It's cold out there kids. And windy. Serious cold and driving wind the likes of which have driven many a frontiersman to pick up an ax and begin whittling away at the family with a glassy-eyed zeal that just screams "C-R-A-Z-Y".
It takes about 10 minutes for me to put on all of the extra stuff that is keeping me alive on these brisk morning commutes. From the normal clothing base (pants, long underwear, wool socks, undershirt, shirt, sweater) a fleece lined balaclava goes on, followed by a fleece jacket, alpaca scarf, windproof jacket, a toque, double gloves, helmet and glasses. I feel like that kid in "A Christmas Story" who falls down and can't get up he's so bundled up. And despite all of that clothing, it's still a cold ride.
This morning I'm waiting at Smith's Crossroads for the light to change, wondering why my thumbs are burning while my normally wussy pinkies and ring fingers seem to be just fine, when I feel two hands grasp my shoulders. Now sudden embraces from strangers are not normal when waiting in traffic, even when exposed on a bicycle, so this was a bit unexpected. As in "WTF?" I turned and there was Sandman. "I just wanted to say 'Hi'". Awesome. A nice change of pace from the slow freezing to death punctuated by furious pedaling that I am otherwise mindlessly pursuing every morning lately.
The light turned green, we took off and I hammered up the hill into a headwind. A car passed me, honking that long, frustrated honk that I assume is meant to make me realize that I am riding a bike where cars belong. I wave back - with all five fingers, thank you very much, trying to feign friendliness while repeating my favorite line of Jayne's from Serenity - "You are starting to damage my calm..."
I wheel into the school, safe and sound. The disbelieving looks of my colleagues are largely unnoticed now as I strip off layers and try to make my hands work well enough to sign in. The best thing is the flush of heat that you feel once you are inside. Open up the thermos of hot tea, and BOOM! you're good as new and ready for the work day. I don't know what I'd do without it.
Got aspirations of doing some winter bike commuting? Figure it is time to go from mildy eccentric to downright weird? Well, we've got some gear to help you out. We just got some balaclavas to help extend your riding from merely chilly to bone-crunching cold. And I'm taking it up a notch with the addition of some Bar Mitts because I'm fond of having all ten of my fingers.