Thursday, January 31, 2019

Vortex Schmortex

So the "polar vortex" has rolled into town, which meant it was pretty cold this morning:


That's America Freedom Degrees too, not that sell-see-us crap.

Now, before I go on, I realize that to you hardy types in the midwest this isn't even particularly cold:


("I don't even bother with knee warmers when it's that warm.")

But please try to keep in mind that everything's relative, and anyway, it's not a weather contest, okay?

Good.

Anyway, I have nothing to prove at this point in my life, and if I don't like the looks of things outside I have no problem skipping a ride.  However, despite today's deep freeze, I found myself compelled to head out, and so I saddled up the Jones:


By the time I rolled out it had warmed up a bit, but it was still only like 10 degrees.  To be honest I figured I'd just knock around for a little while and come back, but despite the cold I felt not only comfortable but uncharacteristically spunky, and my little ride turned into a surprisingly pleasant 20-mile ramble that included a visit to the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall:


Of course, keeping among the trees and never really breaking 8mph helps a lot, but I also owe a debt of gratitude to my expertly curated crazy person wardrobe, and from head to toe I was attired thusly:



  • My usual Sidi mountain bike shoes;
  • A pair of non-cycling-specific argyle socks, similar to these:


  • One of these wool shirts that Grant Petersen sent me;
(It looks like they're out of stock at the moment but do yourself a favor and buy one if they get more because they're like the best winter cycling garment ever.)

  • A cashmere Helmut Lang sweater (yeah, you read that right) I've had for at least 20 years;
  • A jacket Giro sent me back in like 2013.  It was from their "New Road" collection, which as far as I can tell no longer exists.  The idea was road bike clothes that didn't look like road bike clothes, or something.  Like this:

Foolishly thinking I was still relevant, when it debuted Giro set me up with like a whole bunch of the stuff.  Some of it was kind of stupid (bib knickers with a visible fly that you wear under shorts), and I also seem to recall that all of it was for men, because back in 2013 cycling companies still hadn't figured out that women ride bikes.  There were some very nice items though, one of which was the jacket, which I still wear all the time--which means absolutely nothing since I don't think you can buy it anymore.  The end.
  • Threadbare Pearl Izumi lobster gloves I've had forever and which I keep expecting won't last another season, but then they do.  It's like the miracle of Hanukkah, but lobster gloves instead of lamp oil;
  • A Cannondale balaclava I've had for probably 20 years and never wore until today.  For whatever reason I don't really have a problem with my face getting cold, probably because I'm usually a little flushed from anger and/or embarrassment, and therefore I never wear baclavas or neck gaiters or any of that face-warming stuff.  Today however it seemed prudent, and maybe that's why I felt so much warmer than usual.  Balaclavas keep you warm, who knew?
  • A Castelli fleece hat I've had for probably 20 years and which is probably my favorite cycling garment I've ever owned ever.  I've never seen one anywhere else and I'm sure they don't exist anymore.  When something happens to it I'll be sad;
  • NO HELMET.  Like I'm gonna strap a foam hat to all the crap I've already got on my head?  Please.

Did you need to know any of this?  No.  Do you care?  Almost certainly not.  Am I telling you anyway?  Yes I am, because now that I've come full circle on the FRED cycle I know that once it gets seriously cold you've got to abandon the concept of cycling clothes and non-cycling clothes and just freestyle it by creating a completely insane and profoundly unflattering ensemble like the one I just described.  And yes--the outfit looks as silly as it sounds, plus you've got to imagine it on top of the Jones for the full effect.  But the most absurd thing about it is that if you added up the retail price of every single item I was probably wearing something like $3,500 worth of clothes.

You could get a pretty nice bike for that...but then you wouldn't be able to ride it when it's cold, because you'd be naked.



48 comments:

youngstan said...

My favorite cycling garment is also a hat, one that I got while selling programs at the 1986 World Cycling Championships. I wore it today too, atop a balaclava. I often think of how sad I'll be when it disappears forever. I'm so materialistic.

Billy said...

Good on you for riding.

