15 February 2018

Winter Bike to Work Day

This was the fifth year for cyclists to officially celebrate riding to work in winter, but the first year I've participated. A winter storm was expected to move in that night. But nothing was going to stop me!

It was 42 degrees when I left my house, well within my cold tolerance. Within about an hour, the temperature had dropped pretty dramatically.

Typically, I leave my house between 4:30 and 5 a.m. because it takes me two hours to pedal all the way to work, especially when up to half of my commute is in total darkness. I decided to leave a little bit later because I didn't want to negotiate potential ice patches in the dark and because I haven't done this in a while. Riding in the dark can be pretty darned scary.

I knew that by leaving later, I might not be able to pedal the entire 30 miles. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make because I have four easy bail-out points where I can board the train with my bike and because riding 15 miles in winter would be better than riding no miles.

An hour into my ride, snowflakes began stinging my cheeks. Less than 15 minutes later, I had to pull my balaclava up over my mouth and nose because my lips were frozen. One section of my commute features a drop of a couple hundred feet, at which point the temperature typically is about 10 to 15 degrees cooler. I had determined about eight or nine years ago that 26 degrees is my winter riding threshold. I can't keep my fingers and toes warm while riding in temperatures below that.

I wasn't shocked at all to see the temperature drop by the time I decided to go ahead and board the train. Snow had begun accumulating on ice patches (which made them easy to see) and on bridges, of which there are several. I could see how many cyclists were ahead of me by counting the tire tracks on the bridges. The tire tracks on the bridges also showed me how slippery the bridges were.

I tried to snap a selfie when I finished my ride so I could show my family how bundled up I was for my winter commute, but my fingers were so frozen, I had trouble operating the phone camera. I didn't even bother trying to turn on the real camera. (How bundled up was I? Two pairs of wool socks, cycling shorts with fleece tights, long-sleeved moisture-wicking jersey, long-sleeved fleece jersey, short-sleeved jersey with ample pockets for gear plus waterproof vented - and hi-vis - cycling jacket, balaclava topped with thick wool ear warmers, and glove liners inside waterproof ski gloves.)

If the hole I dropped down into was indeed 10 degrees lower than the metro area, I was riding in 18 degrees!!!

Yeah, it was tough, but I did it! And I'll do it again next year! It was worth every icicle I pried from my face!

1 comment :

  1. haha you sure are determined. Goes to show what one can do when they set their mind to it. I'll stick with a car and a nice heater lol


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