Monday, December 30, 2013


It's officially winter. Although, the change really took place before Thanksgiving, which really marked the end to all hope of moderate weather here. I was very consistent on my bike until then, but faltered a little when the temperatures dipped into the -20s (yes, that's minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit). Now I am back on my ghetto winter bike though, fighting snow banks at the intersections and trying to keep my chain on. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think it was fun, because I have a blast plowing through snow. I'd probably be a good candidate for a Fat Bike. Santa, are you listening?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Be Prepared

I have found that appropriate preparation before a ride can make all the difference between a fantastic ride and sheer misery during your bike commute, especially at this time of year. For me, checking the weather becomes an activity approaching a level of religious zealotry. You never know for sure when things are about to turn foul, or at what time of day: rain mixed with snow, frozen in the morning, 50’s in the evening. I’ve also found that the 30’s-40’s can be the worst for finding the right balance of layers for keeping comfortable.

Ice Ride

As an example of what not to do, a couple of days before Thanksgiving I had a decent ride to work, 30 degrees and sunny. That day, I happened to have not checked the weather report for the afternoon before I left. I had assumed that it would be about the same or warmer… as it had been all week long. I was bummed when I walked outside to go home that it was slightly raining and was just starting to freeze to the ground. Glad that I had set out before it got terrible, I slowly rode through the ice needles that were projected into my face from the heavy wind.

The weather here has pretty much got steadily/abruptly worse since then. Not counting the -20F windchill we have had the past few days, I have been pretty comfortable on the bike since that pre-Thanksgiving ice ride because I have been prepared for it with the right layering, thinker gloves and a wooly turtleneck.

After a mini-blizzard hit Wednesday, the roads have been horrid. It hasn't warmed up enough for the ice to melt even with the help of road salt, so it is a bit precarious on a bike. I obviously have had to put away my slicks since this photo from just the other day, and have pulled out my winter bike. Over the summer I have ideas of an overhaul to prepare it for this winter... but all of those plans didn't ever materialize and when I pulled it out it was the same as it was since I abandoned it at the first sign of spring. I had to monkey with the front derailleur cable because it has slipped and wouldn't keep the bike in a proper gear, making it unrideable. Thinking that I had it in order, it worked pretty well for most of my ride into the office on Thursday. However, the chain came off just before I arrived and I coasted the last block to my building. For the ride home, I was in a tight spot without any emergency tools (they are  still safely hanging in the small bag attached to the saddle on my road bike). Fortunately, I was at least prepared with a pen that held the derailleur in a workable gear for the climb home. Time to get prepared. Although the minus 0 temps have me wanting to give it all up until spring again. Let's see if I can stop myself.