Friday, November 30, 2012

Bicycle Diaries: Winter biking perks

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge Bicycles_snow_Graz_2005_original.jpeg

I'm back on the banana seat again! For two months, I was lost in the dregs of directing a play. But now that I no longer have to rush off to rehearsal in the evening straight from work, I am able to commute by bike again. With no excuse not to ride, I've bundled up and hit the Cultural Trail every day for the past week. Riding in the cold and dark (thanks a lot daylight savings time) isn't as difficult as I thought. However there are a few marked differences from the days of regular season riding.

1) Bundling up: It's been a pretty mild week in terms of temperatures. So on my first day back on the bike, I dressed lightly, wearing a coat and my helmet. After all, most winter riders suggest that if you're warm enough when you first go outside, you'll be too hot by the time you arrive at your destination. I, however, froze through the whole ride. All week I've been struggling to find the right balance of clothes, scarves, mittens and ear muffs. The upside: I hate bone chilling cold. You know the kind of cold that permeates your being until Spring. Winter riding and resulting elevated heart rates turn out to be a great way to exorcise said chill.

2) A hefty dose of peace and quiet: With cold weather comes quiet. I've never known downtown to be so quiet. The canal after dark, though not necessarily safe, is a pristine palace of peace. By bike, as the light reflects on the water and the crisp air whips past my face, I understand the reward of serenity brought by Winter riding.

3) Bike lights: Because of earlier sunsets, I find myself riding in the dark more frequently now than ever. I'm thrilled to finally make regular use of the bike lights I invested in during the Summer. I know it's silly, but I especially love their blinking patterns. The little things, right?

4) Beautiful moon views: Marveling at a beautiful Winter moon as I pedal my way East through downtown is another big perk. In addition, if I leave work with hefts of extra energy, I can even take in the Circle of Lights and other holiday displays on an ambling route home.

5) Mysterious gusts of warm air: This is no perk. I find myself wafting into pockets of warm air throughout the city. They're actually not so mysterious. Rather, they are the after effects of exhaust pouring from a line of cars as I wait at an intersection or cross a busy street. I did notice them during warm weather, but not as much. And they are totally gross.

6) Biking boots: So as not to get oil on the nice pants I wear to work, I've been tucking my pants into my boots during my rides. Berry boots that match my berry bike make me berry happy.

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