Wednesday, December 31, 2008

dec. 31 ride

Today I wasn't going to ride my bike but 2 other plans fell through so I got to go to yoga class, yea!   It was 1 degree F when I left so I wore the goggles to keep me warm.  I wore my thicker ski pants too, and my coldest weather boots and mittens.  My hands and feet always get a bit cold but I can warm them up by biking harder.  I didn't wear my coldest-weather coat because I get too warm in that.  I can definitely tell where the air leaks are on days like today.  There's one at my throat and at the bottom of my pants.  Gators would take care of the latter but I don't want to hassle with them.  I'll save them for -15 F.  Here's the start of the bike path, as usual.  I'm going to go with smaller pictures to save disk space and upload/download times.  I saw a cute muskrat by Starkweather creek on the way home but he ran away by the time I got the camera out.   As usual, a lovely day and a lovely bike ride.  I say this every day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

dec. 30 ride

I was back to my early schedule today so started out about 35 minutes before sunrise.  It was about 20 degrees F with winds about 10-15 from the southeast.  Back in November, that seemed very cold.  Now it's in the realm where I don't have to wear my goggles so I consider that warm.  There were ice patches on the path so I'm so glad I have the studded tires.  Here's my daily start of the bike path:
The Yahara river looks different every day.  It had a nice sheen towards the sun (and Lake Monona).
It was a nice ride as usual.  Met a friend for breakfast on the way home.

Monday, December 29, 2008

dec. 29 ride

Today the forecast was for high winds with gusts as high as 40 mph.  Winds are the hardest thing to deal with on a bike (for me) besides several inches heavy snow, which is definitely worse.  But the winds were a great helper today.  I had a relatively light headwind on my trip out, and a huge tailwind on my trip home.  It was another beautiful day with clear skies and temperatures in the 30s, and my gears even sort of worked.   Here's my car with frost on it, more proof of the superiority of the bike, which doesn't require scraping.  If I didn't have a ping-pong table in the garage, I could park the car in there, but the ping-pong table is definitely higher priority.The start of the bike path.  Plans changed a few times this morning so I started my ride an hour later than usual, after the sun rose, which was very nice.
On the way home, I rode by the lake.  I should go by the lake more often, but the side roads are usually not in as good shape as the bike path for winter riding.
I liked the way the ice formed in the gully by the bike path.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

dec 28 ride

Today started out about 18 degrees F and a bit windy from the west (about 15 mph).  We had an inch or so of snow over the frozen water from yesterday's rain.  So I was a bit concerned about how the biking would be.  Well, I'm so glad I biked.  It was a beautiful sunny day with blue sky and a blanket of fresh white snow.  Even though the bike paths weren't plowed, the studded tires handled the snow/ice fine and the winds weren't so bad as I was mostly going north this morning.  Then this afternoon on my way home, it was just beautiful.  I rode by the lake and it was nice.  I forgot to put my memory card in the camera so didn't take any pictures until I got home.   Biking was easier than walking today so it was a great way to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  My bike started out a bit cranky since it froze up after getting soaked yesterday.  The gears were stuck in a low gear.  But they loosened up in the afternoon.  I put them in my middle gear in the rear so they will be stuck there for most of the winter.  Fortunately the front gear works okay (with a little help from my foot) so I can switch to my granny gear to go up the hill to my house.  Here's the view down the hill from my house.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dec. 27 ride

Today was 46 F and rainy.  I am not used to rain this time of year so had to remind myself how to dress for it.  I have a "winter" helmet that is big and fits over my various hats and hoods.  It  worked well to put the helmet over my jacket hood, kept a lot of the rain off my glasses.  I took this picture in the mirror since housemate was gone.  I have a gortex cap that goes over the helmet.  I got that at a bike shop one day when it was raining.  Nothing like rain to make you buy raingear.  I leave it on all winter as it's a good windblock too. My jacket seems waterproof enough.  I wore my usual bike pants that I got at REI.  They are nice because they stretch in the knees and butt, but aren't perfectly waterproof--but usually last long enough for a 30 minute ride.  My boots are waterproof.  If it had rained harder, my ankles would have got a little wet since my boots and pants don't overlap enough. The solution to that is gators, which I have, but didn't think to wear, and didn't need to today.  I got these gloves at REI that are great for the rain:They go over your coat sleeve and then cinch up nicely to keep the rain out.  They came with liner gloves but I don't use them.  So I was pretty waterproof, which is good because it can be a little miserable when you are cold and wet.   Here's the start of the bike path, showing lots of snowmelt.

