……where did the path go?
You cycle spring and summertime
and in the autumn, too
but as these three will not suffice
you ride the winter through.
On city streets and frozen lakes
and snowy singletrack.
Your bike and you can boldly go
and safely travel back.
You seldom see the sun at all.
You pedal in the dark.
With flashing lights, reflective stripes
you always will embark.
When asphalt’s but a memory,
and black ice lies in wait
buy studded tires or make your own
to be a real cheap skate.
If when you ride you underdress,
no colder can you get.
But if you overcompensate,
you’ll soon be soaked in sweat.
The mercury is plunging down
and frostbite nips your nose.
Balaclavas, goggles, pogies
will leave no skin exposed.
The weather shifts from hour to hour,
the forecast often lies.
But through it all quite unperturbed
the Winter Cyclist flies.
And if you switch to riding fixed,
the snow falls axle deep.
You sweat and strain to creep uphill,
for lost low gears you weep.
Maintain your bike with vigilance,
the Winter months are hard.
Sand and salt are constant foes.
Against them you must guard.
The Winter months stretch endlessly,
the season takes its toll.
Yet through it all with firm resolve,
the Winter Cyclist rolls.
You see a car stuck in the snow,
to push it out takes three.
But if your bike should become stuck,
one hand can lift it free.
You strive to keep your bike upright
and not fall to the street.
The cars that follow close behind
you do not wish to meet.
The ice extends for endless miles,
the hills are daunting slides.
But through it all without dismay
the Winter Cyclist glides
You put away your Winter bike
though faithful it has been
and rip the roads on faster rides.
‘Round corners you careen.
But roads and paths seem duller trips.
Less challenge now than then.
So when the snows and ice return
the Winter Cyclist rides again.
Yes, when the snows and ice return
the Winter Cyclist rides again.
The good volunteers at The Edmonton Bike Commuters shop for helping me keep a winter bike on the road.
After my underdressing yesterday I busted out and field tested my extreme coldweather gear today. It was actually a bit warmer today (-26ºC) but there was a stiff wind.This was particularly noticable on the way home when I found myself cycling into a headwind that was resulting in a -34º Celsius windchill plus whatever I was generating by cycling. Today I felt like I was wearing a spacesuit: I was toasty warm.
At the beginning of the season I picked up a pair of vintage ’80s ski pants (they are so VERY 80’s) at Value Village. I thought they would be helpful on the coldest days but I hadn’t used them yet as it turned out that even at -28ºC they were not necessary. After yesterdays brush with frostbite I put them to use today. I also dusted off an oversize set of boots that would fit three pairs of socks. Lastly I wore a 3M half-mask respirator with all filters removed. I had tried to use this earlier in the winter but couldn’t make it work. This time I figured out an arrangement of scarf, stocking cap and balaclava that seemed like it would work. On the way to work I was a little overheated. On the way home it was perfect. There was still a little problem with my glasses fogging up inside the ski-goggles but it cleared up part way through each ride.
Overall, a success and I think this photo alone is worth having rode through the winter.
Today felt like the coldest ride of the year even though I have already been out at this temperature a couple of times. Perhaps the fact that it is the first of March made -28° Celsius seem colder. In any case, I inadvertently combined my lighter weight base layer with a slightly lighter weight pair of pants and it made a real difference. My legs were so cold that halfway through the ride I stopped to activate a handwarmer and press it against my legs for a while. At the same time I tried to wipe the fog from my glasses only to find that it was actually a thick layer of ice. While trying to scrape it off I popped the lens out my glasses into the snow. When I decided to try riding through the winter this year I said I would stop if it wasn’t fun anymore. It came close this morning.
On the bright side, I finished repairing my winter bike today during lunch and was able to ride it home today.