After whining about winter on Monday, I left my bike at home and took the L train to work two days in a row. That sounds ridiculous in hindsight – two days in a row – but I really needed a short break from winter biking. The trick to enjoying life on two wheels is not to make bicycling feel like an obligation. As such, on the rare occasions when I feel burned out, I back off. By this morning, I was champing at the bit to get back in the saddle (uh, too many mixed horse metaphors?).
Sure, the temperature was the lowest of the year at -6F with -25 wind chills, but after conquering arctic air three weeks ago, I’m no longer intimidated.
Seriously, I simply threw on an extra layer of wool, wrapped a scarf around my face, tucked warming packs in my boots and mittens, and the ride was perfectly fine. Full outfit: tweed skirt, wool leggings, blouse, wool sweater, puffy down vest, wool socks, snow boots, hat, scarf, mittens, sunglasses. The biggest difference between today and any other Chicago winter day is that my sinuses got really dry.
The feeling of being back on my bike was exhilarating. I felt like myself again. You know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder? That is certainly the case with me and my bikes, especially when the alternative is a slow and crowded L train (though that’s still way better than driving).
One weird thing about the ride was that my bike felt exaggeratedly slow and heavy, the pedaling like churning rich butter. By the time I arrived at work, my body was more fatigued than usual. Talking with Mr. Dottie later, I learned that he had the same experience this morning on his vintage Raleigh.
Does anyone know what would cause this? I have a few different theories: the arctic wind (doubtful because I’ve experienced stronger – but not as cold – Chicago wind without the same affect); the extreme cold did something weird with our bodies; the extreme cold did something weird with our cranks/gear hubs. Thoughts?