Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

It was a gorgeous 55 degrees on my ride home from work yesterday, so I went for a run as I had previously promised myself I would. I battled the urge to drive this morning, losing and then winning it. I’m glad I rode instead; it wasn’t too cold (as I knew, but the cold always seems worse when you’re warm, even if when you get out in it you barely notice it) and I wasn’t too stiff. And with lunch in the fridge (leftover fajitas from Dos Reales — num), I didn’t have a real reason to drive.

I was pleasantly surprised during my run to find that 1. I was able to vary the foot on which I started a breath enough that I didn’t get a stitch until the very end, and 2. cycling through the winter has kept my lungs enough in shape that it was a fairly comfortable run. (So my car breaking down in November turned out to be a very good thing.) I went easy for the first run in several months, only going about 3 miles, which took me about 45 minutes including my brief walk to warm up in the beginning (I probably didn’t need to walk that long, given that I’d just ridden my bike home 20 minutes before, but better safe than sorry). This is about normal for me. At 30 pounds overweight, I was astounded last September (ish) to find that if I ran slowly, I could just keep running until I got a stitch — probably about 20-30 minutes. And I could run a whole 5 miles (with walking breaks to get rid of said stitch(es)). It would take me an hour and 15 minutes, but I could do it.

I couldn’t do that in high school when I was in pretty good shape from playing soccer every year. I guess I just pushed myself too hard.

This weekend I go up for my little cousin’s birthday party on Saturday evening. She will be 3, I think, maybe 4. Sunday morning, Dad and I will probably visit the church at which I will be married in May — he’s thinking he might want to get back to a religious tradition and I think the UU church will be good for him. I’m going to try and get him to ride there with me; it’s only 6.2 miles in a car, so with the usual detours through residential areas that make a bike ride in Naperville not be a terrifying experience, it should be about 7 miles or so. Shouldn’t take longer than an hour each way, I think. We’ll see if 30°F is too cold for him 🙂

If he doesn’t want to ride, maybe I’ll go for another run. 🙂


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Too damn cold!

I need to write a letter to the editor or something explaining to idiot drivers that no, I will not move over for them, because I’m already riding as close to the right as I can — in the tracks made by the cars where the road is mostly visible. I will not ride in the packed snow where my wheels go all over the place just so your self-righteous ass doesn’t have to wait for ten seconds for an opening (which it doesn’t, because there’s nobody coming on the other side of the road). Stop trailing behind me at 7 mph flashing your lights; there’s plenty of room on the other side of the road. You know, the side you use to pass other cars? The side that oncoming traffic would use if it were there, but it’s not, so fucking use it and pass me already!

Boss is letting me work from home tomorrow, thank God. It’s 2°F right now and only going to get colder. My gear is about limited to the 5° that it was for my ride home yesterday, without snow, and with snow I can’t go as fast to keep my cadence up because I’m too afraid of falling, so probably 10 or 15° would be the lower bound. I was too cold tonight.

So, too cold for a bike tomorrow, but we’ll see if we can borrow the future-in-laws’ van and get some food, because we’re about out of groceries and I’m hungry and can’t take my bike to go get food.

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Pedals are slipping on the hybrid and it’s driving me BATSHIT CRAZY. It happens only when the bike gets cold, only when I’ve coasted for a bit, and only SOMETIMES.

[inarticulate sputtering rage] I can’t trust the damn bike. I haven’t sat right on it since the original seat was stolen; right now I have a fairly comfortable seat but it’s slippery so I keep sliding forward anyway (I asked for a frictiony seat cover for Christmas, and if I don’t get it I’ll go buy one), and now that the pedals are untrustworthy I have nowhere to reliably put my weight. As a result, most of it ends up on my hands.

I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t recreate the problem in the shop and I’m never looking down when it happens, so I can’t tell exactly what’s happening — is the chain slipping on the gears or is the freehub slipping on the wheel? If I can’t fix it I’ll turn the damn thing into a fixie, that’ll teach it. It’ll be a pain in the ass, though, because it has vertical dropouts (for non-cyclists: here’s why that’s significant), but I’ve seen devices that you can use to adjust chain tension on bikes like that, so it might work…

But I hear from fixed-gear riders that fixed gear is best in slippery conditions because it gives you a better feel for the road, since the back wheel is not just correlated (as on a geared bike) but completely locked with the pedals. So given that the hybrid is my all-weather bike, if I’m gonna try a fixie I might as well do it on that bike.

