Rides 1/4: 224 pounds

First bike commute of 2016 and it was the first cold bike commute. I wore:

smartwool socks
merino tights
commuter jeans
tech base layer
merino sweater
pea coat
turtle fur neck warmer
merino hat
cotton gloves
bike shoes

Aside from the bike shoes and the thin gloves, the whole ensemble worked pretty well. This is my generic winter outfit, except I switch it up a little more when it gets much colder by wearing a turtleneck base layer, switching the bike shoes for fleece lined boots and added a thin down coat underneath the peacoat. And much thicker gloves. Is this optimal? I don't know. I mean, it's fine. It gets the job done, at least for the 8 miles. Also, sunglasses help. I didn't wear them this morning since it wasn't sunny, but that was a mistake.

Aside from being cold, the ride felt creaky and a bit slow. My hips were tight and for some considerable stretch, I had a leaf between my fender and my rear wheel and I can only imagine how much drag that caused. Probably slowed me down a good 67%. Yes, that's what I'll say.

Still a good number of bike commuters out. DC's winter bike contingent, even on the cold days, has grown a lot over the past few years.

When I got to work, I had to take care of that stuck leaf, the one that caused me so much trouble, so I flipped my bike off and removed my wheel and got the leaf out and then I put the wheel back on, but then the chain slipped and then the chain got twisted, but then I untwisted it and all the while I was wearing my gloves and so in that regard, my hands were fine, but my gloves became quite gunky, so being a solutions-oriented individual, who is disinclined to have gunky dirty gloves covered in chain grease, I determined that the only reasonable course of action would be to take the gloves into the shower with me and with a combination of hot water, body wash and shampoo, degunkify the gloves. This wasn't especially effective and I worried about the possibility of having to wear wet gloves on the ride home, but I set upon the solution by taking the wet gloves back to my office and resting them on my office heating unit and not too long thereafter, I had gloves that were as dry and dirty as they were before I tried to wash them in the shower.

Unfortunately, the extra layer of gunk on the gloves failed to provide additional protection from cold on the way home, which was colder than the ride in. Also of note on the ride home was experiencing the strange sensation of squeezing the brakes too hard and thinking that I might fly over the handlebars. This is an uncomfortable sensation and one I would not like to have again. Better remove the brakes. For safety.

Every once in a while I feel strong enough in the legs and lungs to go for it on a hill on one of these commutes (and this is pointless, because, as I've said before, there are no gold medals in bike commuting. yet.) and for the first time in a long time, I felt that deep pleasant burn that comes with the rapid inhalation of cold winter air. This is a feeling.

The new Gear Prudence is about bikes and cars and loving to bike and also loving to drive and how there's nothing wrong with that. I don't know if I ever really loved to drive. I can think of a few situations where I've really like driving- situations that are mostly associated with it being late and being in high school- but the vast majority of driving I do nowadays is pretty much drudgery and while the open road can sometimes draw me and sometimes really feel special, mostly the car feels like such an inhibitor to experiencing those things rather than a facilitator. Maybe I'm just not driving the right places. Or the right car. Long story short, though, maybe I should get a motorcycle. Seems reasonable.


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