I took the bus today. Added a wool neck gaiter to my usual wool hat, scarf, peacoat, and gloves ensemble, with the usual dress pants and 1986 community theater sweatshirt underneath.

Willie Voltaire said...

Big fan of Smartwool base layers, including their neck gaiter. Never knew I needed one until I tried it. Winter riding is awesome if you're dressed for it!

1904 Cadardi said...

"but then you wouldn't be able to ride it OUTSIDE when it's cold, because you'd be naked." FTFY

Anonymous said...

If you enjoy Minnesota Humblebragging here's a whole article full of it: https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/01/winter-bicyclists-polar-vortex-warm-safe-what-to-wear/581692/

It includes such gems as: “I tell people this—the real problem with winter biking is staying cool.”

...and: "It’s not been uncommon to get to an empty office while my coworkers are 45 minutes late, because the roads are bad."

Full disclosure: I live in central Wisconsin and my freehub was threatening to get stuck in a disengaged position this morning during my -27 F ride. But don't worry, I had some zip ties in the pack for an emergency fixed-gear conversion (just zip tie the cassette to the spokes). I guess I need to up my freehub lubrication game.

pbateman goes real f'in fast when you mom flashes the cat signal said...

its like 67 and a little rainy here today in florida. not riding because its kind of chilly.

Was nearly killed by a motorist, but not on a bike. This fellow was NOT impressed by the woo-hoo speed I was doing in my old benz (its actually a lot like new bikes in that its motor assisted... by five point fuckin' zero liters of bitchin')

He was threatening plenty of violence to my bodily person and seemed to have noticed I was dressed like a business guy doing business things type douche and kept screaming:

"i hope you have something real fucking important you are going to"

had i not been in actual fear for my life i was so wanting to respond with:

i'm on the way to your wife's house because she wants another baby.

i drove away and was thankful i was not on the news for florida man report.

HDEB said...

Swobo wool jerseys from the 1990's are fantastic. Balaclavas will come in handy if SHTF when paired with respirators, water treatement, sleeping bags, bicycles and outdoor skillz -- or they also keep your face warm : )

Anonymous said...

good point about a freehub not being free under those temperatures, especially when the problem is intermittent.

Thousandthfastest said...

Although be careful if you over-lube it, it won’t engage properly and you’ll stand on your pedals to go up a hill only to experience to dismayingly contraceptive sensation of your testicles striking your top tube.

Life is too short not to learn from other people’s mistakes. https://thousandthfastest.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/if-its-not-broken-dont-fix-it-vs-preventative-maintenance-a-cautionary-tale-of-whiskey-and-youtube-instructional-videos/

Grump said...

Looks like you missed our 1980's style weather.

Anonymous said...

I was going to post a link to the right-on-cue Minnesota humblebrag article, but someone beat me to it. You've trained us well.

Anonymous said...

Who's Amy?

bad boy of the south said...

Glad that y'all headed out today in those crazy temps.
After wearing your balaclava you can eat some baklava as a testament to your fortitude.
Cheers.

NYCHighwheeler said...

"Amy I telling you anyway?"

You are telling me, and don't call me Amy!

RIP Leslie Nielsen

Back in the day the Russians had an edge over the Germans because they knew to mix a little gasoline with their gun oil. This way, their guns would not freeze up when it got bitch-ass cold. Maybe try that when lubing your freehub? It helped the Red Army beat the Fascists back then, it could help you beat the fascists now!

As for best clothing award sanctioned by Bike Snob Power and Associates, the award goes to the Schampa fleece neck gator I picked up at the NYC Motorcycle Trade show back in like 2002 or something. It was just a simple piece of fleece, but now they look a little more fancy:
https://schampa.com/collections/supersoft-neckgaiter

NYCHighwheeler and trailwerks said...

Also, how were the trails at Sprain?

