Sunday, December 27, 2009

one year of blogging

So I thought it would be fun to log a year of biking, and it's now been a year. I also want to start up a new hobby, and it's hard to fit everything in. So I'm kinda thinking of posting a lot less frequently here. I hope that's okay with all my many (ha) readers. Of course, I will continue to bike every day if possible because that makes me very happy.

dec. 21

It was 25 F at 6:53 am, winds variable at 4 mph, so a very nice morning. The paths were pretty clear and I was thinking I should have ridden my other bike without the studded tires because it is much faster.

After my exercise class I went to campus for a meeting. Then I always like to take the scenic ride home using the downtown bike path down to John Nolan Drive and Lake Monona. I saw these ducks I hadn't seen before, must be migrating. I think they are Common loons, adult non-breeding. They were definitely shy. They flew away whenever I stopped so I couldn't get a close-up of them.

Then there was one that looked different and was not shy. This one looks like a juvenile common loon.

Not sure if I got that right, but that's kind of fun if correct. We don't see many loons here in Madison, except when they are migrating.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

dec 20

The temperature was 21 F, winds calm at 8 am. Here's the bike path with a dusting of snow:

On the return trip at 11 am, temperature was 25 F, winds 3.5 mph from the SSE.

Nothing much to report, just glad I got out on the bike to enjoy the outdoors. Oh, I wore my new "warm weather" (20 F) mittens and they were great. I can't wait for a deep freeze to try out the monster mittens!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I ordered some new mittens from the REI catalog. I ordered two pairs of men's XL mittens, one for "warmer" days (20 F or so), and one for the really cold days (below 5 F). I have big hands (long fingers) to begin with but I also think the roomier the glove, the warmer my hands are. I want to be able to wear my liner gloves underneath so I can unlock the garage door and lock my bike lock with the liner gloves on when it's really cold. So another reason I want roomy gloves.

Here are my liner gloves. They are very thin. Also notice my new tennis ball haircut. I've always wanted to do that at least once in my life. Surprisingly, some people actually like it.

Here are my "warmer" mittens. These were on sale:

Now check out the really cold weather mittens:

I'm too embarrassed to say how much these cost. Well, actually it's only 2 car-tanks of gas. So not so bad. Here's the mitten compared to the liner glove:

I hope they keep my hands warm! I also got a pair of lightweight insulated boots on sale. Those were less than a tank of gas.

Dec. 16, 18

I biked on Wed, Dec. 16, to yoga class. The temperature was 3 F at 7:53 am, with calm winds. There were just a few clouds and it was a beautiful, chilly morning.

There were a few little birds flying around and chirping and I was wondering, how do they survive winter? My fingers were cold and I was anxiously awaiting the mittens I ordered. Wait until you see them...

I headed out of town on Wed, returned on Thursday night. Friday morning I biked to exercise class at 6:53 am. The start of the bike path:

The temperature was a balmy 26 F with winds 7 mph from the NNE. I returned home at 11 am. Temperature was 30 F, winds 13 mph from the ENE. With those studded tires on pavement and the headwind, it felt like I was riding in peanut butter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

dec. 15

Today I did something crazy: I got up at 5:30 am and headed off (at 5:45) to a 6:30 yoga class, followed by my usual 7:30 fitness class, then rode home. That was about 3 hours of exercise! Now this is darkness:

Too bad the geminids meteor shower wasn't a few days later. It was cloudy during the peak on Dec. 13-14, but this morning it was perfectly clear. The temperature this morning was a brisk 7 F with winds 8 mph from the WNW. The roads and path were in pretty good shape as the plows have continued to clear up the messes.

I enjoyed the bright sunshine on the ride home at 9 am:

I ran into Kenny on the bike path and we chatted for a while, then I got cold and headed home.

Monday, December 14, 2009

no biking today

A few too many factors pushed me to the car today. One or two at a time would have been okay but I had to haul heavy loads, the roads were slushy and slow-going, and I needed to take care of my partner during a rough time. So I drove the car and saved some time and effort...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dec. 13

This morning we had an ice coating on everything from the freezing rain. I wondered, does this mean I can't bike? Then I remembered riding last year in these conditions and the studded tires handling it fine. Sure enough, I had no problems with the ice. The problem was the slushy snow on some of the roads and all the cutouts (where the bike path crosses the roads). But it wasn't as much a problem for me as for the cars. I pushed a car to help it up a slight hill, and enjoyed the feeling of superiority!

