You wake up in the morning, smear some Nutella on a donut and wash it down with some almond milk. (Don't judge me.) The cats are fed, it's still dark out, your balaclava and mittens are on the radiator from last night's 9 deg. ride. You check the weather before getting your winter warrior armor on...
Holy mackerel! -9, with 15 mph winds, -33 deg. windchill?
Before I tell you about my unusual morning commute, I want to start by saying that I am not a bad ass. I am a normal person that sometimes does bad ass things. And you can too!
I suited up for the weather, intending on riding 3 miles downtown, catching the express bus into St. Paul, and then riding a few blocks to my building. This is how I get to work on really cold days.
If you are curious, I was wearing...
- Helmet, fleece headband, wool cap with a bill
- Piece of wool tied around my face (cut out of a sweater), fleece necktube thing
- Thin wool liner gloves, heavy leather chopper mittens
- Two light wool base layers, heavy snowboarding jacket
- Fleece Terry cycling tights, rain pants
- Very thin wool liner socks, heavy wool socks, serious winter boots
- I also smear on a heavy face cream on to help protect my skin from getting chapped by the wind!
I was perfectly dressed for the short ride to my bus stop, for waiting around for 5-10 minutes, then hopping on a bus while stripping layers, venting, etc., and then zipping myself back up for the short roll to the office.
HOWEVER, fate did not want me to ride the bus today. After a few buses passed me by because the racks were frozen*, I got fed up with waiting and my fingers were starting to get cold. So I biked to work.
My fingers warmed up while I rode. I had one too many layers on my head, I had to pull open my jacket zip a little because my neck was too hot, and my hands got a little sweaty. The only part of me that got chilly was my rear end, and my toes got pretty cold in the last few miles. Overall, a success!
Riding to work in the cold is something lots of people do, all winter long. Why was this ride any different? TELL US WHY WE SHOULD CARE, LOW!
This occasion is momentous and post-worthy because this is the first time I've ridden my entire commute in this kind of weather! Yay for me! If you had suggested I do my commute in -33 deg. windchill I would have laughed in your face had I not just accomplished it, powered by donuts and Nutella.
This post is a reminder that YOU CAN DO IT. You are an ordinary person capable of super bad ass things! And this is also a reminder to celebrate your achievements. Maybe you're not ready to bike through the winter, that's okay. Celebrate the coldest day you've ridden, the time you rode into that gnarly headwind, or made it all the way up Marshall hill without feeling like you were going to vomit, because there are always going to be people that bike farther, faster and in colder weather than you. So celebrate those personal victories!
*I'm not breaking up with public transportation, we just had a rough day. I have been meaning to contact MetroTransit about the bus rack problem though. They wash the buses off in the morning, the water freezes in the mechanism, and no amount of hand strength or banging on the damn thing with your U-lock will get it unstuck. Surely there must be a better way. It is policy that bus drivers are allowed to let you on the bus, with your bike, at their discretion. I try not to bully them if they say no. If I get attitude I take down their driver number and call MetroTransit. Their customer service department is excellent, in my experience.