It looks like the good folks at WMBA (Westchester Mountain Bike Association) [No connection with Bike Snob Power and Associates] are looking to use Trailforks software to keep a tab on trail conditions and aid in planning work days and such. Here is the link to the Sprain Trails:
https://www.trailforks.com/region/sprain-ridge-park/

It looks like there is a plan to do some trail work and even reroutes in the section east of the pool complex and that short step hill right next to the pool in particular. Also, the very northern-most tip of the park and the area around "coyote rock" might see some changes. Special thanks to the good people at Endless Trail Bikes for being involved in this effort, and all the other volunteers for their great work throughout the park.

I'll try to keep you posted, but check in with the WMBA (wmba.org and on faceschnook) if anyone wants to get involved with trailwork at Sprain or any other Westchester park!

Anonymous said...

If you happen to bi-icicle over to the local ski hill, those Lobsters also do well as ski gloves on mild days.

Hooray for Heatstroke said...

Living in places that get that cold is pure insanity, but at least you can wear your $3,500 (A$5,000) ensemble and ride without dying.

Here in Sydney (where it's already tomorrow) it was 40 Advanced Nations degrees yesterday. There's nothing you can do to make a ride at those temperatures bearable.

Maybe we're all equally insane?

Hey, high-five, bro!

Anonymous said...

"you've got to imagine it on top of the Jones for the full effect"
Why imagine it when you could have taken a selfie.

Chazu said...

I hope a Google Street View car passed you in your neighborhood during today's ride.

Some guy from upstate said...

I find 10 degrees to be the line below which it becomes difficult to ride your bike while wearing enough to stay warm. My main problem right now is the part of the road I want to use is covered with snowplow tailings. On the other hand, we finally have snow for some Nordic skiing.

bad boy of the south said...

Hooray@739p,that sure is hot.

jellyfishsalad71 said...

pity you dont have a photo of your ride outfit. sounds hilarious.

Drock said...

Cold riding it’s for me. All the extra layers keep my brittle bones from braking when I go down

Beck the biker said...

Dissaffectly sporting an accumulation of $3,500 of urban anti-kit kit is exemplary tres louche transcendence into the fifth stage of cycling bliss. You're rolling into rarefied territory of the path on the long road to the interior. But, what's with that NYC 'winter'? Jeesh, could have taken in a little sun down at Seagate. You know who knew balaclavas keep you warmer? Those Minnesotans, another disaffected group of cycling rogues who aren't going to let cold temperatures and sartorial convention get in the way of having fun on a bike. Screw the fashion police, they can't identify you if you're wearing a balaclava.

Haywood Jablome said...

It's February already. Where did januJan go?

Anonymous said...

I like reading stuff that makes me feel better about having bought a bike trainer. Yesterday I cycled inside with bib shorts pulled down to my butt crack. Awful, but not as scary as your sartorial frankenstein tale.

George Krpan said...

I commute to work every day. The worst mistake is wearing cycling clothes, you will freeze. I wear ordinary clothes. I like a jacket with a hood. Roll back the brim of the hood a little for vision, better than a hat.

Fredder said...

"I don't really have a problem with my face getting cold, probably because I'm usually a little flushed from anger and/or embarrassment"

Priceless.

Fredder said...

My hands are my weak link in the winter. When it is 15-25 degrees, even with inner electric gloves and lobsters on top I am limited to around an hour of riding, but that get's me to work, plus a little extra. If it is below 20, or above 90, I allow myself to wait to another day.

Schisthead said...

Your cursed streak must be over, Riv is sold out of what they gave you.

Dooth said...

I have a Castelli fleece hat. And for, like, the past twenty years too..it's got those black and red racing stripes with the Scorpion. It only looks and feels good when cycling in freezing temperatures. I hope it's not the same color. When we couldn't be seen together on a ride.

Anonymous said...

Hooray, you said "Here in Sydney (where it's already tomorrow) it was 40 Advanced Nations degrees yesterday. There's nothing you can do to make a ride at those temperatures bearable."

Here in the Center of Enlightenment that is Dallas, TX, USA, we carry lots of insulated icy water bottles and dump on ourselves as necessary. Long sleeves or arm covering material (not warmers) is actually a bonus because it holds water and then cools as the water evaporates, which it does quickly because you make your own breeze as you ride.

