Friday, December 28, 2018

Off-season cycling

There are some very nice things about bicycling during the "off season."
1) Volume of users on the Greenbelt, bike lanes, parks, etc., is way down.  Another guy at the office says cold weather "weeds out the weak and infirm."  Exactly!!  (But these days it's rare for me to be making the first tracks, when it snows.  There are obviously other intrepid cycling souls out there.)
2) "Powder cycling."  Do you like "powder skiing"?  Cycling shares much in common... when you're cutting a new track through fluffy snow, it's a little more work, but it's so very serene and predictable!  (Once it melts and then re-freezes, the magic is gone, obviously.)
3) It's easy to prepare for cold weather.  I recommend layers.  (Above freezing, I usually wear a fleece-type jacket and some lightweight gloves.  When it drops below freezing, I add a wind-proof/water-resistant layer over the fleece, a balaclava that's thin enough to fit under the brain bucket, and trade in the gloves for some heavier ones.  My duration is usually 45 minutes or less this time of year... if I was going to be out longer, I'd need to layer up a little more.  But - it's surprising how much heat you generate, when the propulsion furnace is working.)

There are also some negative factors to consider.
1) Studded tires (on cars)!  I don't think motorists realize how noisy those blasted things are!  Why would they?  They are ensconced in their climate-controlled, pressurized cabins.  The windows are up, the heater fan is usually blasting away, and often there's some programming emanating from the 8-speaker sound system.  I'm even more likely to venture away from roadways during the winter, partly because of studded-tire racket.
2) Slippery surfaces.  Much harder to prepare for.  Especially because motor traffic is slippin' and slidin', too.  I try to avoid putting myself in situations where I could get injured or worse.  (I'm known to take the bus from time to time, when the roads are downright treacherous.  Usually I'll soldier on, taking the side streets, and sometimes on my fatter-tire beater bike.)
3) "Black" ice!  Even when the roads are dry - which they frequently are in our lovely community - it's not unusual to encounter a bit of slippery here and there.  It's only black when it's frozen over a black surface.  It's clear - hard to see, except for the glare, and glare is dependent on reflection.  (The best way to survive an icy patch... just coast easy!  Don't try to speed up or slow down or change direction, or you're lost!)

Some early-winter photos, taken on the "scenic route" home from work.  The last photo was taken a couple weeks ago - I was astounded to cross paths with a big ol' FROG!  (Or is it a toad?)  He was sitting in the middle of the Greenbelt, near the Fairview underpass.  The weather was barely above freezing; I'm sure his plight was grim.  He was hardly moving; I set him off to the side of the path, so at least he wouldn't get smashed by traffic.

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