The temperature was 32 F at 8:15 am, winds calm. Here's the start of the bike path:

There were a couple of roads that were in bad shape, maybe totalng 1/2 mile of the ride, as shown in this picture below. Which path should I take, the road or sidewalk?

I took the sidewalk!

But I still have to cross the road:

The temperature was still 32 F on my return ride home, winds 7 mph from the north.

I'm glad I rode my bike today because otherwise I was indoors all day.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Here are the layers I wore to bike in the cold weather (5 F). This isn't my coldest weather outfit.

I'm going to yoga class, so I'm wearing stretch pants and shirt; then thick wool socks and a wool hoodie sweater.

The hood is on, and a fleece sweater/jacket. So that's three layers on my torso, and one on the legs.

Coat, warm snow/ski pants, warm boots, liner gloves, and balaclava.

So that's now 2 layers on the legs, 4 layers on the torso, and 2 layers on the head.

Add a helmet (covered with a gortex cap, great for keeping rain and wind out!) and goggles (so 4 layers on the head?) and thick gloves (2 layers on the hands). The gloves are not warm enough. I just ordered a big pair of warm mittens (ugh, expensive too). I hope they do the trick. The goggles are amazing for warmth. A small part of my nose is exposed and this won't do if it gets any colder or windier. Too bad because this setup causes no fogging on my glasses or goggles. I have another face mask that covers my nose so that will come out soon.

Dec. 11

Today I had to get out on the bike. I went to my yoga class so I got to start an hour later than usual, in the bright morning sun. It was gorgeous. The temperature was 5 F, winds 5 mph from the WSW at 7:53 am. The roads are in terrible icy conditions but the bike path was not so bad. Plus the studded tires have amazing traction. I had more traction than either the cars or pedestrians. Here's the start of the bike path:

Starkweather Creek is frozen:

People in my yoga class were curious about the biking, and I told them about studded tires. At least one guy is motivated to try it. Ben said I was crazy but I said it was just the opposite, that it keeps me sane in winter.

And here's Yahara river on the way home at 11 am.

Temperature was up to 11 F, winds 5 mph from the SW.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

dec. 9

Today we had a blizzard with 17" of snow. So we just shoveled snow for 4.5 hours and didn't go anywhere. Tomorrow the winds are supposed to be really strong, so I might bag biking then too...we'll see...We lost power for 7 hours today. Yikes, we are pretty vulnerable in winter without electricity.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

dec. 8

Today I would have ridden to the near west side for a yoga class but that just seems too far in the winter. The ride is slower in the snow and it gets tiring. So I went to my usual exercise class and it was a great workout! My arms are sore. That's a long enough ride at about 5 miles one way. I could attend a yoga class at my gym on Tuesdays at 6:30 am. It seems daunting to get up and ride an hour earlier in the winter, but soon it's going to be as dark and cold at 6:53 am as it is as 5:53 am.

Today, the temperature was 21 F, winds ENE at 5 mph at 6:53 am. Here's the start of the bike path:

More snow accumulated on my ride home. Temperature creeped up to 23 F, winds still ENE at 5 mph at 9 am. As always, it was nice to enjoy the outdoors.

Monday, December 7, 2009

dec 7

I didn't care what the weather was, I just wanted to get on the bike today! We had a couple of inches of snow overnight, so I got out old reliable, the bike with studded tires. She's all cleaned up with a fresh tuneup (a few months ago but hasn't been ridden since), and I just had to pump up the tires. This bike is 15 years old now. Here she is:

Here's looking down the hill I'm about to ride down.

The start of the bike path at 7 am (I was a little late):

Temperature was 22 F, winds 7 mph from the north. Sunrise was 7:15 am.

Here's Starkweather creek.

It's funny how the snow is always welcome when it comes. The seasons are nice.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

argh, too much driving

Yesterday, I drove the car twice and today 3 times! Each time there was a reason I couldn't bike (except the last time where I just needed to do something quickly and was hungry). By my third trip today, in the beautiful sunshine that I was not experiencing in the car, I was very irritated. ugh. Tomorrow I have to drive too because I'll be carrying lots of prepared food. darn it all! And the sun is shining!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dec. 3 food

Boy is it ever good to get back on my bike when I return to town.

Today I left at 6:53 am. The temperature was 30 F, winds 3.5 mph from the west. Sunrise wasn't until 7:11 am but at least there was some light. The sign is back up on the bike path:

On my way home at 9 am, temperature was still 30 F, winds up to 7 mph from the WNW, so a bit of a tailwind. We had a hard workout so I was happy for a little help.

