Tagged: rain

This week so far

People.  It’s been a good week so far.  I’ve biked to campus the past two days, rather uneventfully I must say, and I ran a couple of errands yesterday.  Here’s my ride from Tuesday.

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“There and Back Again: A Cyclist’s Tale.”

Yesterday I biked to campus and back again and ran a few errands after.  Here’s that ride:

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The first of the two errands was the package store on Madison and McLean for some vino.  (I do love those bike lanes on Madison, but lately I’ve become much more aware of the likelihood of getting doored.  Got to keep my eyes open.)  The second was to the home of a certain Kyle W. (last name omitted to protect anonymity) to borrow a certain piece of biking hardware, otherwise known as a trailer.

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Boo-yah.  Imma haul some sheet today, boyee.  More on my trailer adventures later.

Also, don’t forget about tonight’s Tweed Ride!

This week’s commutes

Hi everyone.  I had a good week on my bike, despite the arrival of cold weather and a bit of rain.  Actually, I should say that I had a good week on my bike because of the arrival of cold weather and a bit of rain, as this is my favorite time of the year to bike.  Most of this is due to the fact that autumn and winter, followed by spring, are my favorite seasons.  (Summer, not so much.)  I picked a really odd town to live in, for someone who loves fall so much, but the job take you where it takes you.  At least I don’t live in Phoenix.

Anyway, my week began with me driving.  (GASP!)  I know, I know … but I had to go to Target to buy Christmas presents for my two Salvation Army Angels, and considering that one of them, an eleven-year-old girl, wanted a bike for Christmas, there was no way I could haul a bike with my bike.  My panniers are roomy, but not that roomy.  Plus my other angel, a man in his 70s, wanted a George Foreman grill for Christmas.  While I am a vegetarian and have little use for such a device, by God, if a George Foreman grill he wants, a George Foreman grill he gets.  (Also, please ignore the fact that I bought a Target bike for someone.)  I also had a meeting that afternoon in North Memphis, and there was no place for me to change clothes at the meeting place.  Plus it was raining, so arriving in any decent condition would have been nearly impossible.  So I drove.

And since I’m feeling confessional here, I also drove on Friday.  I had to deliver the aforementioned presents to the Salvation Army’s warehouse on E. Raines Road, plus run about half a dozen other errands.  And I drove today, since it’s hard to carry 15 bags of composted manure for my garden in my panniers.

But Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I rode.  And loved it.  Tuesday was still rainy, but not as bad as Monday, and I acquired a lovely layer of road grime on my bike and legs as a result. Wednesday and Thursday were really nice: sunny and chilly, but not yet brutally cold.  I didn’t bother logging my route on Tuesday since I just biked to work and back, but Wednesday and Thursday I did.  Here’s what they looked like.

This is Wednesday’s ride.

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I started my day by biking to Otherlands for some coffee and a bagel.  After getting my caffeine on, I biked to campus via the Chickasaw Gardens route and got my work on.  At some point during the day I checked my RSS feeds (using the lovely NetNewsWire) and found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, the only cooking blog I read.  I texted my wife, who had planned to pick up Lenny’s for dinner, and told her I was cooking that night.  This necessitated a trip to Kroger, which explains the odd little spur into Poplar Plaza.  After leaving Kroger, I biked home, via Chickasaw Gardens, the Beltline community, and Tiger Lanes.  It was a great day.  Here’s a clickable map of my ride.

On Thursday I had even more biking adventures.  I needed to deliver some papers to the Memphis City School’s Teaching/Learning Academy at the corner of Union and Hollywood before I headed to campus, which meant biking on Union for a block or two during rush hour.  It wasn’t so bad; traffic was kind of light, and I made it in and out of the TLA with no problem. I then biked east, planning to again take the Chickasaw Gardens route to campus, but a train was crossing at Garden Lane, so I headed south on Flicker Street to Central, then south on Buntyn to Midland, then south on Goodwyn to Southern.  After teaching my three classes, I biked home, changed clothes, and headed to Boscos for a round (or two) of beers and dinner. My belly full and my week coming to an end, I biked home.

Here’s a map of Thursday’s ride.

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And here’s that clickable link.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my rides.  I plan to share some links with you all tomorrow.  In the meantime, stay warm and keep biking in Memphis.

[shiver]

This is the first winter since I started riding where I didn’t stop biking to work when the weather turned cold.  Biking in almost any climate requires certain considerations, most notably what clothes to wear, but winter cycling is unique in how the elements can interact and turn an otherwise ordinary ride into something fairly miserable.

Wind and rain are among the two factors that exhibit a multiplier effect when combined with frosty temperatures.  Riding into a head-wind is a pain in the ass no matter what the weather is like, but drop the outside temperature to around 40ºF and even a small breeze can feel like death is sighing on your neck.  Rain also is a game-changer: a nice shower during a summer ride is very nearly a blessing, but in the winter it becomes a pace-slowing, runny nose-inducing cluster fuck.  Not to mention the ever-present danger of gutters full of slick wet leaves.  Yikes.

I am aware that I’m writing from a position of relative privilege here.  Note that I didn’t include snow, ice, slush, or sleet in my list of winter weather perils.  That’s mostly because, here in Memphis, we don’t get that much frozen precipitation in the winter, so spending a lot of time expounding on it here seems unnecessary.  Plus, I’ve never biked in such conditions, so what would I have to say anyway?

This isn’t to say that I haven’t encountered any extreme conditions while biking to school.  Just recently I set a new record for the coldest temperature (not including windchill) in which I biked to work: 21ºF.  My previous record low, 22ºF, was set the previous day (this was back in early-December) and broke a record that had stood since last winter, that of 30ºF.

Twenty-one degrees is cold weather by nearly any standard, unless perhaps you consider diving into ice-covered lakes a form of entertainment.  Surprisingly though, it really wasn’t that bad.  In fact, the key to biking in cold weather (not taking into account ice or snow on the ground) is simply to dress in layers.  Preferably, many layers of relatively thin clothing.  I usually start with a long-sleeved, wool-blend shirt by Icebreaker as my first layer.  If it’s really cold, I’ll add a second long-sleeve shirt, usually Capilene, then a cotton t-shirt on top of that.  Note: cotton provides almost no insulating power; I just wear it to cover my chest and stomach.

Below the waist I wear biking shorts, long Capilene bottoms, and some old hiking pants I bought years ago at REI.  The pants are rather thin, but they do a decent job of stopping the wind and reducing exposure to rain.  Some Smartwool socks, a Pearl Izumi shell jacket, a Bontrager hat to cover my head and ears, and my ratty old running shoes completes the ensemble.  Plus a scarf and some gloves if it’s really nasty outside.

Note what is missing from my outfit: down and fleece.  Down jackets are great if you’re freezing your butt off in an outdoor sports arena in winter, but are terrible for exercise.  Why?  They over-insulate you, to the point that the sweat can freeze on your skin during stops.  Fleece is good, but it need not be three inches thick.  A thin fleece jacket under a shell provides more than enough insulation.

The good people over at LifeHacker posted an article about biking in winter which I enjoyed.  I didn’t read the article before I started cold weather cycling, but it covers most of what I already knew or figured out.  Also, here’s an article about using zip ties to create homemade snow tires.  I haven’t had to go that far in preparing for winter biking, but it’s good to how to mod your tires if needed.