Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Giving winter a try

I haven't felt that cold fresh air deep in my lungs for a long time. I feel awake. My toes are aching as they thaw out. My face is tingling.

Unfortunately, this is only the second day I've cycled to work in the new year. I've biked around the neighbourhood for errands, but trips to work have been sacrificed because of Home Depot runs and spending every waking hour (outside of work) replacing the knob and tube wiring in my house before the day we moved in.

The weather reports said -13 C with a 60 km/h wind from the west. Since I wasn't following the "take it one day at a time" winter cycling method, I was a bit apprehensive about tackling these temperatures. I remembered (possibly imagined) last year, when I would have said "60 km/h wind from the west? Sweet tailwind!" So I rode.

And it was a sweet tailwind.

As a cruised along Yonge, crossing York Mills, I'd swear one woman standing on the sidewalk mouthed "oh my god" as she looked at me. Maybe another figment of my imagination. It's not like I'm the only cyclist out there. I'm seeing quite a few this winter. And pedestrians, being our closest cousins, are less likely to be in disbelief upon seeing someone outside. The pedestrian has a far better understanding of what it's like to bundle up and spend some time outside.

Maybe it was because of my clothing. I really bundle up. Under my cycling jacket, I'm wearing a sweater, a fleece, a scarf, a turtleneck, an undershirt. It's enough that it looks like I've gained 30 pounds after zipping up. My balaclava and orange sunglasses make me look serious. The other cyclists I see are often wearing a toque and a regular winter jacket. One guy I see often just wears a plaid lumberjack coat 5 months of the year. All these other cyclists make the onlooker think cycling is something totally ordinary.

The ride was good. I pushed a bit, but not enough to give myself a heart attack (like I nearly did last week). The only problem I faced was on a sidewalk along Leslie Street. During the winter, the curb lane becomes too narrow from the snow, so riding on the sidewalk is a chance I take. This particular sidewalk was cleared for most part, but where it crossed the 407, the road slush had been dumped on top of it so I had to walk.

It's lunch time now, and I just checked my bike to see if the thaw was making a mess. No problem there. I noticed my chain is covered in salt crystals. I'll have to lube up for the trip home.


Darren J 2/06/2007 12:37:00 p.m.


I wimped out today and yesterday. But I had a good excuse about taking the GO bus elsewhere after work. Ohwell. I can ride again on Thursday, in the slightly warmer weather!

On days like these I just have to make sure I bundle up warm enough, and pedal fast to work. The layers and furious pedaling keep me warm.
Do you, by any chance, wear glasses or goggles along with the balaclava? I'm trying to figure out how to NOT fog up my glasses when I have to come to a stop at a traffic signal...
The only way I've ever found to cut back on the fog is to slide the glasses down to the tip of my nose while I wait for the light to change. Then as soon as I start riding, air will pass over the glasses, the fog goes away quickly and I push the glasses back in place.

The other thing is to not wear the balaclava over your mouth and nose. Just pull it down so it covers your chin and cheeks. I know everyone's different, but I find my face usually is warm enough like that, especially after the first 5 or 10 minutes have passed and I'm warmed up.

All the best with the Bike To Work project! I hope you get a good crowd. Even if it's 1 or 2 people, you've made a difference.
I don't wear shades (which I may have to change as it's getting sunnier recently...), and wear my balaclava over my mouth and nose, which keeps my face toasty warm. :)

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