Unfortunately tomorrow I will be driving in the morning to Watertown to meet Mike. darn.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nov. 25

Today was another cloudy, rainy day but at least it was warm. Temperature was 45 F, winds 8 mph from the west when I left at 9:53 am. I had to ride a little hard to make it to a 10:30 appointment against a headwind.

After that I went to a coffee shop on the near west side and then one on the near east side, to work of course with various collaborators. I headed home about 4 pm in the rain. Temperature was 41 F, winds 7 mph from the west.

I'm off to visit relatives for 4 days. No biking will occur except perhaps on their exercise bike in the basement.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nov. 20 - 24

I've been too busy to post! going back in time to last Friday...the weather has been unseasonably warm, and both cloudy and sunny. I have some memories of brutally cold Novembers here, so I'm pretty happy, even with the clouds.

On Friday, Nov. 20, oh, I didn't ride my bike! I drove to Watertown to work with collaborators. okay, moving on.

On Sat., Nov. 21, I rode to yoga class and the grocery store. I forgot to snap a picture on the way out, but here's the way back along the lake:

Temperature was 49 F, winds 6 mph from the south at noon. Temperature was 51 winds 7 mph from the south on the return trip at 3 pm. It cleared up into a nice day!

On Sunday I rode to church. Temperature was 45 F, winds 7 mph from the south at 7:30 am.

Then I got a ride to the UW women's basketball game, then we went out, then I got a ride home and picked up my bike at the church. Here's me and Chris at the game.

We're twins, separated at birth. The only difference between us is that I'm a vegan.

On Monday the temperature was 41 F, winds from the east at 5 mph at 7 am.

Temperature was 43, winds 7 mph from the east on the way home at 9 am.

Yesterday, Tuesday Nov. 24, temperature was 46 F, winds 9 mph from the ENE for my longer trip to the near west side.

After yoga, I went to campus, then headed home about 4 pm. Temperature was 46 F, winds 10 mph from the east, and it was raining. And yet, I didn't mind. It was nice getting outside and I enjoyed the warmer than usual temperature. It got dark during my ride home. Here's a train crossing the road close to my home. The picture blurs in between train cars so you can see both the train car and the road behing it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nov. 17-19

I had to drive to Milwaukee on Nov. 17, so I didn't bike! I even could have to a meeting that night but I was lazy.

Nov. 18, the temperature was 41 F, winds NE at 8 mph when I left at 7:53 am. Here's the start of the bike path:

The Yahara river was pretty in the morning light.

After yoga, I went to campus in the rain and then rode home with Kenny in the rain at 4 pm. Winds were light from the east, temperature 45 F.

This morning the temperature was 39 F, winds calm at 6:53 am. The sun hadn't risen yet so it was a wee bit darker than yesterday, but it was very pleasant. The temperature rose to 44 F for my ride home at 11 am, winds still light at 3 mph. It seemed warmer. I guess I was dressed for cooler weather. I saw a hawk and those same cardinals on the way home.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov. 16

Today I left at 6:53 am, 2 minutes after sunrise. But it was cloudy so I didn't see it. It is peaceful at this time of day. Temperature was 34 F, winds 7 mph from the NNE. Here's the start of the bike path:

On the way back home, I saw about 6 cardinals in the space of 20 feet. They must have been hanging out together. That was in the usual spot for finding interesting things, behind the closed feel mill south of Olbrich. Temperature was 34 F, winds 10 mph from the NE when I returned at 9 am.

Tonight the leonids meteor shower is supposed to make a good showing, but it is also supposed to be cloudy here. Too bad. I'd be willing to get up early and go to the 6:30 am exercise class just so I could see the shower.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What I learned at my bicycle mechanics class

I took a 4-class course on bicycle mechanics which was very well done. The most useful things I learned don't require you to do anything fancy, and can save you lots of money down the line. I'm going to write them down here mainly for my benefit and any other crazy person who actually reads this blog.
  • if you keep the chain cleaned, and replace it regularly (once a year if you ride a lot in bad weather), your cogs and chain rings and derailleurs will last a lot longer.
  • how to clean the chain: apply lubricant, wipe all the muck off. make sure to remove all the lubricant when you are done! Otherwise it attracts the grit that wears down the chain.
  • lubricate and clean the cables where they go into their housing (coverings) to keep the brakes and derailleurs working reasonably well. Then again, wipe off all the excess so as not to attract more grit into these areas you want to keep clean.
  • We learned how to adjust the brakes and derailleurs using these, umm, barrel adjustments? These are on almost all new bikes and are up by your brakes and are easy to adjust.
  • keep your wheel rims clean (warm water and a rag), and that will make your brakes work better
  • don't let your brake pads where too thin, especially if they are part metal, like mine are, because they can destroy your rim if you get down to the metal.

