Friday, January 30, 2009

Jan. 30 ride

Today was even brighter than yesterday due to clear skies and being a few minutes late getting out the door.  Temperature was -1 degree F, winds 5 mph from the west.  A cold front went through last night but thankfully the winds died down this morning. 
Here are some pictures of the progression from dawn to sunrise.  Here's dawn, looking back towards the south east:

Here's the Thai pavillion (Olbrich gardens) in the dawn light:

Here's looking towards the northwest:

Near the end of the ride, looking towards the west, the sun is shining on the capital:

On the way home, it is very bright with the sun and white snow.  

The hill up to my house:

Housemate reminded me that we go on daylight savings time on March 7, when sunrise will revert to 7:21 am.  Ack!   But it will move quickly, reaching 7 am by March 20.  March 20.  That is a long ways away.  So I guess I'd better enjoy the dawn light.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jan. 29 ride

I decided I should enjoy the slight darkness at the beginning of my ride (6:50 am) because it won't last long.  It's nice how the light changes quickly this time of day and you can feel when the sun rises even when it's behind clouds and buildings.  Today it was 23 degrees F at 6:53 am!  woo hoo.  Winds were 6 mph from the WNW.  On the way home it was 25 F with winds 5 mph.  There were light snow flurries.  The wind gods have been good to me this week, with light winds on the way out and tailwinds on the way home.  In the spring you tend to get more easterly winds so it will be the opposite.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jan 28 ride

Today I went to yoga, so left an hour later than usual.  This is what I want to see at 6:50 am, nice bright sunshine (view from my driveway)!  Oh well, it will happen sometime in February I hope.  It was cold again, -3 degrees F, at 7:50 am.  But perfectly calm winds.  I think we probably had a temperature inversion.  When the winds are calm, the ground radiates heat away, and snow is an even stronger radiator (it has a high infrared emissivity), so it emits away whatever heat it has at infrared wavelengths, and gets really cold and cools the air above it.  So the lower layers of the atmosphere (where we bike) are cooler than the upper.  This is called a temperature inversion because normally the temperature goes in the other direction,  decreasing higher in the atmosphere.  Anyway, I think we had strong radiation cooling last night and that's why it was so cold this morning.  But it was very calm and peaceful and I was plenty warm.  Here's the start of the bike path at 8 am:

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and got that 5 lb bag of carrots.  It was 10 degrees F on the way home at about 11 am.  By then the warmer upper atmosphere layers mixed in with the cool ground layer.   Winds were 7 mph from the west.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jan. 27 ride

The start of the bike path at 7 am.   Sunrise moved another minute to 7:17 am.  It was -7 degrees F when I left this morning!  Good thing I didn't check until right before I left, so I didn't have time to get negative thoughts, like why am I doing this?   I put on some leg warmers which worked great until about 2 minutes after I walked outside and then they fell down my skinny legs.  But they still got my lower legs which needed it most.  I was plenty warm without wearing the snow pants or big green jacket.  The goggles make it all possible by preventing so much heat loss from the face.  My fingers and toes still get a bit cold, but not too bad.  The winds were calm.  So in fact, it was a very nice ride, coming and going.  On the way home, I stopped off at the grocery store.   I would have liked to have got a 5 lb bag of carrots but I didn't want to carry them.  Temperature was up to 5 F on the way home.  Maybe tonight will be the last really cold night of the week.  My right knee has been a bit sore for the last week, maybe from riding in too high a gear--I haven't been using them much since they get stuck in the cold weather.  The gears shifted okay today so maybe I'll start using them more.  Maybe that rusty goo on the chain is helping, ha.  It was partly cloudy, with the sun filtering through.  Here's the Yahara River, and a cute ducky.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jan. 26 ride

It's definitely lighter at 7 am.  yes!  Sunrise is 7:18 am now.   It was 3 degrees F with calm winds when I left.  I wore my goggles both ways.  It keeps me much warmer.  On the way home it was 7 F, with winds 7 mph from the NW (tailwind on the last 2 miles home).  The sun was trying to poke through a thin layer of clouds.  This picture is underexposed but still looks kind of cool:

I'm still fascinated by the grodyness of my chain, but these pictures don't show the color the same as on my computer, not as orange.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

no ride Jan. 24

Oh no, it's a beautiful day and I'm not planning to go anywhere!   On the other hand, it's -4 degrees F (wind chill -15 F), so maybe I should just enjoy being cozy at home---though that beautiful sunshine may pull me outside for a walk.  I am going bowling tonight but I haven't yet tried carrying the bowling ball on the bike.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jan 23 ride

As you can see from the picture, I got up for my exercise class.  It is a little lighter at 7 am than it was, but I look forward to lighter mornings.   Temperature was 21 degrees F, winds 8 mph from the NW.  It felt colder though, maybe because the dewpoint was 17 F, so kind of humid.  After class I had to pop into campus to do some work.  That is about 1.5 miles further west from the gym.  Going into campus I ride by the capital and down state street.  Here's a view from State street looking back to the capital:

and down State Street:

Then I ride down University Ave. to Chamberlin hall.  For those of you who used to live in Madison, here is what used to be University Sq. 4!  Can you believe it?

