Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Round 1 2013-14

Brave.  That's the adjective I have been hearing lately.  Loading up the bike after work a woman turns toward me and smiles, "You're brave."  And after dropping off a pair of sunglasses to a fellow biker she uttered the B word again.  Courage requires risk.  But if one is prepared there is no risk.  And without risk there is no bravery.  

Years of experience and experimentation and practice eliminated the risk.  I have not been brave just prepared.  And the muggles never seem to realize that bicycling generates heat for the rider.  Not really enjoying myself except when I reach my destination.  Coffee never tastes better than after an hour+ ride in 6F weather with a 25 mph headwind.  2 days of hell so far.  Maybe in 8 days the temperature will rise above freezing.

The only saving grace is that the remnants of the previous week's snow melted before the big freeze. Riding on ice without studded tires, now that's brave or foolhardy.  You pick.

So what's it been like?  Wednesday was the last day above freezing.  Earlier in the week it was nice for December and 40F temps.  Monday and Tuesday the trail was full of bicycle commuters.  Wednesday it was warmer at 530 am than it was at 430 pm.  40F to 24F.  Then the hammer fell.  Thursday morning it was 12F with a 25 mph headwind for the commute to work.  I barely slept.  Woke up early and managed to get out the door 1/2 hour earlier than normal.  I needed the extra time.  Dressing like an astronaut is not conducive for fast riding.  The Trek 520 was the steed, had to ferry clothes to work and return with large bag of puppy food, 15 lbs.

Took a mile to warm up.  That is, to get the blood and body warm.  By mile 10 my feet were beginning to get cold.  Strange, some parts sweating, others cold.  Pedal, don't think about it.  Watch the miles click off.  I did see two bikes that morning.  Not the only one brave on Thursday.  After 8 miles the traffic lights begin and I was on a winning streak.  7 lights to obey or not.  I was 5 and 0 heading to a perfect ride, never having to put a foot down at a light controlled intersection.  Then the damn Chevy Trailbrazer wanted to make a left turn and triggered the red light for me.  Bastard!  That was light #6.  I missed number 7 as well.  When told I was brave and asked how the ride was I planned to say "The wind and the cold did not bother me but having that damn Trailblazer preventing my perfect battle with stop lights really pissed me off.

Crossing the freeway on the Westown Pkwy overpass was almost scary.  I should really take the side path but that requires crossing 4 lanes of traffic to get on it and crossing 4 lanes of traffic to make my last turn.  So I take the street proper.  The wind was horrid and the bike was blown around a bit.  had to really work to hold the line.

Friday it was colder by half, 6 above.  But the wind seemed better.  I look forward to the hills starting 8 miles into the commute with Buffalo Rd and then Westown Pkwy.  Climbing helps generate heat. No issues on Westown Pkwy,  But icicles were forming on me.  Hence the photo I took when I reached work.  Did not realize that I had one functioning nostril.  My eyelid hurt for most of the day from the weight of the ice.  Stupid, not brave.  Yet the rest of the body was ok warmthwise.  I did see the same guy in the morning biking on the Bill Riley Trail.

So I took the worst the arctic blast gave us and carried on as usual.  A little slower.  Snow forecasted so the Red FX is ready.  Need to recheck the 920 and its studded tires incase ice comes.  I was nervous since my commute is twice as long as last winter although I did it for a month or so at the tail end of winter.  I passed.  Chris 2 winter 0.

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