That said, when it hits 41C, above 104F, I'm out! Not enough water bottles for that, or I need more mounts for bottles on my bike...

dcee604 said...

Photo, or it never happened!

pbateman is gonna rub it in that florida is nice this time of year said...

gonna take the MB-3 for a ride today. think i'm gonna wear a button down shirt and some jeans.

i think i'm NOT going to wear my leather soled dress shoes again (no socks) though 'cause last time i did this i slipped off the peddale and the inside of my ankle got a nice bashing by the big ring.

did you know that being bashed in general is crummy, but being bashed by f'in chainrings is like the f'in Microshift of bashings. F'IN HURTS BRO.

Also...your mom.

dancesonpedals said...

It's great that you can ride in 10 degree weather, even better to have a comfortable kit.

As much fun as it is to ride, changing a tire would be too painful to attempt.

I'd call my wife for a pickup if I flatted more than a mile from home.

dancesonpedals said...

pbateman:

My secretary is on a 5 day break in sunny san juan.

I'm enjoying the 80 degree weather vicariously.

1904 Cadardi said...

41C? I lived in Phoenix for a year and raced a criterium when it was 108F (the F stands for too F'ing HOT!!) which is 42C (C as in Christ it's hot!)

The best riding was at night when the temps dropped below 100F and the golf courses started watering the greens.

Now I'm a 50-90 kind of guy, which is to say "woosie".

Hooray for Heatstroke said...

Anon 12:30,

If Dallas were truly the "Center of Enlightenment", you'd be spelling it "centre".

As for dousing yourself with icy cold water, you really ought to be targeting your scranus and/or vulvanus.

I don't know if it'll reduce your core temperature, but it certainly does something. Especially if you apply it outside a school or police station.

Nathan Johnson said...

There’s low temp lube now for bikes. I bought some in the high county when my drivetrain started howling like a monkey.
To stay warm riding or skiing, I wear a Gore Windstopper long sleeve undershirt and a sweater; jacket if it’s snowing. It’s comfortable down to 0F.
I read a book called The God of Skiing by Peter Kray. There’s a description of a skier walking around with snowballs in his bare fists, I guess to toughen up. So . . .

JLRB said...

I agree with the humble bumble brag article - the toughest thing about winter riding is overheating. I hate overdressing/overheating then getting all cold and clammy

blunchbelly said...

When it is that cold add a 1 buck more to the $3500 outfit for toe warmers.

babble on said...

American freedom?! Don't kid yourself. You guys kissed that goodbye two years ago. It's all about American Treason now.

Hee Haw the barista's burger flinging roommate said...

Do you want treason fries with that whopper?

Velik rider said...

It would help you to beat fascist now, because fascist now are members of Antifa, and they use baseball bats instead of guns.

Anonymous said...

I got your polar vortex right here (grabs crotchal area).

In all seriousness whoever mentioned the Russians above, yes, they are the people you definitely need to pick up cold-weather tips from. Or rather the people from whom the tips whomsofore to pick up with from, are they.

Example: If you've got a problem with cock-a-roachess (sic), and it's so butt-ass cold you think you're in downtown Gdirchyasnyedorsk, just turn off the heat, get your parka on, and open all the doors & windows for a couple hours. All your cock-a-roachess will essplode.

Hey babbles, long time no see. You can bet 6 pairs of Trudeau's sox that most of us are just waiting it out.

Anonymous said...

Babble we are still free no matter what asshat we elect

Makeout said...

Won your bike eons ago. Bought a Softride today. To be continued...

babble on said...

Sure you are. That's why Atlanta's Savage has to go home to the UK because he was a baaaad boy way back in 2014.

Naw, unless you're an American Plutocrat, you're a slave to them, and dammit, you've enslaved much of the rest of us along with you.

I'm with the rest of the world, sitting here in absolute astonishment. What the fuck is up with your so-called system of checks and balances?? Is it just another fairy tale, like American Freedom? Why is it nobody (cept maybe the gal he calls Nancy, who seems to know what's up) has the balls to throw that crook in chief behind bars where he belongs???