biking and subzero temperatures

After my vacation last week I thought the time was right to show dear Lizzie more love. It finally stays bright until after 6pm, and the forecast predicted a dry but very cold start into the week. I thought, what the heck, let’s try how it 6 degrees below Zero feel on a bike. Not as cold as you might think, actually. The only things that always get icy are my fingers, no matter what sort of gloves I try.

I was wearing wooly tights, my trusty bike pants, a vest, a cotton longsleeve, a cashmere pullover (christmas present from my mom), my soft shell jacket and my Golden Gate Bridge coloured windbreaker. Oh, and legwarmers, but those more for fashion reasons, because Doc Martens and skinny legwear look rather silly without some inbetween element. The trick is to prevent overheating from stuffy clothing. You get incredibly warm on a bike really fast. The first few meters albeit are more like this: “Ooooooh my lord, what was I thiiiiiinkiiiing? I’m freeeeeeezing!”
Thin, breathable layers are the Number One trick when it comes to staying warm on a bike. Second trick is a jacket that is 100% windproof. Cold is not so much an enemy than wind is. I finally invested in one of those cotton tubes from Buff to keep my head warm under the helmet, and this is sooo much nicer that having icicle ears.

I don’t mind having an icecold chin, but always rub some cream on my cheeks and lips to prevent cold damage to my skin. You might want to get one of those special scarves that carve over your nose or a balaclava if you are more sensible to cold. Regular scarves work too, but can give you the feeling of wearing a neck brace.

But even if I’m not cold, I’m looking foward to temperatures on the other side of the Zero.

cycling in december

It was a lovely day today. Sunny and quite warm with around 10°C. Not the whopping 18°C we had on Christmas, but then it was also very windy and very wet. So the man and I grapped our bikes and went for a little tour, to check how high the waterlevel in the Dreisam (that’s our river) is and more importantly, to see how good my bike fixing really is. I don’t trust my chain mounting abilities. But, to my surprise, the only thing that was a bit loose was the saddle post, nothing I couldn’t fix right then and there.

To be honest, I stopped taking the bike to work in early December. Not because it got too cold, but because the bike paths became really muddy. Which is fine as long as it’s bright, but in the darkness a wibbly-wobbly path is not so much fun. Besides, the winter rain came and then it got cold. Even my hardcore cyclist coworker finally gave in and took a Taxi home one day. Of course, the moment I decided to take the bus again, its service became the least reliable thing in the world. More than once I stood shivering and cursing at the bus stop, calculating how far I would be now if I had taken the bike. Yeah, I missed my bike. But I bet Lizzy likes the cosy dry basement much more right now. Bikes don’t like rain, mud and salty slush. As I don’t want to clean my bike every day and I want to keep my bike(s) for a long time, basement time it is, as long as the bike paths are muddy. Meh.

Today, with the at-the-moment-fenderless Flamboyant, we stayed on the paved paths anyway, which were dry and mostly clean. There were a lot of other cyclists out there. The spandex brigade of course, and lots of others like us, cruising along and enjoying the warm sun. Cycling in December – I never thought I would do that. And it was so nice, I didn’t even need tights under my pants. Or a scarf! I really hope there will be some more days like that, or January and February will feel very very long.