Winter Ride Report: Sunshine and Splatter

Alas, you can't see how the two peachy pieces on top complement each other. But you can see the snow on the ground. Luckily I don't have to ride in it with my skinny tires!As I’ve written several times throughout this weird, weird winter: Yep, still riding!

Mind you, the deep snows of last week would have stopped me, if I’d been in town. Instead I was in Olympia, where if anything it was even worse because everything was encased in ice. Limbs shattered off trees from the weight, reminding me of the 1996 ice storm in the Spokane region (so severe it’s in Wikipedia). I had thought I might try for a bike-share experience in Olympia since the hotel I stayed in was only 2.2 miles from the Capitol, but not in those conditions!

Back home again, I drove Monday (“Mom Taxi” duty made me miss riding on a day of brilliant sunshine), bused Tuesday (kinda gray but would have been rideable, although the end of the day had a “wintery mix” per the weatherfolk that meant fine, cold, drizzly rain), looked at the forecast for Wednesday and said, “Heck yeah!”

While ice patches and clumps of snow-plowed grayness still filled the majority of the bike lane, the road was mostly bare and wet and very rideable, with enough pre-planning to brake in time for stops and no leaning into the corners because of the possibility of an unexpected patch of ice and a quick fall.

The day’s outfit was–seriously–just like what I was wearing in September. October. November. December. Recently the Copenhagenize guy took after Momentum Magazine for their article on dressing for winter riding, blasting them for making it sound as if biking in winter required “special” clothing.

What your boot looks like after around 2.5 miles on wet roads.

What your boot looks like after around 2.5 miles on wet roads.

I subscribe to Momentum and thought their article was fine. It told people that dressing for winter biking is like dressing for winter, period, and you can just keep riding. Sure, they showed some cute bike-specific product, but who doesn’t love to shop?

My outfit reflects their sensible advice: Dress in layers, wear wool underneath, keep your feet and hands dry and warm, remember that it’s dark and gray and drivers aren’t expecting you so dress for visibility. In Copenhagen? They’re expecting you on the road year-round. In Spokane? Not so much. Pays to be flashy.

My “special winter biking gear” consisted of:

  • SmartWool tights
  • SmartWool socks
  • Boots with a good grippy sole that cover my legs and stay on the pedals
  • My cut-off long johns that serve as knickers under skirts
  • Long gray wool knit skirt–another Goodwill $4 special
  • Peachy sweater–this is either a Goodwill find or possibly from Sequel, the resale shop in the Paulsen Building at which I’ve been scoring some cuteness recently
  • Lighter peachy suede jacket–from The Reclothery (yes, you’ll note a trend–I do love one-of-a-kind finds and those are only possible at vintage and resale shops where no two things on the rack are the same)
  • High-vis jacket; in the morning sunshine this is mostly for its value as a windbreaker, but riding home in the dark it’s a safety feature
  • Trusty black velvet scarf
  • Helmet with knitted earwarmers and helmet cover from Hub and Bespoke in Seattle (you can get them from me too)
  • Lobster-claw gloves
  • Face mask for the morning ride–not needed for the evening ride

The coffee cup in the bike bottle holder on my seat tube took a hit from the street splatters too.I walked my bike out of our incredibly icy driveway and set off in absolutely brilliant sunshine. Within no time at all my boots were completely splattered with muck from the road. I want to get some Splats from Rivendell! Or potentially these Canadian MEC shoe covers that Patty from Belles and Baskets has worn for years and highly recommends.

Leaving work after 5 I rode in heavy traffic on Browne because I was racing the clock to meet my daughter at Empire Dance Shop to provide the debit card action before they closed. At the corner of Browne and Sprague a pedestrian hurried across the street after the “Don’t Walk” sign had started flashing. I called, “Hurry, they’ll get you!” She laughed and said, “I know–I’m not as brave as you are!”

Not brave–just habituated. And so happy to be on the bike again after slushing around via “two-foot drive” on snowy sidewalks.

How this day relates to my 3 words for 2012 riding: I’m consistent, in that I’m still riding. It’s variety because I’m definitely riding in heavier winter conditions than I have in years past. And I’m mindful because that icy is slippery!

And then there's what the road does to your actual bike.... This will necessitate some serious clean-up. Grime is not good for gears and chains. Now, where's my Sweet Hubs when I need him?

Ride Report

  • Days ridden in 2012 (as of Wednesday, Jan. 25): 17 of 25 days. My goal is 250 days; this total includes a couple of days on the trainer indoors racking up some sweaty mileage. At this rate I wouldn’t be able to hit this target, but given that it’s winter and I’ve been out of town I’m behind my usual riding frequency. No problem catching up in the balmy days of spring, summer, and fall, when only the unfortunate lock themselves into steel boxes.
  • Miles: 144.01 miles. My goal is 1,200, which is only 100 miles a month. I’m on track for this one, no problem, but why move a bar I’m going to clear?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Riding?
  • What do you wear to deal with the mucky bits?
  • See weather forecast below (for Thursday, Jan. 26). With a forecast like this would you plan to ride?
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2 Responses to “Winter Ride Report: Sunshine and Splatter”

  1. Follow-up report: Yep, I rode Thursday with that weather forecast. I enjoyed another day of beautiful, brilliant sunshine. Roads weren’t quite as mucky (although I still had to towel off my boots when I got to my first stop of the day).

    The wind blew a little harder than I really like in the afternoon–riding into a headwind is WORK. But other than that, not a hint of precipitation and got in 7.2 miles what with meetings.

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