With a long, cold, train-filled week behind me, I was back on my bike going to work this morning. The temperature was 10 degrees, but the sun was shining brightly and the sky was bright blue. Other than my fingers (which are always cold) I was pretty warm. I think I heard someone say, “Now she’s hardcore” when I rode past him, but that could have been my ears playing tricks on me. ;) What does one wear when cycling for an hour in 10 degree temps? Nothing super special. Wool leggings with flannel-lined khakis on top; thin wool shirt topped with thick wool cowl neck sweater topped with thin windbreaker (which I removed during the ride since I got too hot); two pairs of wool socks; indestructible black leather ankle boots that I bought in Russia seven years ago; gloves; helmet with built in ear muffs; super dorky safety glasses (’cause otherwise my eyes would water like crazy from the cold air). Okay, that sounds like a lot. No wonder my loads of laundry are so much bigger in the winter.
The Lakefront Trail was in pretty good condition, plowed most of the way by the Parks Department. The ramps are terrible, though, completely neglected and I had to schlep my heavy bike up and down a few of these. One part of the trail is in such bad condition that I’m forced to get off and take a round-about way through the city streets before returning to the trail. I don’t think I saw one other cylist this morning, which is odd. Maybe because of the holiday.
I took the city streets for my ride home, stopping by the store to buy some more fantastic Smart Wool knee socks that I can wear with my boots (notice a wool theme with me?), and by another store to load up on Guinness. When I take city streets instead of the Lakefront Trail, I ride the whole way on pretty busy streets (two lane, but with faster traffic than most city streets). There are bike lanes, but not enough to make it totally pleasant, especially when “bike lane” is just a fancy name for “door zone.” Unfortunately, I can’t take small side street all the way downtown because side streets have a tendency to suddenly end after a mile or so.
I bailed and turned onto a side street earlier than usual tonight. I’m glad I did, because it was nice to cruise down the dark and quiet street without traffic swooshing by. With all of the snow pile up, I have to take the lane (the entire one-way street) and cars can’t pass me. I pull over at stop signs to waive drivers by and until I do, they’re very good at patiently driving behind me.
Tomorrow is Chicago’s Winter Bike to Work day, so I hope to see a lot more cyclists out there!