It's been quite cold the last couple of weeks, particularly in the morning for my commute, still by bicycle three days a week. Yesterday and today, it's single digit cold--3 above zero right now according to the radio weather broadcast, Fahrenheit. Way Brrrr. The silver lining is that my ride home in the afternoon, when the temp reaches the 20 degree range, it seems almost warm. Almost. So, what's it like cycling in this cold. It's not so bad as it might seem, but there are a few challenges.
First, I have to keep warm. Yesterday I wore my usual tights, long underwear top and cold weather cycling jersey along with a lightweight winter coat. I have booties for my feet and heavy duty gloves for my hands. They all work pretty well, up to a point of course. Yesterday I also wore my son's ski mask. The problem with that was it's too small, so it smashed my nose down and made it hard to breath. The mask also sent my exhaled breath up in front my face, steaming up my glasses. I didn't think that would be a big problem, that once I got going, they would clear up. That didn't happen. I discovered upon my arrival at a Bike to Work meeting that the fogged lenses had frozen over. I'd never had that happen before. Today, ski goggles for the ride in will take care of that.
Last night was a full-moon, which meant FBC-Spokane held their monthly full-moon night ride. I wanted to go, but with the temperature already in the teens by the time they were set to start at 9:00 p.m., and my having to get up before six this morning, I stayed home and read a chapter of The Golden Compass to Tobias. I'm sure the ride was fun, but warm is nice. Maybe when things warm up a bit I'll give it a go.
The roads aren't so bad as one might expect. When the snow and ice are solid, my studded tires work just dandy. It's when the snow and ice has been hit with the de-icer and then freezes into a kind of loose pack snow that the cycling gets a little dicey. The way the snow pushes away beneath the wheel makes for an unsteady surface. It's not always easy to see the poorer surface until I'm right on top of it, almost literally. It's this soft, refrozen stuff that most often causes my rear wheel to slip and throw my balance off. But I haven't fallen yet. All in all, riding in the sub-freezing, nearly sub-zero weather, isn't all that bad. Heck, Jill, Up in Alaska is way tougher than me, and faces way tougher conditions as she prepares for the Iditarod bike race. (Radio just reported temp is now at 2F--youch. Getting colder!) But I am looking forward to warmer days, ditching the studs and doing more than my daily commute.