One of the best things about having a computer with high-speed web at home is instant access to weather. However, information availability is only as effective as the consumer of said information's motivation to log on and access the data. It would have been a great idea to check the current temperature before I hopped on my bike this morning for the commute to work. Last night before bed the trusty digital weather box indicated a forecast low of 17 degrees. A little chillier than lately, but I figured I would be fine with my usual garb.
I set out from the apartment and immediately thought it seemed cold -- colder than 17 degrees in fact. I shrugged it off believing I just haven't acclimated yet. It takes a while to get the winter riding resolve built up. "I'll warm up in a few miles," I told myself.
By mile 4 I was thoroughly convinced my toes were aching toward numbness, not aching back toward warmness. These are the physiological nuances one studies as a winter bike commuter. By mile 6 (about halfway) I knew something was up. The blasts of wind burned my face, threatening to rip my flesh away. My eyes watered. My feet felt as if they were freezing to my SPD cleats through the bottoms of my shoes. I try to smile during my commutes so that drivers will think it's (always) fun to ride a bike. This morning my face was frozen into a painful grimace and tears streamed down my cheeks from the cold. I cursed every traffic light because I didn't want to stop and prolong my growing agony. I lusted after my winter cycling boots which were warm at home. I felt like a fool for not donning my lightweight balaclava and maybe even my ski goggles. I attempted to calm my burning emotions with a cool drink of water -- alas, my bottle was frozen nearly solid. Then it hit me that it was a hell of a lot colder than 17 degrees.
When I got to work I was softly whimpering like an abandoned puppy. My feet hurt to stand on. I peeled off the outer layers at the bike rack and limped to the locker room. The warm water of the shower would be a blessing and a curse. Sure, it would feel good to my un-numbed parts, but the shock for my numb toes would render sensations somewhere between tickling (with an 80 grit belt sander) and stabbing (with cheap, dull, flexible steak knives). Sure enough, I whimpered some more in the shower. I envisioned a mythical hammer smashing my tender red piggies as preferrable to the bizarre pain of rewarming flesh which makes you want to alternately scream and laugh hysterically.
Dressed, fully recovered and somewhat late I settled down to begin my work day. As others trickled into the office I overheard conversations about how unbelievably cold it was this morning: 2, 4, 7 degrees folks were saying. At 10am with the sun shining I checked the current temp -- 9 degrees. That means it was damn cold at 7:30. I felt vindicated, but still thought I was an idiot for not checking the temperature or carrying a few light skin-covering layers with me. It sure does seem like it's going to be a long winter (especially since winter doesn't begin for another 3 weeks) ... Happy cycling!