Here's the bike rack outside Chamberlin Hall where last summer my really expensive front wheel got stolen off my really expensive bike.  This goes to show there are drawbacks to having an expensive bike.

On the way home I take the Capital city trail downtown bike path.  I love this bike path, despite what happened to me 2.5 years ago on the day the bike path opened:  I fell on the railroad tracks where it intersects with Charter St., and broke my kneecap.  I have never revisited the scene of the crash (and have no plans to), and I now join the bike path one block east at Mills Street.   The bike path crosses over Park street (yea!) (if you lived here in the 80s, this view looking south is unrecognizable),

West Wash. is the only busy street it crosses and it's not bad:

Then it heads to Monona Bay.  This is the only portion of the trip that is slightly out of the way on my route home, but the peace and scenery is totally worth it.  Maybe this route is 1/2 mile longer than the most direct route (so 7 miles instead of 6.5).  The ice fisherman huts are out on Monona Bay:

Then we cross John Nolan with the help of a traffic light and are on Monona Lake.  I live across the lake which is why my route home goes northeast, then southeast.   The most direct route would be to ski across the lake.

Cute monsters in the lake:

The Monona terrace.

And the rest was just my normal ride home.  The winds picked up but it was a tailwind so the wind gods were good to me today.  My poor bike:

The chain is an odd rusty color.  It's covered in wet goop.   Usually rust is dry but this is wet.  Maybe the chain rusts overnight as it dries, then gets goop on it during the ride and that mixes with the rust.  With the slightly warmer temperatures this week, the packed snow on the side roads and bike path got broken up a bit and it got a little messier.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jan 22 ride

I've been very tired this week so I decided not to go to exercise class this morning.  I haven't been blogging long enough for you to realize how shocking this is.  My version of reality doesn't conceive of this as an option usually.  It's like eating.  We like to eat 3 meals a day, and I like to go to my exercise class every weekday morning.  But I've really been dragging this week, maybe fighting off the cold that housemate got.  So today I slept in an extra 45 minutes and it felt good.  But then I got up at 7 am and looked out the window and it looked so peaceful in the light morning fog, and I was sad I was not riding my bike.  Fortunately I had errands to run.  My rule is that my first trip of the day should be on my bike and then if I want to drive the car on future trips, okay.  I had to lug a gallon jug of paint stripper (to remove some graffiti from brick), but it wasn't any worse than a load of groceries.  It was a balmy 16 degrees F when I left, with winds 6 mph from the south, mostly a tailwind where I was headed.  A few hours later (after haircut and graffiti removal) it was 27 degrees F!   (that's why I chose today to try the graffiti removal).   Here's the start of the bike path at 9:30 am.   Another sunny day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jan 21 ride

Today I was tired so went to yoga instead of my exercise class--though it's not clear that my 1.5 hour yoga class is really easier than my exercise class--but I got to sleep an extra 45 minutes.   It was a balmy 14 degrees F with winds 7 mph from the SW.  On the way home it was 19 F with winds 9 mph from the SW.  I didn't wear my goggles and it felt good to have wind on my face, though it was a shock going down the long hill from my house---my eyes watered up and my eyelashes must have got caught in the tears and stuck to my eye or something because it hurt, but it was only temporary.  Wearing the goggles seems to make it feel about 10 or more degrees warmer to me.  I got some groceries and had a pleasant ride home in the bright sunshine.  I might have to start wearing my sunglasses.  I'm reluctant to, figuring I need all the bright sunshine I can get this time of year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan. 20 ride

All praise the bikepath snowplow gods!!  We've had a few 1" snowfalls lately and the streets don't get plowed because they tend to clear off from the salt and cars.  But the bike paths start piling up.  Today all was nicely plowed including the cutouts (road-sidewalk intersections).  It is so nice!  What a great city we live in.  

It's starting to get lighter at 7 am, but not light enough.  But it was a gorgeous ride home in the bright sunlight.  If you look at my previous posts you see we get more sunny days than cloudy this time of year.  The blue sky and white snow makes it very bright and cheery.  Biking every day is a great way to get out into the sunshine and keep the winter blues away.   It was 4 degrees F with NW winds at 7 mph when I left.  On the way home, it was 8 F and NNW winds at 8 mph.  I didn't wear the goggles on the way home.  That was a treat.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

ahhh, jan. 19 ride

This weekend I ventured back into auto-world.  I admit it was convenient and I was tired and I was able to get a lot of groceries.  And it's good to remind yourself how to drive--or is it?--especially to wait for the light to turn green before going!  But I could already feel winter depression setting in this morning so I was glad to get back on the bike.  It was a beautiful day and lovely ride (is it ever not?).   Biking in this beautiful sunshine is the best cure for winter depression.  I was still low-energy today (perhaps my body is fighting off the cold my housemate has--I hope it wins!), so I went to yoga instead of exercise class.  Since that's an hour later, I got to ride in the sunshine both ways, yea!  It's also convenient to a more scenic route home so I rode by the lake at a leisurely pace and got passed by a jogger.  Yeah, I am a wimp and I don't care!  It was 5 degree F when I left, winds 6 mph from the NW.  That felt balmy compared to last week.  I got to wear lighter clothes, my pink jacket and lightweight outer pants.  My goggles didn't fog.  So they only seem to fog when it's really cold (below -10 F).  On the way home it was a toasty 12 degrees F, winds NW at 9 mph, which was mostly a tailwind.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jan. 16 ride

oops, the picture is blurry.  It was a little lighter today, both because I was a bit late and the sun is rising a wee bit earlier.  

