Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Biking in the New Year

The new year started out with a gift from the weatherman.  Temperatures on New Years Day hit 60 degrees F in Washington. I celebrated by taking an easy 30 mile ride in shorts.

New Years Day Attire
Fast forward to my first bike commute, today, and things were a little different.  When I rolled down the driveway the temperature was 18 degrees F. And I do mean F.  I was prepared to do battle with Jack Frost.  I wore an absurd amount of clothing which turned out to be nearly enough.  Dressing for this kind of weather is guesswork so I was pretty pleased with my choices. It was nice that I got to wear my new balaclava and my new lobster gloves.  Both performed admirably. 

First Commute Attire
My commute is 14 1/2 miles and, except for the first mile, I was comfortable the entire way.  That first mile was, how can I put this, BRISK!  I warmed up pretty quickly except for the tips of my fingers and the exposed area around my eyes.  Once the sun rose a bit, temperatures broke through the 20 degree barrier and I was ready to drink a mint julep.  Of course, all I had was the water I had in my two water bottles. The water was warm when I filled them but by three miles it was icy cold. About 12 miles into the ride, I came upon ice on the Mount Vernon Trail just south of the Memorial Bridge. I veered onto the grass which was also frozen and so I came to a crunchy stop.

To this point I had been passed by only three riders.  As I approached the Rosslyn connector that carries to trail from the riverside to the southern end of the Key Bridge, I was surprised to see bike after bike come zipping down the hill.

While waiting for a traffic light in Rosslyn, I went to take a drink from my water bottles. Nothing doing. They were both frozen solid.  I, however, was not. Or so I thought. When I took a shower in the fitness center at work, I found my toes, fingertips, upper legs, lap area, and parts of my torso were beat red.  The hot water stung.  If I had to do it over, I'd have added one pair of shorts to my ensemble.

On the ride home, temperatures were near freezing. It felt positively spring-like.  I stupidly decided to ride through the icy patch on the trail. My back wheel slid right and then left. I made it but I won't try that again any time soon. 

In Old Town Alexandra I stopped to celebrate a milestone. The odometer on Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist,  turned 7,000 miles.  Well done, Nellie. 

7 Grand for Little Nellie

And so the first bike commute of 2012 is in the books.  Spring will be here before you know it.


  1. Ack! That was a close call with your rear wheel sliding around on the ice!! Whew! Congrats to Little Nellie on 7,000 miles! :) :)

  2. Speaking of impressive, I would say that nearly 15 miles in this weather is awesome! What kind of tires/wheels do you have? Mine are supposed to be "all weather" but they seemed rather slidey...

  3. Rachel, I don't commute every day, but mostly because of family considerations. My Bike Friday has a Primo Comet on the back. This tire is designed with very little tread which probably explains the skid. The front wheel is a Schwalbe Marathon that has a few thousand miles on it. Even so, it has more tread left than the Comet started with.