not to bike”.

But I don’t have a car, there is no choice.

Sometimes empowering myself means limiting myself.

Sometimes limiting myself means freedom.

Friday Commute

Strange start to the day. When I head out the door and walk to the small shed that I share with my downstairs neighbors I notice that there is frozen blood COVERING the ground. I open the shed doors (which are liberally sprinkled with dried bloody fingerprints) to find a dead doe and buck sprawled over the floor of the shed. Yay for hunting season! As I clip my panniers to the bike I notice that the buck’s hide is covered in cockleburs. Suddenly, I have an odd urge to pull them out. Thankfully the urge subsides quickly and I hop on my bike and pedal away.

On the way to work I was chased by a small barking white dog.
On the way back from work I was chased by a giant barking white dog.
Is this symbolic of something? Like is this winter gonna be really white and harsh?
Or is it the beginning of a pattern? Will I be chased by a polar bear tomorrow?

When I arrive home the buck is hanging from a tree and the doe is hanging up….wait for it…in the shed. Lovely. Oh well, I know my neighbors feel bad about it (I can hear them talking about it right now, lol).

To work (10 miles)
3:55 am to 4:50 am

Weather
17F, 8 mph Southeast wind, occasional light snow

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, balaclava, ski goggles,
Torso: thin thermal undershirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves, winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: My legs got chilly at times, next time I ride in this temperature I will see what adding another layer will do.

From work (10 miles)
3:10 pm to 4:15 pm

Weather
32F, 14 mph Southeast winds, 20 mph gusts

I wore
Head: rain jacket hood, ski goggles
Torso: t-shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: nice and toasty