Friday, December 10, 2010

What a Schmozzle

A commute this morning to work is exactly why I dream of bike trips from the past.  When I woke up and staggered my way to the coffee-maker, I passed our little electronic weather station and discovered that it was only -15C.  Back in bed with my black plasma, I began to choose what and how many layers I would wear on my commute.

First would be my short-sleeved MS jersey, followed by two long-sleeved, wicking bike shirts, my Mountain Equipment Co-op stretchy riding pants covered with an old pair of track pants.  I'd wear my big winter boots on my feet and for my hands, I had the bright idea of wearing tough disposable mechanic gloves, my full-fingered biking gloves covered with an over-sized pair of mittens.

Having decided what to wear, I was committed.  It wasn't until I'd had breakfast and was heading out the door that I discovered that it had snowed during the night.  I've gotten out of the habit of looking out the front door window to check on the day outside because of the Christmas wreath blocking the view.  Riding in fresh snow is very much like riding in sand but I thought I could slug my way through.  I was very proud of the job I had just done on studding my tires and wanted to give them the big test.

I hadn't gone 2 blocks before I discovered that I was in the wrong gear and maybe that would account for my high heartrate.  My first stop was 5 blocks from home at a bus stop to take off my mittens to be able to lift up my neck tube to cover my cheeks, nose and mouth to mitigate the wintery breeze that I hadn't noticed on leaving the driveway.

By the time I had gone 5 kilometers, I was beginning to have doubts. The bike path I usually take was strewn with snow from the nearby street being plowed overnight and that made the going even tougher. When I made another kilometer and a half, I left my bike on the front lawn of an apartment building and went inside the vestibule to try to warm my fingers and toes. There was a feeble trickle of heat coming from the register and it took quite some time to regain feeling in my extremities.

I felt recovered enough to plod my way to a ravine near the museum where because of the numbness in my hands, I couldn't operate my brake levers anymore so decided to ditch the bike in the ravine, catch a bus to work and retrieve the bike later. Using numb fingers, I managed to turn off the blinking lights on the bike and 5 minutes later when a bus showed up, I threw a loonie and a toonie that I had somehow managed to fumble out of my knapsack into the fare collection box. Lurching to the back of the bus I had to contend with curious looks from the other passengers and it wasn't until the bus had made it most of the way downtown that I managed to unbuckle my helmet and taking it off, I discovered that the two blinking lights on the helmet were still flashing and sending their blinding light into the retinas of the early morning passengers!

This is why I daydream about my fair weather cycling adventures.


  1. Great stories I always enjoy your blog I was just wondering about studding your tires how well it worked 4 you and are they doing a good job 4 you Thanks for everything Your friend always water filtration Don

  2. Hey Friend Don (and faithful reader): I used 5/8" #8 sheet metal screws to do the studding and used up nearly a whole box of 100 for the two tires. Some cyclists swear by one studded tire but I figured two couldn't hurt. I did grind them down a tad to remove each pointed end and even then, I find my clothing catching on them occasionally. They work really well though!