Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Can't stop now

Now that the cold weather is here, I get asked by anyone who sees me with my helmet in the office if I'm really biking today. I usually come up with a genius response like: "No, the helmet is to keep me safe from our falling prices!" (I haven't actually said that yet, but I'll use it next time) After the uncontrolled laughing subsides, I point out that it's very warm outside when you're riding a bike and wearing a jacket and gloves. And it really has been. Being the ambassador that I try to be, I don't bother telling them about the runny nose and the riding in the dark each evening.

What do others think of the cold? I usually count the number of other adult cyclists I pass on my morning commute. Over the 55 minute ride, I usually see 6 to 8 other adults riding bikes (there are many more kids). This may sound like a pidley number, and it could be much higher, but don't forget that there are no bike paths or lanes, so there is no concentration of cyclists on any particular route. Back to my point. The number of cyclists I pass has not dropped at all in the past month.

So as surprising as it may be to car commuters, being outside right now is very enjoyable, especially if you're active. Just think about cross-country skiers in January. Those are some happy people. (I think it's because of the clear sinuses) Being on a bike in this fresh air should be just as good.

And as I see the temperatures dropping each day, I remind myself that the later I can keep cycling, the earlier I'll get to start back up when the temperature rises.

Darren J 10/26/2005 05:35:00 p.m.


Don't quit! If you are anything like me, I think you'll find that the number of truly difficult cycling days over the winter is less than about a dozen. Deep snow is a stopper if you have to go any distance. And it's hard to cover all exposed skin when it's -20 (F or C) - though I've heard a layer of Vaseline does wonders. Aside from a few hard days, I've found that cycling through the winter was a real treat.

I imagine your town is more likely to have deep snow than really cold temps, being on the lake as it is. When I lived on the east end of Lake Superior (Sault Ste Marie), snow was always more of an issue than cold. Here in Minneapolis, we don't have an aquatic thermal buffer aka snow making machine like they do in SSM. Here it gets colder, but snow is almost a non-issue.
I'm still biking too Darren. Good job on still doing it! I think the same way as you... the longer I do it know.. the less I have to wait until I can do it again in the spring (I started in mid-April this year... hopefully will sooner in 2006...). I'm starting to get weird looks at work too, but I'm riding in on mornings when it's 1 or 2 degrees, and have just added a sweater, gloves, and a toque under my helmet, and I'm hot and sweaty when I get to work... so I'm hoping when it gets colder I'll still be okay. I'll probably use my anti-pollution mask in the winter to cover up a bunch of my face from the wind, as well maybe buying some kind of goggles to protect my eyes. I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge. Your skiing analogy is great. Are you doing CM tomorrow night?
I have to admit that I'm pretty freaked out about riding in the winter. The cold I can handle, it's the snow and ice that I'm not sure about. That and the extra maintenance to get the road crud out of the drive train. Time for a fixie?

My fear stems from riding the bus home one winter afternoon, where a cyclist in front of the bus hit a patch of ice and lost the bike. The fellow skidded right into the path of the bus. The driver took evasive action, but it didn't look good for a few miliseconds.
I'm not stopping yet. I think the next few weeks will continue to be very comfortable. And I'll keep going for as long as I can because it feels so good starting my day like this.

Jim, you're right about our weather. -20 is rare here (sorta). It's more likely to be -2 to -10 C (20's F?). I should be alright with it a bit colder as long as it isn't icy and the snow doesn't accumulate.

I checked out the Nokian studded tires you recommended a while back. I think if I need to install those, my commute will become too slow and long (75 to 80 minutes). I'm going to try a ride on my mountain bike soon, with regular knobby tires, just to see if I'm right.

Joe, I don't know if I'll make it to Critical Mass tomorrow. It would be fun for my first one be with everyone in costume, but I have to leave work so early to make it all the way downtown in time. Let me know if you decide to go.
Sure thing. I may be meeting up with a Sierra Club volunteer who will be helping me with the MAP thing, too.
Keep up with the riding Darren. I am impressed you are still doing it because I usually feel too cold to get out there myself.
Are you concerned at all about riding on snowy streets always in the dark? It gets dark early in the afternoon up there doesn't it?
Hey Darren,
I have been reading your blog for awhile now. Are there any pics of your ride? Or you on it?
I may see both of you (Darren and Joe) if you go to the Hallowe'en CM tomorrow. Still deciding on a costume idea though. Don't worry about being late, while meetup time is 6, I think usually the ride doesn't roll til about 6:30.

The cold is conquerable. (although need to find something to keep my toes toasty, on the coldest day one winter I hopped the bike onto the subway since my toes had gone mostly numb) Snowfall is fine - they plow it off the roads for the benefit of the cars anyway. Random patches of hardpack ice (especially when you don't see them) not so fun however.

But bad winter weather doesn't need to mean hanging up the bike for a few months. If the day seems too unpleasant to bike, the roads will likely be clearer the next one. And to whoever made the dark comment - I think with good reflective clothing and lights bikes are more visible than during the day with the contrast. It certainly seems people notice me when pulling out of parallel parking in the dark, not so much during the day.
I'm going to do everything I can to get to the CM in time. (it's a 30km ride, so I might not make it by 6:30) It would be great to meet up.

And I have found riding in the dark alright. It's riding into the setting sun that worries me more.

Anonymous: Are you looking for a picture of me with my shirt on, or without? :-) Actually I don't think there's any decent picture of me on here. Maybe later. There's a picture of my bike with it's new fenders somewhere on here. If you're looking for me on the road, I'm the guy wearing a yellow jacket, on a blue bike, with a blue helmet.
Cold weather = i think my ears and butt are still de-frosting from my morning ride (which was still nice...).

CM = my front tire has air again, although if it was the "Tirefly" that let the air out somehow.. it'll be interesting to see if CM leaves me behind tonight. :)
Ah well hopefully if you are late if you wander around downtown asking passerbys if they've noticed a pack of crazy costumes rolling on by they'll be able to point you out. (or try to escape from work early :) )

Ah the lovely setting sun. I can't get over how people can use "the sun was in my eyes" as an excuse for killing with a motor vehicle. If you can't see what is ahead of you, get off the $%^&* road!!

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