Then again…my dad has some old frames in his garage that I’m gonna take a look at when we go up for Christmas, so I’m not making any decisions until then. If I make a fixie out of a new frame I’ll see if I can’t get snow tires for it and it’ll be my snow bike till winter’s over.

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First snowy commute

Well, that was interesting. We got an inch or two of snow total, but it was still pretty much all on the road when I headed home at 7:30.

Well, I left my desk then. When I got to my bike in the stairwell where they let me keep it, I discovered that I needed to rewrap the lights because they were getting loose enough to get caught in the moving parts. That, plus bungee-cording my lock to the rack and getting bundled up, took about 20 minutes (for some reason, I’m slow at these things).

With the snow I was going all of 5 miles an hour most of the way. I’m kind of proud, though, that I didn’t fall over, because there were a couple of times I nearly did. I stopped at Walgreens to see if their rechargeable AAs were still on sale (they were) and found that their lights are already half off and it’s not even Christmas yet. So I got a string of 25 plug-in LEDs that I’m going to try and convert to DC power and attach batteries to. And a Reese’s peanut butter Christmas tree, because, well they’re good, what more reason do you need?

I was amazed to find that it was quarter to nine by the time I got to Neil and Hessel (just north of Kirby, about four blocks from home. I work just south of Mattis and Kirby). I didn’t think I took that long in the store or on the road.

And now: pepperoni pizza from Domino’s.

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Yay snow!

Once again Chicago is getting dumped on after I move away. Didn’t happen often enough when I lived there. But we get snow too! And for all I dislike the cold, I do love snow — at least for the first few months of winter.

Someday, though, we’ll get enough that I can ride my bike without worrying too much about falling off. Course, if we have that much snow, chances are I’ll be staying inside with a cup of hot tea, my softest blanket, my kitty, and a computer (for work if it’s a weekday, my gaming rig if it’s not).

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Manly man

ForecastFox said it was 11 degrees F when I left work this evening, but even as I stood at a red light with my jeans-and-long-johns-encased legs trying not to touch the frigid bicycle, breathing carefully into my scarf so as not to fog up my glasses, my neck aching a little from keeping my head up against the tightness of my two hoods (one sweatshirt, one jacket)…I watched a college kid in shorts and a jacket walking casually down the sidewalk across the street.

Of course he was talking on a cell phone.

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In response to the question “What’s it like outside where you live?” on Reddit:

Moved here from 3 hours north, the western suburbs of Chicago, a few years ago. I am so sick of flat, featureless (unless you count the cookie-cutter houses) land and I really hope that when he graduates, he gets a job in California.

Course, I don’t really mind the flatness when I go for a bike ride, which is at least twice a day as I have no car but have to get to work.

It is currently 36 degrees F at 1 pm, and grey. This morning we had freezing rain, which stopped before I left home thank God, and there was plenty of salt on the roads so there was no ice for the bike to slip on.

It’s flat; the grass is olive green with white trim from the unusually-timed snowfall after Thanksgiving; the sky and the retention pond outside my window are grey; the wind cuts like a frozen sword and I’m asking for windproof cycling gear (especially pants and gloves) for Christmas because I can’t afford to buy it myself. But I love the cold when I’m wrapped up in a soft blanket in front of the computer with the cat asleep in my lap, last week he stared out the window at the falling snow and meowed plaintively at me for explanation, Saturday night I rode my Christmas-light-wrapped road bicycle with ten or fifteen others in the Parade of Lights around downtown Champaign, and few things in life are better than coming in from a bike ride in the cold and sitting down with a big mug of hot chocolate or mocha.

And when spring finally comes the whole town and countryside will be covered in green, and the whole world will sing to me as I ride under the gloriously open sky through the silent corn and soy fields outside town.

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