Reflections on bicycling in “cold” (?) weather


Yesterday it was 71 degrees, today the high was 36. Yesterday I rode my bicycle home from work in T-shirt and shorts. Today I had jeans, sweats, windbreaker, gloves, hoodie, earmuffs (and helmet, of course).

The conversation at work was about winter sneaking in and swooping down upon us. About how cold it was.  And here I was planning on riding my bicycle. As I told the one person, as long as the day gets above freezing I figure I am fine to ride in it. The chief question is the wind.

The forecast indicated winds of 10 to 15 mph. And my usual crossing of the river speed of 25 was cut to about 15 because of the wind. Going north into the north wind. My speed of 20 on the street called SWIFT was cut to 12-13. But it was also the place I did the best in keeping up with traffic. I actually passed a lot of traffic that was backed up. Only issue was the one huge black pickup truck that decided he should drive in the marked bicycle lane and not let me sail on by the slow cars (If I had actually been sailing I would have been tacking into the wind).

When I turned eastward my speeds got back to normal — until I passed under the interstate and hit the wind plain again.

When I made it home My face was cool, my hands were cool, my feet were starting to get cool, and my whole torso was damp from the sweat. My hair under the helmet was wet.

The issue of the cold isn’t one of not having enough heat, it is having enough heat in the right places. You can sweat in one spot, and freeze in another due to exposure and wind chill. Neither of those elements was an extreme concern tonight, but as the winter progresses, there will be a few days like that. Though around here it will mostly be days like today, with a few plunges that are even colder that evaporate just as fast. Nothing stays around here for long.

We are such a  pampered, sheltered culture. We expect even the weather to obey us.


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