Today’s ride

It was my coldest morning commute of the year today.  14° with a wind chill of 2°.  I usually check the temperature before getting on the bike, so I can figure out what to wear.  Didn’t bother today..  already knew it was going to be cold, so I just bundled up.  In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t check, because it would have made the ride seem colder, and may have deterred me from biking at all.  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

Stuff I wore..  Head: balaclava, helmet and Uvex glasses.  Torso: short sleeve exercise top, arm warmers, Under Armour long sleeve top, PolarTec top, outer shell.  Legs: thermal tights under cycling shorts.  Feet:  SmartWool socks, “toasty toes” chemical toe warmers, cycling shoes, slip-on toe covers, and neoprene thermal shoe boots.  Hands: thick winter gloves.

I kept pretty warm with the above.  My hands and wrists were a little sweaty at the end.  This was the first time I tried the chemical toe warmers, and they worked pretty well, that is to say, my toes weren’t numb at the end, unlike the last time I rode when it was south of 20 degrees.  My face got a little cold when riding into the wind, but not unbearably so.

20° seems to be the magic ice-in-the-water-bottle cutoff temperature.  I’ve had ice on both my sub-20 rides, but never anything when it’s 20 or above.

Last but not least..  I’d recommend staying away from the “Zero Xposur” brand.  They make various kinds of winter outerwear.  I’ve had the zipper break on a winter coat, and the stitching is coming apart on a pair of heavy gloves, both after relatively light and infrequent use.  Might just be a coincidence, but I’m going to be avoiding them in the future.

Advertisements

Aargh, I hate winter

Forces of nature are conspiring to keep me off my bike lately.

I managed to bike to work twice last week in spite of the big ice storm that hit the Baltimore/Washington area.  Then I went out for a quick 20-miler this past Sunday, and promptly broke a spoke on my back wheel.  This was the third broken spoke for me since last fall.  The first, I replaced myself.  After the second, I dropped the wheel off at the bike shop.  They replaced the spoke, trued my wheel up and informed me that my rim was bent and this likely wouldn’t be the end of my problem.  Sure enough, they were right.

So…  the bike spent Monday and Tuesday in the shop getting a wheel rebuild with a new rim and spokes.  Naturally, the weather both days would have been fine for bike commuting, if I had had a working bike.  Tuesday evening I bring the bike home from the shop, anxious to ride in this morning.  And of course, this morning I wake up to a “surprise” 2-inch snowfall.  Bummer.

The snow prompted UMBC to delay opening till 10am (caution on their part because of all the bad press they got after the ice storm, I guess).  By 9:45, conditions had improved to the point where I probably could have biked in, but I had a 10am meeting scheduled, which didn’t leave me enough time.  So I drove in, and found out the meeting had been cancelled.  And now it’s beautiful out.  A Murphy’s Law day if there ever was one.

It looks like the snow is out of the forecast for awhile, but tomorrow is going to be arctic with a high of 28 and a wind chill of probably half that.  Damned if that’s going to stop me, though. 🙂

The Joys of Winter Biking

Took my first fall of 2009 yesterday.  We were coming off two straight days of rain, it was 7:45am and the temperature was right around freezing.  All of that adds up to (you guessed it) ice on the road.  Most of the roads were treated and in pretty good shape, but in my infinite wisdom I decided to extend the ride with a lap through the State Park.  And in the park, the roads were..  not good.  Long story short, I was coming down a hill, braking a bit, hit a previously-unseen patch of black ice, and the bike promptly came out from under me.

Falls happen so quickly and suddenly that it’s often hard to tell right away what happened and if there’s been any damage.  Sometimes it doesn’t become apparent until you try to get back on the bike and resume the ride.  In my case, I ended up completely undamaged (yay for slippery ice and multiple layers of winter clothing) but my front wheel was knocked out of true.  Turned out to be a loose spoke.  A quick twist with a spoke wrench got me back on the road.  I also had to re-position my front fender, which I did after the ride.  So apparently my front wheel must have taken some kind of impact, although the fall was so smooth that it’s hard to picture how it could have happened.

I guess I should count myself lucky that this was such an easy fall and it happened in the park where there’s no traffic.  It’s been north of 20 years since I last did any regular riding in the winter, but this was enough to remind me of the perils of icy roads..