Nov. 13-15

It's better to blog everyday because I forget things from a few days ago. Oh well, the pictures help remind me. Friday morning I left at 6:53 am, only a few minutes after sunrise. Temperature was 40 F, winds from the south at 15 mph. I was tired today but glad to be on the bike. Here's the start of the bike path. The sign has been taken down (replaced by small red flags at bottom left).

After exercise class I stopped at the grocery store, so rode along the lake on the way home for a change. That was nice.

On Saturday morning, I drove the car to the grocery store. I am afraid this is becoming a habit. It is so convenient to load up on the heavy stuff. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to go to yoga class in the afternoon and ride my bike. It was a nice warm day. The temperature was 54 F, and winds were calm. nice! Here's the bike path:

I stopped at the bike shop on my way home to get some supplies so I can change my brake pads. Hopefully I'll be successful.

Today I saw 3 hawks and either a hawk or an owl in the space of about 500 yards, behind the closed feed mill and Olbrich gardens. It was a brisk 32 F, with winds 7 mph from the North when I left. Here's the bike path without the sign.

Here's one of the hawks.

There were two other hawks in the same area as this one. I didn't think they liked to hang out near each other. The owl or hawk was in a tree being harrassed by crows. He had a fatter body than most hawks so that's why I wondered if it was an owl. I now have a newfound appreciation for the trees without leaves because you can see the birds better.

The temperature was 44 F when I returned at 11 am, but I was still chilled from church and my new extremely short hair cut.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nov. 6-12

It's been a great week for biking. It was a really lousy October this year but it's been a great November. I think if we'd known in advance we'd have a fabulous summer, September, and November, and a lousy October, we could have handled October better. But that's usually a fabulous month and it caught us all off guard.

Anyway, last Friday, Nov. 6. I thought I was going to meet someone at Watertown so I drove to the gym. Fortunately I had an afternoon appointment so I still got to ride my bike. The temperature was 62 F at 1:30 pm! Winds were 21 gusting to 28 from the SSE. It was still windy for my trip home at 4 pm. Then I had another thing in the evening that would have been an easy bike ride but my bike was still without lights after Wed.'s vandalism.

On Saturday and Sunday I drove the you-know-what to Chicago--both days! I'll have to do a lot of biking to make up for that. Oh, Sat. afternoon when I got home, I biked to Olbrich to meet Marilyn.

Monday morning, Nov. 9, the temperature was 57 F at 6:53 am! warm! Winds were 11 mph from the NNW. They died down a bit for my ride home at 9:30 am. Ye olde start of the bike path:

Tuesday I was out from 8 am to 11 pm. It was warm in the middle but cold on the ends. I mistakenly dressed for the middle. The temperature was 40 F at 7:53 am, winds 5 mph from the north. My gloves were too thin for this. The start of the bike path:

After yoga I went to campus. temperature was 54 F, winds 6 mph from the NE. okay, this is nice. Here's Monona Bay:

After campus, I went to the bike shop for my final maintenance class. The temperature quickly dropped to 41 F, winds calm at 7 pm. Then we went to Harmony bar and I left about 10:30 pm. Temperature was 31 F. My hands froze!

Wednesday morning, temperature was 30 F at 7:53 am, and I wasn't dressed quite warm enough because of the forecast for a high of 58 F. Winds were calm, which contributed to the cold temperature (radiation cooling). the start of the bike path:

I haven't taken a picture of the Yahara river in a while:

Looking the other direction:

After yoga, I went to campus, and fortunately had to leave at 3:30 pm to go to another meeting. I say fortunately because this allowed me to bike in the waning daylight. The sun was setting when I got home. Here's Monona terrace and the lake. Temperature was 51 F, winds 5 mph from the SSW.

Today, I left at 6:53 am, and the sun was just rising. It was beautiful but I'm sad to think that soon I will be riding in the dark again. I don't mind riding in the dark in the evenings, but I really prefer daylight in the mornings. The temperature was 26 F at 6:53 am, winds calm. Here's the bikepath in the beautiful morning light.

There's the sun in the other direction:

another picture of the nice morning light.

After class I went to church to get my haircut and then arrived home at noon. Temperature was up to 48 F now with winds 15 mph from the south.