Thursday, January 3, 2008


Instead of making one long list I have decided to roll out my resolutions gradually. Maybe I'll share some of them. Don't you feel lucky? By making them public, friends, family and those who just don't like me can call me out on them whenever I reveal my hypocritical side. Yeehaw!

One of my primary resolutions is to ride to work everyday this year -- no copping out and taking the car because I slept late, think I feel a little sick, or just want to do my make-up while I drive in. Maybe I'll allow myself a carpooling and mass transit clause, I haven't decided yet. The point is this: NO lazy single-person trips in the car. None. Okay? Got it.

So, yesterday was Day 1 of my new work year. I awoke but didn't want to crawl from under the covers because it was between -4 and -1 depending on which temp readings you note. Let's not split hairs -- it was cold. I had failed to lay out my gear the night before (something I always say I'm going to do because the process of layering takes about 20 minutes, longer if I can't find my stuff). I fumbled in a haze of half-consciousness -- tights, two layers; liner socks, plastic bags, thin wool socks, thicker wool socks; LS baselayer, LS jersey; balaclava, fleece hat, goggles; liner gloves, ice fishing mitts; winter boots (too tight -- gotta take off a layer of socks); neoprene overboots (wow, these things do not want to stretch over my winter boots); helmet. It's hilarious to say goodbye to April and Sylvia who are usually slumbering in bed -- I clop into the bedroom, my only exposed flesh is my nose. Sylvia always smiles a sleepy smile and tugs at my balaclava for a kiss and insists that mama get a kiss and a hug, too. Then it's out the door and into the frozen world.

Below zero days make for some of the most peaceful riding. The ice and snow squeak when you ride over them. On sections of clear pavement the crackling sound of tire studs keeps the cadence. In all it was a nice commute with hardly any wind. I stayed warm, a little too warm in some areas like my neck, chest and face. Sweating inside your goggles poses a real issue when it's so cold -- the inner lens collects a layer of ice that gradually creeps toward the middle of the lens. I can usually make it to work before it gets too bad to see. Usually. I was not so warm in other areas; I'd forgot to put cycling shorts under my tights. These remarkably flimsy looking garments provide a nice insulating layer for certain, uh, sensitive areas when the air gets really cold. Another interesting thing about subzero commuting is the trippy feeling I sometimes get. It's just a spacy, floaty feeling. It must be lack of oxygen or exertion or some combination. I dunno. I do know my winter rides (heavier bike, fatter tires, more clothing, and a half-mile longer route) are about 15-20 minutes slower than the other seasons of the year. I stopped yesterday to see whether a brake was rubbing my rim. Damn -- it wasn't, I was just that sluggish.

Today I was pleasantly surprised to check the digi-weather box at 7:15 and discover my commute temp was already at 16 degrees. All right -- heat wave! With winds out of the south it did indeed feel warm. Proof of the relativity of awareness -- 16 deg with a 20 mph wind can feel genuinely warm after hanging out in the zeros. The problem today was the wind -- too much of it blowing in the opposite direction I was pedaling. But the trip home tonight is going to rock!

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