This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In the "What the hell was I thinking" department.

       I decided to take "advantage" of the worst storm of my lifetime.  I went out on a little research mission, to test riding my bike in the worst possible conditions.  I have lived in the Midwest for all but a few of my rapidly advancing years and this was the worst storm ever.  I am happy we didn't lose power.  The lights stayed on despite 25mph winds, negative nominal temperatures, nearly 20 inches of driving snow and -40F wind chill.  I should be happy to be alive, and I am kinda, but I just couldn't sit inside, watch daytime TV and surf the internet all day.  I needed an excuse to take a shower, so I went out for a cup of coffee and a bowl of somebody else's soup. At least, that was the way I was looking at it.  The adventure was a five mile round trip to Panera Bread. 
         There was a stated wind chill index of -35F when I was riding.  The roads were well plowed but there was a 1-2" layer of packed snow everywhere.  At those temperatures salt and sand are useless.  Salt will cause some meltdown, but the temps are so low that the water will refreeze as soon as the salt is diluted.    Except where soft snow had drifted, the Hunq, sporting Nokian W106 tires, was almost perfect for the conditions. I found no problem staying on two wheels.  Walking was a different issue.

At a stop sign, I put my foot down and nearly spread into the splits.  My right foot just slid away uncontrollably until it hit the pile of snow at the curb.  The bike was fine, the studs had dug in and provided a nice brace to help recover.  I had thought of the Nokian Extreme tire as that, extreme overkill, until this storm.  Now I'm thinking of taking them seriously and getting a pair for next winter.  A larger tire print, 300 studs and knobbies would have made it easier and safer.   
        The cold temperatures did not provide a noticeable problem.  The -35F temp felt no different than 10-15 degree weather.  Therein lies the problem.  You know, intellectually, that -35 is pretty damn dangerous, but you cannot feel the difference.  It would be very easy for an inexperienced person to push themselves beyond the point of safety.

  I found that the temp inside my coat was rising as quickly as usual. That meant as much perspiration and, if  I chose to loosen or unzip anything, frostbite or hypothermia lurked around the corner.  When I parked for lunch, I unzipped my coat before going inside and my cotton turtleneck was freezing stiff by the time I walked a few feet to the door.  It was a realization of danger.  I also found that wearing ski goggles was absolutely necessary.   I could feel the wind drying my eyes within 100 feet if they weren't totally covered.  Overall it was a nice little adventure.   Next time I'll suck it up and take a shower on principle.    I'm glad I did it, I don't recommend it and won't do it again.


  1. Thanks for the detailed description of something unfathomable to me, a southern boy. Glad you lived to tell about it...for both of us.

  2. Not only "lived" to tell about it, but deal with it all the time. -35 is a bit beyond everybody's comprehension level, but, like I said, once you get below 20F you don't feel a difference.


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  5. Ha! My wife ended up having work cancelled, so she drove me to the train station on those two FRIGID days (polar vortexian). I think my hands (even with Hothands in my lobster mits) would have been frost-bitten by the time I rode my 1.5 miles to the train station and fumbled with my bike lock -- when the temps was -20, and wind chill -40. What type of gloves do you use???

    1. I use a pair of convertible hunters mitts from Gander Mountain. They are a Thinsulate Mitten which has built in silk finger liners and a pocket for a Grabber Hand Warmer. They work better than anything I've used.