Definitely a Reason

cute and practical

Polar Bears: cute and practical

I was ready to ride my bike today.  I layed out all of my layers of clothes last night, down to the three pairs of wool socks.  I got out of bed bright and early.  My bag was packed.  Then I turned on the morning news and saw that the temperature is -17 fahrenheit.  That is the actual, real temperature outside of my door, not with windchill.  Here’s the forecast from the Chicago Tribune:

“A National Weather Service windchill warning for most of the Chicago region remains in effect until noon today as the city and suburbs are coping with some of the bitterest cold in almost 13 years.


Windchills of 25 to 45 below are on tap for this morning, with the western suburbs suffering the coldest temperatures.

As of 3:52 a.m. today the mercury was 23 degrees below zero, with windchills of minus 41, in Aurora. The temperature was 22 below, with a minus 38 windchill, in West Chicago.  Chicago: A temperature of minus 16 and a windchill of minus 31 at O’Hare International Airport.

The weather service said west winds at about 10 m.p.h. are combining with frigid temperatures to create windchills of 25 to 45 below zero this morning.  The combination of wind and cold air may cause frostbite and lead to hypothermia or death if precautions aren’t taken.  The forecast for today is slightly more promising: Temperatures and windchills will slowly moderate after sun-up and rise out of warning criteria by noon. ” 

I simply don’t have the special clothing to ride a bike in this weather for 45 minutes and frostbite is no joke.  I am not a mountain climber or a polar bear.  Darn. 

  • Dave G.

    My thermometer at home said -23F and a bank thermometer close to work said -32F. I rode my bike today. Fortunately I only have a 3 mile commute, but I discovered my rear cassette/hub couldn’t handle the low temps. At about the 2 mile mark if I tried to coast at all it would not re-engage and would just free-wheel. Spinning the crank 6-8 revolutions would get it to re-engage. My old cables and shifters also froze up. I was wishing I had a bare-bones fixed gear bike w/ disc brakes. You probably made a wise choice in not spending 45 minutes in the brutal cold. I was ok because I was only out in it for 15-20 minutes.

    —Dave in NE Iowa

  • editrish

    Dot, if you were a polar bear we probably wouldn’t be friends. ;)

    Dave, I’m impressed by your commute. I have a short one of 2.5 miles myself and toyed with trying it today (it was the coldest day in 10 years, but it was still above zero at 4 degrees, with a wind chill of -2). But I was kind of worried about the gears on my old Schwinn taking that kind of abuse. Also, my hands get so cold when it’s below 30. Anyone have some advice for gloves?

  • http://www.bikeskirt.blogspot.com Elisa

    good call. I didn’t ride this morning b/c I lost my good glove (yes, just one!) and only have knit gloves. At 0 degrees, that is not a wise choice for a 25 minute ride. I too, was ready and packed up for a chilly commute…but not that chilly. Next week is supposed to warm up, so we will be road warriors!

  • http://www.bikeskirt.blogspot.com Elisa

    Meant to tell you Trish, that the gloves I use(d) are Pearl Izumi Gavia gloves. I ride when it is 30 degrees in these and they are fine. If it is colder, I simply put on a pair of $1 knit gloves on underneath. they are really great and I would highly recommend them. http://www.pearlizumi.com/product.php?mode=view&product_id=527535

  • Dave G.

    Edittrish, I use thinsolate lined leather work gloves and pedal in a slightly higher gear so I my body works a little harder and that seems to get the blood flowing to my extremities. Have you tried mittens? When it’s really cold like today I also sometimes ride with my thumbs above the grips on my mountain bike to keep them warmer. Loosening my grip helps too.

    –Dave
    p.s. My old Schwinn did ok up until today. I felt kinda sorry for the abuse it received this morning.

  • xiousgeonz

    I rode in yesterday at 11 below because I found my missing glove the day befoer ( on the ground beside the bike, which I tossed on the bus bike rack and bussed home b/c there was too much snow on the ground for my liking and I hadn’t done the bus thing from work before).
    I wore more of the same clothes I have… but I dunno if I’d have done -17. Now I might, since I’ve done -11, and even my hands and feet got warm, but I’m asking it NOT TO GO THERE.

    • editrish

      Thanks, Dave and Elisa — I’ll check out the glove recs. I have been using cashmere-lined leather gloves but when it’s gets below a certain temp they don’t cut it. Next week I am going to try out a friend’s Dahon, which should make for some interesting posts! The weather looks clear and not painfully cold so I might try for a five-day commute.

  • Jennie

    I have no advice on the gloves Trish. This season I have been sporting my JCrew Mittens. Not very high tech – but they are warm (today in Alabama – 11 degrees!) and cute.
    I was on craigslist today looking for a bike! My Auburn bike is in a million pieces. You have inspired me! Maybe this weekend you can help me find a safe route to work!?!?! Be Safe Road Warrior!

  • editrish

    That’s awesome Jen! I’m bike shopping myself so maybe we can hit up some shops in the ‘ham. :) Surely there’s a safe route to work for you?

  • http://www.ShawsheenUsedBicycles.com Shawsheen

    In such cold weather I would look towards snowmobile clothing as in jumpsuits, boots, gloves etc.

    Ride safe!

  • http://profiles.google.com/alottes Ash L

    It’s so fun to catch up on these old posts. I was in Chicago on this day two years ago to apartment hunt. I only had the el and my feet to rely on. I didn’t know enough about the city to be comfortable with the bus so I walked 10s of miles from appointment to appointment. I guess I didn’t know much about winter then either because I was out in the elements all day long with a cheap pair of cotton gloves and a pair of chuck taylors.

  • http://profiles.google.com/alottes Ash L

    It’s so fun to catch up on these old posts. I was in Chicago on this day two years ago to apartment hunt. I only had the el and my feet to rely on. I didn’t know enough about the city to be comfortable with the bus so I walked 10s of miles from appointment to appointment. I guess I didn’t know much about winter then either because I was out in the elements all day long with a cheap pair of cotton gloves and a pair of chuck taylors.