Winter biking!

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting.
Monday, December 10th, 2007 at 10:57 am

Today was the day.  I’d finally had enough with excuses, so even though I still have a bit of a cold I dressed up, pulled out the bike, and hit the snow-packed trail to work.  It was awesome!

  • Temperature: 10F, pretty calm day, sun shining.
  • I wore some nice socks and my hiking boots: feet never started to get cold.
  • Synthetic long underwear, two pairs of boxer briefs, and shorts for my legs: also plenty warm.
  • Synthetic long sleeve undershirt, synthetic light-weight jacket with neck zipper, and a nice rain jacket outer layer to block the wind: waaay too warm by the time I got there.  Started sweating out, which can be dangerous if I ever have to stop.  Need to unzip my neck, open the chest a bit, and unzip the underarm vents as I warm up next time.
  • Lightweight hat and velcro face protector: super warm.  May need to vent my head better.
  • Synthetic liners and my new lobster gloves: freezing freakin’ cold finger tips.  My fingers must have extra bad circulation or something, or maybe I should try without the liners in case things were too tight?  I don’t know, but it was really painful when I arrived…  I had to run them under some lukewarm water for a minute or two to make things feel better, and they’re still (2 hours later) a little sensitive.  Hmm.  I may need to get some pogies to put my hands in.

Overall impressions of the ride: the snow makes me go slower.  The Midtown Greenway’s been plowed pretty well, but there’s about 1/2" to 1" of packed snow on most of the surface.  (that picture’s from last year, when we had much less snow)  Thanks to the plowing there aren’t many tire track ruts, but there’s just enough unevenness and slipping potential to make me slow down and really focus on the terrain.  I have to work at keeping my upper body relaxed: my instinct is to tighten up to keep my front wheel aligned, but it’s actually much easier and safer to stay loose and react gently rather than trying to keep it tight.

(actually, that may be part of my cold finger issue – may have been gripping too tight, combined with a slower ride generating less internal heat.  Hmm.)

The on-street portion of the ride was good; I have to jump out more into the lane where it’s been plowed, but I never really felt unsafe or like I was impeding traffic.

We’ll see how it goes tonight in the dark, but so far it’s a blast!

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6 Responses to “Winter biking!”

  1. Rick Says:

    Hard core! When I bike in the cold, it is hard to keep my fingers warm too. What has worked best is to use a pair of pretty large down filled mittens. That way I can make a fist inside the mitten for a while with each hand, and they stay warmer. But any gloves with individual fingers never kept me warm enough. Ride safe!

  2. Laurel Says:

    Holy crap, you are hard core. I can barely stand to walk outside during the winter, let alone ride a bike. I’m not surprised your hands were the coldest part, but those “climitt” things look pretty awesome.

  3. eric Says:

    Hey it helps to flex your fingers on the handle bars and not put to much weight on the them. Seems like bent wrists + weight + cold is bad news for circulation. You have better balance in snow with your weight back anyway!

    Maybe some neoprene liners for the gloves? That stuff is some kind of magic. So much fun! I should get my winter bike back out.

  4. troy Says:

    Wow! And I considered it a step forward just using public transportation this winter! Well done sir! Perhaps little campfires under each hand. Think about it: Heat Scary as Hell fireson the front of the bike = Nothing bad! Or maybe just some sort of gentle heating element that the bike actually powers up? Bike on friend!

  5. Marianne Says:

    I’m impressed. I can handle walking in the cold, but biking is a whole different thing. Besides trying to stay warm, you have to deal with ice, snow, and tire ruts while you are balanced on two narrow wheels. Sounds like it builds character!

  6. Duo Team! » Blog Archive » Below zero biking! Says:

    […] indeed popsicles when I arrived.  Doing fine now, and not nearly as bad as my fingers were that first day, but I definitely need to find either better shoes or better socks.  The hiking boots and […]