Ride Home 1/9

This is not a tale of derring-do.
It snowed. When I left, it wasn't so much a flaky snow as it was an icy mix and I was repeatedly struck in the face by icy pellets. They felt like pin pricks and it was unpleasant. In fact, it hurt and hold my head up to look the appropriate number of yards ahead proved difficult and, what I believe it a technical term, ouchy. Occasionally, an ice pellet would hit me in the eye and I would close it in response and ride for a moment with only one eye open. It's a good idea to have some clear eyewear for situations like this and I do have them, but didn't have them with me. Oh well.
I also made the mistake of bring light gloves this morning in place of the heavy ones and my fingers were quite cold minutes into the ride.
There was no real ice or snow accumulated on the roadway, but it still felt vaguely treacherous. I don't exactly have the greatest technical biking ability, so I tend to meet adverse conditions with even greater risk-aversion than usual. This suits me just fine. I don't have too many "tips" for riding in crap conditions, but I do love to use bullet points, so here goes:

  • Only ride if you want. There are always other ways to get home. If you don't feel up to the ride home, don't. Sometimes it's not worth it and if you're not in the mood, don't try to push through it. 
  • Go slower. This one is pretty obvious, but worth saying anyway. It takes longer to brake. Also, don't follow cars or buses too closely. Again, the braking thing. 
  • Pedestrians! They're exposed to the same adverse weather conditions that you are, so they might be looking to "cheat" by running across streets against the light or maybe can't see as well or maybe are just distracted by how crummy they feel. When it gets crappy out, I worry way more about collisions with pedestrians than with cars. 
  • Forgive easily and quickly. This is my general rule anyway, but it's especially true when it's wintry. Flipping off a BMW driver or yelling at the FedEx guy distracts you and frankly isn't worth it when you've got more important things to worry about, like dealing with crappy weather. 
  • For moist meatballs, use milk and breadcrumbs. This isn't related to bike commuting, but it's sound advice. 
  • Don't jump the greens. Probably isn't worth it.
I'm glad that I left about 30 minutes earlier than usual. Roads were a bit emptier and I appreciated it. I took my normal route and not the "snow route" that I had planned, since it didn't seem super terrible. I don't recall seeing any other bicyclists until R and 15th, where I saw a couple of them. Actually, that's not true. I saw some up about halfway on Mass. The ones I saw were all yellow jacket types, not Copenhagen types. We're not hardcore here, I guess. 
Getting hit in the eye with an iceball sucks. Just remembering how much that sucks sucks even more. 
On the Capitol grounds I saw a guy in shorts jogging. Seriously. This is why I call them zombies. 
I also realized that the lobbyist trap from this morning had two openings and not just one. Must be a Republican lobbyist trap. (political humor!)
I stopped at the store on the way home and it was relatively empty. I guess the snow snuck up on everyone and there was no time to panic. That worked out well for me. 


  1. If ever there was a day to be smug bike commuter, it was today. When leaving work, a woman was leaving her bike on the rack and getting a ride from a friend, apparently having not dressed properly for the precipitation event. They offered me a ride as I was getting my rain gear on and I declined, noting that it would take longer to drive in such weather. I was vindicated when the first few miles of my ride was spent passing a line of stationary cars. I wanted wave at them all as I passed, but they were all texting or whatever and wouldn't have seen me. Thankfully, I had the new cycling glasses the in-laws got me for Xmas, but I was still wishing for some ski goggles or something...the snow out in VA was quite a bit heavier than in the city.

  2. love the bullet points - I will endeavor to remember on crappy weather days

  3. I commute daily and have ridden in all sort of conditions. The key part of my gear when there is precipitation of any sort, is a cycling cap under my helmet. The short brim is enough to block the precipitation from my eyes (sleet still stings on my cheeks though!) but not so much to impede visibility. I've tried various types of eyewear but always ended up with either fogged up lenses or lenses that I could barely see clearly through due to the precipitation build-up.

  4. I thought about you when I left work yesterday. Bike (once again) for the win, ice pellets in the ice notwithstanding.

  5. I'll second Noah's point. I had my clear glasses with me last night, but I had to take them off and put them away after a few miles because they were fogging up so badly. Overall, the trip was a bit wet, but still took me about the same time as usual, which is much better than most of the cagers could say.

  6. I wore my cycling cap yesterday and the short brim didn't do me much good. All it really accomplished was blocking my field of vision (perhaps I had it down to low). I've had the same fogging experience with clear glasses, but I think it might be worth it to keep the ice pellets out of my eyes. I will never, ever, ever wear ski goggles.

  7. There's definitely a sweet spot for the cycling cap - too high and the rain/snow/ice gets in your eyes and too low you can't see far enough ahead. Placement will also depend on your riding style (upright or more hunched over). I usually get it right but every so often I've got to stop and readjust.

    As with pretty much everything when it comes to gear/clothing for bike commuting, some things will work for one person and not for another and there's no right or wrong answer, just trial & error to figure out what works best for you.