Drive My Bike

Only 7 Degrees, But What A Difference!
October 10, 2008, 6:19 pm
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Today’s ride was the coldest yet. My previous record for coldest commute was 41 degrees (F) a couple of weeks ago, and today the temperature was only 7 degrees colder, at 34 (F), but wow… this morning’s ride was COLD!


Our first real winter weather of the season is rolling in, and it is supposed to be cold and snowy all weekend. I was excited about this last night because I was anxious to try out some of the changes I made to my cold weather gear based on that ride a couple of weeks ago. I decided that I would add some long thermals as a base layer on my legs, since I just had shorts and bare skin last time. In addition, I know that I said I didn’t like beanies, but I found a lightweight Novara beanie at REI that had some Thinsulate type of material around the ears, but was thin enough to comfortably wear under my helmet, so I decided to try that. My wife and kids cracked up when I put it on because it sort of gives that gangster look. I figure that just allows me to keep up my rebellious bike commuter image.

What were the results of this new outfit? I was cold for the first mile or so, but I figured that was to be expected. My core was generally warm, so that wasn’t a problem. My arms were a bit cold, and it took a while for my hands to warm up, but they did eventually. The biggest problem was my face. My head was hot, and my ears were okay, but my face got so cold that it was almost painful. I think my face finally started to acclimate just about the time I got to the office. When I got in the building and started to cool down the rush of blood to my head was so strong that it almost gave me a headache.

Boy, I think this winter riding is great! 🙂

Seriously, it is a fun adventure, and I’ll continue tweaking things until I get the right formula. Based on what I’ve read from other winter bike commuters it seems like everyone is different, and it takes a little while to get things figured out. I’ve read that others have kept a log of their winter riding, noting their outfit for the day and how well it performed. I’m going to do that as well, and will share that info with you as it develops.

Ride safe and stay warm out there.

Another Night Time Ride
July 16, 2008, 8:43 am
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Last night I had an evening obligation after work, so I ended up doing a 6 mile commute home in the dark.j0387549

If you read this blog, you may remember that my first night ride was very difficult and left me discouraged and dragging. I’m happy to say that the night time riding thing is getting much better. I believe that last night was the third night ride I have done since I started bike commuting, and it is growing on me. There are elements of it I still find a bit creepy, like being on a dark stretch of road with nobody else around except for that one car coming up behind you that seems to be awfully close to your side of the road, but I have had safe rides and have enjoyed the cooler night air. I think that most of my night riding phobias are  just in my head, as I really haven’t had any problems with drivers, and the traffic is actually much lighter than during my normal daytime rides. The night time traffic is completely different, and last night it seemed that people were a lot more relaxed, out enjoying an evening drive with their windows down and their music playing. One thing I have noticed about night riding is that I have to play the mental game with myself a bit differently. I have noticed that when I start out at night I am fighting lots of inner objections as to why riding home in the dark is a bad idea. Of course, one of the best arguments with myself is that the only other option at that point is to walk, so of course the bike ride wins. I have also noticed that I am usually more tired than when starting my daytime rides, but if I allow myself to slow the pace a good bit and just enjoy the cool night air, and the night experience, then things begin to shape up and the ride actually becomes a rather pleasant experience.

How about you? Do you do much riding at night? Has it been something you enjoy, or something you have struggled with?