Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'd bet some personal records fall this morning.

Ah, the "Personal Record"

When you're a bike commuter in most parts of the US, you usually don't have anyone to compare yourself to. If you do run across another cyclist, they might be going the other way, they may already be 10 miles into their commute, or more often than not, they're recreational cyclists without much cargo. Most of us just try to best our own records when we feel some kind of competitive streak. Fastest time to work, most consecutive days, or this time of year the cold-weather record. I've ridden 2 miles to a bus stop at -4°F and the entire 14.5 mile length of my old work commute at -1°F. As of 4:00 this morning, the temperatures were as low as -5 in the suburbs and -12 out west a few dozen miles. I always say it's not cold if it's above zero (Fahrenheit)

I have been seeing a lot of long-time "fair weather" bike commuters stay on the bike this winter. More than usual. I'm almost certain some of them will be on the road this morning just so they can have a really good below-zero personal record.

Of course, I also usually say "If I'm too sick to ride my bike, I'm too sick to go to work." and that's generally true, but I've spent all week with a sinus infection-turned-bronchitis and I frankly don't have the time saved up to blow a whole week of work. Last weekend, I finally got my car back up and running for the most part, with new tires, a battery and some oddball repair work. This was mostly so I have a way to promptly get around town when my wife isn't feeling well, but this week it's getting me hither to yonder while I'm on the mend. And I have to be honest. I'm a car guy at heart, and I absolutely love my little Focus. It's more than a decade old, it's paid off, it gets decent fuel economy (can't match the bicycle) and it's an absolute blast to drive, even in the snow. Especially in the snow.

And speaking of snow, Monday's 6" of accumulation was enough to make bicycle commuting impossible along my route. The roads I use are rarely plowed, have no shoulder and become very narrow and hazardous once the snow starts building up. Without a homeward-bound bus to use, there will be days I have to drive or at least car-pool, and paying a bus driver $2 each way to effectively travel 6.2 miles is bit crazy. I could almost hire a taxi to haul me around for those prices.

The good news is that I also scored a bunch of parts to do a complete overhaul of The Twelve, although I'm waiting on the specific handlebar tape I want before I dive too much further into it. I replaced the brake pads a few weeks ago, but now I have brand new cables and housings, chain, cassette and lever hoods ready to go.

So, who of you have set new cold-weather records for yourselves so far this winter?


amidnightrider said...

Like you illness and road conditions are what keep me off the bike. We have been at this long enough to know how to dress for the cold.

Few accept the fact that we are not suffering on our bikes in the winter.

Doug said...

Once the temp gets below 20-25 degrees I look at the wind speed more than the temp. I've had rides at -10 with calm winds that were much more comfortable than some rides at 20 above with 25 mph winds.

rorowe said...

You sound like me when it comes to driving in the snow. I love my little, paid-off Saturn SL1 in the snow.
Sadly, I slipped on spilled sand in the bike lane just 2 weeks before Boulder's first snowy weather, and my leg/knee/ankle hasn't been solid enough to risk commuting by bike.
My return to cycling is this wednesday (Boulder's Winter Bike to Work Day), regardless of what my leg thinks.

David Glandon said...

The coldest day I rode was -8 with -22 wind chill. There maybe a chance to to beat it this Friday. I don't mind the cold it is the layers of snow atop the icy rodes that make the commute tricky.

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