After my yoga class, I went grocery shopping.  Here are my bike bags loaded up with groceries.  These are great bags, nicely expandable.  They are Orlieb brand, and they are waterproof.  Now it was raining a little more.
There are a lot of birds behind Olbrich gardens.  I think this was a red-tailed hawk.
My gears worked today.  I wish I could bring my bike inside every day to dry and warm up, but housemate has returned so the bike is banished to the garage again where it will freeze up in the upcoming cold weather.   That's why it's good to have an old bike for winter riding.  This bike is 15 years old.  But it's in good shape.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dec. 26 ride

Today my exercise class was later than usual so I got to ride in the daytime. We got a little ice this morning as my car shows:
Fortunately there was a little layer of snow below the ice so it made the road surface less slippery--though I talked to a jogger who said it was slippery. So maybe the studded tires were working well, because I didn't feel any traction problems. Here's what my studded tires look like. The studds are on top. Don't confuse the dirt on the sides with the studs.
the start of the bike path:
This was kind of funny, a snow plow stuck in the snow. Not that I'm making fun of the snow plows, no no no! I love the snow plows, at least the ones that plow the bike paths.
Here's a better picture than yesterday of the Thai pavillion:
It was a wonderful, peaceful ride. It drizzled a bit on the way home, but it wasn't a problem. I love getting out every day and riding my bike and enjoying the weather. Plus, I didn't have to scrape ice off my car! It will melt later today--it's supposed to get warm.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dec. 25

Today I stayed home, since it's Christmas.  I got outside to shovel after the plows went through again.  I brought my bike inside the house to thaw out.  You can see from the pictures it still had a lot of ice and snow on it from yesterday's ride!  My bike mechanic said to get the bike working again, it needs to dry out thoroughly in a warm room every once in a while.  My gears haven't worked for about a month, so maybe they'll work again, for a few days anyway.  I also oiled the chain, derailleurs, and brakes:

Dec 24 ride

Today was the second time in my life when I thought perhaps I shouldn't have ridden my bike. The first time was when I was riding in the rain about 2.5 years ago, and fell on some railroad tracks and broke my kneecap.  I learned to be more careful on railroad tracks.  Today I was riding in the snow and it was very difficult.  I learned that when there are more than 3" of heavy snow, and it's not pristine, it is very hard to ride in--the footprints and tire tracks cause my tires to lose traction.  The city does a great job of plowing, as I've probably mentioned several times already, but they don't usually plow until the storm is over.  I realized on my way home that skis would have been perfect.  I wouldn't have thought of that if I had driven the car so I guess I'm glad I biked but it was hard.  It was very pretty though, as the pictures illustrate:
This is the view from the top of the hill where I live, the start of the ride.

here's the start of the bike path

the Thai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens

three hours later, crossing yahara river on my way home.  

The bridge crossing yahara.  nothing is plowed.  wo is me.  I stopped at the grocery store and got 5 lbs of carrots among other things.  That didn't help matters.  I should have skied! 

thai pavillion is still there.   only 1.5 miles to go

near the end of the path.  only about 1 mile to go.  

I walked the last quarter mile up the hill I live on.  That was hard.  But I made it home just in time to shovel.  ha.  no, first I ate lunch.  then I shoveled.  but if we didn't drive cars, we wouldn't have these big driveways to shovel and streets to plow, and then reshovel the driveways from the plow piles.  It would be so much easier without cars!  We could either ski or plow bike paths which are much smaller than roads.   We could design transportation for disabled people--smaller vehicles that could ride on narrow roads.  The 4000 lb car is overkill!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dec. 23

Today it was 11 F (-12 C) and winds 15 mph from the southeast.  My bike ride goes northwest and then southwest (around the lake) so I had a tailwind at first.  Good thing because there was about 2" of snow on the path and it slowed me down.  Fortunately, my bike ride is about 4.5 miles on the bike path and only about 1 mile on roads.  I find it treacherous to ride on the roads in the snow.  You have to ride further into the middle of the street, and even though 9/10 cars are polite, the 1/10 obnoxious ones are scary.  The bike paths are peaceful without the cars.  And the city does a great job of keeping them clear.  The picture shows the view from the start of the bike path.  I leave at about 6:50 am and the sun doesn't rise until 7:30, so it's a bit dark.  Unfortunately it will be this way for at least a month even though the solstice just passed.  The sunset changes more quickly now while sunrise barely moves for a month.  By Jan. 31, it will only have moved to 7:15 am!  On Feb. 11, we'll finally get to 7 am.   Anyway, it was a beautiful ride home after my exercise class.  By then, the bike paths were plowed so the riding was fine even in a head wind.   

Monday, December 22, 2008

dec. 22

Today it was -7 F (-22 C) when I rode. But it was sunny and not windy. This is the coldest I've biked in. The picture at left is from Dec. 23 (tomorrow), but it shows my new goggles, which kept me warm today. These are motocross over-the-glasses large goggles that I can wear over my helmet (and glasses). The goggles and the face mask covered all my skin. My face mask has a hole under my nose and a few small holes around the mouth. I have less fog on my glasses with the goggles than without--previously steam from the face mask went into my glasses. The goggles not only protect me from frostbite, but I've discovered they prevent a huge amount of heat loss. Now my big down coat is too warm and I arrive at my destination sweaty, even at -7 F! The bike path was a bit rough because of the strong winds that blew drifts from the previous snow storm. But they were replowed by the time I rode home. The city does a great job keeping the paths clear. It was a beautiful day.