Today was a fabulous morning.  The forecast last night was for 20 below 0 (F) and strong winds so I did consider not biking last night.  I decided to get everything ready just in case.  I had another appointment this morning so if not for that, I might have just stayed in bed and took the day off from riding.  i.e., if the choice is riding or staying home, I might stay home.  But if the choice is driving or riding since I have this other appointment...god I hate godawful boring and cold, plus the car barely works itself in this weather and the heater takes forever to warm up.  I set the alarm for 5 minutes early to account for the argument I might have with housemate.  Okay, so I got up and checked the weather and it was -16F and no wind!  That's way different from -20 F and strong winds.  So I decided it was a go.  I had a 10 minute argument with housemate, so was a little late, but I just missed a few minutes of warm up at my class, and I was plenty warmed up.  The ride was very quiet and peaceful, no wind, clear skies, and I got hot in that big coat.  I think I'm not going to wear this coat anymore even if it's cold.   My feet were only a little cold and didn't make me worry like they did yesterday, so I consider that problem solved.  My goggles only fogged a bit.  I wiped them with this rag that came with them and that seems to work.  I don't know why.  The workout was great, and so was my appoinment (a massage, ha!).  Then the ride home was lovely in the bright sunshine, and the winds picked up, but it was a tailwind!  ha.  Housemate is now convinced that I'm crazy, and will have nothing to do with me.  I told her that I prayed to the snow plow and wind and safety gods, and that didn't help the situation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jan 15

Today I got a late start because housemate and I were arguing about whether I should ride the bike.  I won, barely, and she insists I can't ride tomorrow, which I will have to argue with again.  Maybe I should get up 10 minutes earlier just for the argument.   As the picture shows, it was lighter out than usual since I was late.  It was -14 degrees F with winds about 7 mph from the NW.  The wind chill must have been below -25 F since all the schools were cancelled.  I got quite warm in that big coat.  On the way home, it felt too warm.  I'd like to downgrade to my other jacket but I'm being cautious right now.  I added an extra thin face mask to my head gear.  It made my goggles fog up, so I cut a hole in the mouth at the gym.  They still fogged a bit on the way home but not as bad.  Tomorrow I'll try rubbing them with some anti-fog cloth that came with them.  My feet got cold.  I came up with a solution that I hope I can try out tomorrow.  I have these polartec socks that I can wear over my wool socks.  I bought my boots too big on purpose so I could wear more socks, so maybe this will work:
Forecast is for colder and windier.  Oh, I think my bike doesn't work as well in the cold.  I feel like I'm going against the wind even when it's not windy.  I wonder if the wheels are not smoothly turning.  Maybe the grease is too thick.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

really cold weather outfit

Here's what I wear on the really cold and windy days (below -10 F), from bottom to top.  
Two pairs of wool socks and Sorel cold weather boots.  They are pretty lightweight.  But my feet still get really cold when it's below 0 degrees F:

My REI polartec pants.  These have extra stretching at the knees and zippers for ventilation--great for biking and expensive.  But around late Nov., early Dec. they have this great winter sale when you can buy this stuff more cheaply.

My snowpants.  I don't like biking in these.  I only wear these when it's really cold, like below -5 F.  They are bulky.  But warm.  I also got these on sale at REI.

My REI outerwear pants.  Great again because they stretch in the right places, knees, and butt, and are mostly waterproof.  I wear these when it's not too cold.

my exercise shirt:

a polartek jacket

a lightweight down vest.  This thing is so warm it's amazing.  got it at Eddie Bauer, on sale.  (yes I am a ridiculous consumer--I should be shopping at 2nd hand stores!)

my big bulky down jacket that I got about 15 years ago.  I prefer not biking in this, because it's bulky and hot. Today I wore it when it was 0 degrees F and windy, and it was too warm!  But tomorrow is supposed to be -20F and windy so I think it'll be cool enough for this baby  (housemate is currently saying I can't bike tomorrow but I really want to try it).

my preferred lighter-weight jacket:

I attach a blinking light to the back on the dark mornings:

My gloves, some a pair of $3 knit gloves as liners to the mittens.  I need something warmer than this.  

My face gear.  white hat goes on first.  then face mask--has holes for nose and mouth, then helmet.  it's covered with a gore-tex "shower cap" that I got at a bike store one day when it was raining--it's a good wind protector.  Then I put my motocross over-the-glasses goggle on.  This works well and keeps the warmth in.  As long as I don't sweat too much, the goggles don't fog up.    Here's a picture of me with the head-gear on.

Most bikers don't dress this warm but I am a wimp who doesn't bike very fast (so don't generate a ton of heat) and I don't have much body fat so I get cold really easily.