Friday, February 2, 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside

This is Ohio.

On Wednesday I rode to work, and the morning temperature was 18º American. By the afternoon ride home that day it was 40º. Yesterday I rode to work and the temperature in the morning was still about 40º, but started falling in the afternoon. During the night, temperatures plunged again. This morning it was about 10º, with a reported windchill in negative digits. Yes, I rode anyhow. That is now the coldest I've ever been out on my bike.

You can't tell, but I'm smiling.
I'm happy to report that the Lake winter boots I wrote about in December continue to impress, as my toes never felt the cold, even after an hour on the road. Likewise, my Pearl Izumi lobster gloves kept my fingers warm from start to finish (I did utilize a thin polypropylene liner glove inside them - though I admit that may not have been necessary - I was being proactive).

Below 20º I find that the cold really hurts my eyes - enough to make them feel like they're going to explode, and they tear up, then the tears freeze, etc. etc. To get some protection from that, I picked up a pair of clear ski goggles. The fact that they were only $16 online makes me suspect they are likely Chinese knockoffs of a famous brand (I don't honestly know, and don't think I could tell the difference). Though I'd never buy a knockoff bike frame or major bike component where failure could be fatal (or at least painful), in the case of the goggles I'm not that concerned. My only concern was that they might fog up in the cold (they were listed as "fog free," but if they're "fakes" then who knows, right?), but that has not been an issue. After about 45 minutes on my commute, I was starting to notice a little bit of fogging at the top of the lens, around my brow, but nothing bad enough to affect my vision. Goggles do reduce my peripheral vision a little, but they added to my comfort a lot, so it was a good trade.

One of the blog's readers suggested giving studded tires a try. Actually, he recommended the ones from 45Nrth, but I was checking around and was having some trouble locating a pair in the size I needed/wanted, but was able to get a pair of Schwalbe's Winter line from my local shop. I have encountered patches of ice on the road in these cold early mornings, but the tires definitely feel more secure and give me a little peace of mind. However, they are heavy and truly slow. On clear pavement, they sound a bit like bacon frying. The rolling resistance on the model of tires I got is supposed to be better than most - yet that's obviously relative. I would say that the effect is probably not unlike putting off-road 4x4 tires on a sports car. The added security is a worthwhile trade, but I look forward to a true warming trend when I can put some Panaracer Paselas back on the bike.

As of today, I've ridden to work 80 days out of the last 100. Feeling pretty good about that. That's all for now. Looking forward to the afternoon ride home. It's supposed to get up to 19º! WooHoo!


  1. I second your thought on studded tires. Heavy, with a lot of rolling resistance, but essential for riding anywhere that gets ice in the winter. To me, they sound like a flock of bees following me around. I can't wait for warmer weather to put my summer tires back on the bike.

    In my area, back in January, we had a too-long stretch of really cold weather. On some days, it was -5 F with a wind chill. And yes, I rode all through that stretch, too, albeit with at least two layers on almost every part of my body. I don't do goggles, but I did break out the long underwear, long wool coat, scarf, and extra-thick ski gloves.

  2. I went down on black ice a couple years back. I landed with my arm raised and tore some cartilage in my ribcage, which made breathing very painful. While I was off the bike, I ordered a set of studded Marathon Winter tires, then bedded the studs in after I was able to ride well enough again.

    I haven't seen weather like that ever since, though I'm prepared for next time now.

  3. Well done!

    Heading out shortly for a ride in the woods, currently 10F, going to be a blast =:)