Monday, December 15, 2008

The 12/15 "Frozen Chosin" commute

Sunday night it looked like Monday morning would be nice mild 65° weather so I decided to go ahead and commute in. First problem, although I checked the weather on I was not aware that a cold front was moving in. So even though I checked it throughout the morning up until I left I did not see any dramatic change being shown. In fact, the afternoon temperature was supposed to be 75° and the overall forecast was assuring enough that I did not feel the need to bring warmer cycling clothing. I wore what I normally wear which would be hot weather gear in any other climate.

The actual morning ride was quite pleasant and very much routine. There was a little humidity in the air which made the ride a little cold but it was still tolerable. I have definitely ridden in worse even my last ride was colder than what I was facing this morning. I arrived at work and do the fact that my office is near the middle of the building without any windows I had no idea that the thermometer around 10 o'clock had dumped and was hovering around 43° Fahrenheit. when I finally did make the connection I was sweating it out for a lease 30 to 40 minutes until I figured out what I could wear to stay warm on the way home.

One of the biggest breaks I had was I had left an old sweat jacket there in my office (Hannah Hall is an old building and central heat and cooling is pretty much an afterthought and inconsistently applied and I often get cold). I figured if I kept on my work clothes with my cycling jersey on top of it underneath the sweat jacket I should be able to keep my core warm. And I pretty much did the same with the bottom half of my body. I put my cycling shorts on underneath my dockers and then put my cuff/ankle straps on to keep the pants out of my chain.

The return trip home started a little chilly, but as I warmed up my clothing arrangement turned out to work quite well in keeping me warm all things considered . The one thing I was reminded of is not to expect a great amount of speed wearing long pants. I also found that starts and stops were rather annoying as the ankle straps pulled down on the pants and tugged at my belt whenever getting off and on the saddle. It also had the tendency of stalling me out.

I also delayed as long as possible and turning on my lights with the exception of my rear blinky. I figured it would be a smart move under the gray skies that I was traveling to have the blinky be running. Doing so was a time saver because I did not have to stop to either take off my Camelback or reach back and fumble for the button. Not having the headlight run saved its runtime for when I needed it the most.

Other than the extremely cold temperatures and the early darkness the ride home was more or less routine with the exception of when it came time for me to take my right turn off of San Filipe onto East Briar Hollow Lane. Right at that moment some obnoxious driver came by honking his horn. I loudly told him where he could go; however, in fearless cager fashion he drove off at a high rate of speed. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of courage the terminally stupid have. The only other thing of note was prior to this incident I had come across some stupid woman driver who was sitting halfway in in the bicycle lane. I purposely got her attention and pointed out where her car was sitting. She made like she was dreadfully embarrassed and made a conscious effort to move her car. Of course, if she'd been paying attention to the road and not picking her nails she may have been more aware where her car was.

From East Briar Hollow Lane onwards the ride was dead routine. When I got home my yearly mileage was now up to 2081 about 40 miles better than I had planned for the year. I am hoping that I might be able to get at least one more long-distance commute before the end of the year. (Or maybe more?)

Other lessons learned: It might be wise to invest in a set of larger Panniers for winter cycling in order to carry cold weather cycling gear to cover for similar situations were the weather starts as passible and then goes freezing.


chococat78 said...

Monday was a bit chilly, but I am glad you figured out how to stay warm :) Good job riding in the cold ;)

Anonymous said...

Same surprise.. I rely on the Weather Channel internet "hour-by-hour" forecast and Sunday night, they were still showing 70F or so for Monday afternoon. Fortunately I had a poly long sleeve I threw on under my jersey and headed into the wind. I go north on top of Addicks Dam from I-10 to Tanner Road. Chilly, but bearable. One of the few times the "hour-by-hour" has let me down.

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