Posted by shana on Mar 4, 2009 in biking

I know exactly how to dress for a bike ride when it’s 22 degrees out: 


Yep, those are the heated pants.  Flattering, hey?  And snow boots, and my super fancy polartec hoodie from Patagonia, and my biking gloves, and a wind breaker.  Perfect.  On a 22 degree day, even with a bit of a breeze, when I’m dressed like this I hardly notice it’s winter.  For real.  If it’s a little warmer, I skip the heated pants and wear jeans with long johns underneath, and I don’t zip my windbreaker up all the way.  If it’s a little cooler, I double up the gloves and the socks and crank the heated pants up to high.  

But ’tis the one problem with warming temps (which I really, really am happy about otherwise, but): Between my two jobs today I’ve got 20 miles to cover, and it’s 42 degrees out.  That’s significantly warmer than 22.  I don’t have a clue what I should wear!  

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You thought Chicago was cold and snowy

Posted by shana on Mar 3, 2009 in Monday Product Endorsement, biking

Yesterday was the first of March.  March is the month of the year where the light part of the day finally gets longer than the dark part of the day.  March is the month where crocuses start popping up through the ground, because March is the month where things melt.  Finally.

Nevertheless, March was in like a… well, like a snowstorm in December.  And I was out on my bike, of course, opening at the cafe and watching the sun rise through the gusting, blowing snow.  



Which brings me to my Monday Endorsement: Up In Alaska: Jill’s Sub-Arctic Journal.  Again, it’s not a product, but a blog, and a really super awesome blog at that.  About a year ago, I happened to stumble across this blog, where a writer/extreme winter mountain biker named Jill was recounting her recent success on the Iditarod.  That’s right, the 1100 mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome, recently featured in a rock-star documentary by the Discovery Channel (which I also endorse, but only indirectly in this post).    But get this: if running a team of 16 dogs through interior Alaska isn’t crazy enough, there are people, like Jill, who bike it.  And people, like her boyfriend Geoff, who run it.  And others (whose blogs I don’t read) who ski it.  There’s a finish line 350 miles along in McGrath, where most people call it a day (or five or seven days, more likely), and then there’s the finish line in Nome, yep, 1100 miles up the road, and every year a couple people bike, ski, or run all the way there.  They call it the Alaska Ultra Sport.

Ever since reading her riveting account of her 2008 Iditarod run, I’ve been both anxiously awaiting the next Iditarod and also reading her blog every single day.  She lives and trains in Juneau, where she bikes year round, even in the winter, particularly in the winter.  She sometimes logs over a thousand training miles in a month!  Yikes!  And I thought the seven miles to my tutoring job got kinda long… most of all she takes breathtakingly stunning pictures and posts them almost every day: 

mountains over Juneau, courtesy of Jill

exhibit A, courtesy of Jill's blog


The Alaska Ultra Sport finally kicked off yesterday, with much fanfare and about 8 inches of fresh powder, as I understand from the updates I’ve been reading eagerly, which is actually really not helpful when you’re on a bike.   

If you, like me, think this is pretty much the coolest possible sport ever, way cooler than pro football and stuff, and you’d like to follow along with me and with all the other extreme winter mountain biking fans out there, you can check out their “latest news” page.  

Very sadly, upon checking the latest news this evening, I learned that Jill, my winter biking hero and inspiration in the worlds of both cold weather bike rides and of blogging, stepped in some overflow water on the first night, got frostbite in her toes, and had to scratch out of the race.  Ah!  All the biking bloggers seem to agree that living to bike another day is smarter than pressing on because you’ve worked so hard to get there… but wow, what a bummer.   I’ll continue to read her blog every day though, and her boyfriend Geoff’s blog (he’s an ultra marathon multi-champ, wow!)  and I’ll continue riding through the cold, snowy, windy streets of Chicago on my own bike, but with a renewed thankfulness for the lack of open water for me to have to cross without the aid of a bridge.  


Interestingly, and tangentially relatedly, one of the checkpoints along the trail, which seems to be exactly only that and nothing more, is Rohn.  Yep, our cat was named after a checkpoint on the Iditarod trail (or more accurately, he was named after a kid who was named after the checkpoint on the Iditarod trail).  Furtherly interestingly, Mac has just suggested that we move “Rohn” to his middle name and make his first name “Pepper” (very masculine) and his last name “Edwards” and then refer to him by his first and middle names and last initial.  You do the math.  That will be Mac’s contribution this evening.  I don’t know that I endorse it.  



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I think I’ll take the bus

Posted by shana on Feb 21, 2009 in biking

I have one rule about riding my bike in the winter:

When temps are below zero, take the bus.

Today I’ve decided to add a second:

When sustained winds are at 25mph with gusts up to 37, also then take the bus.

It’s kind of a bummer, because it would be a perfect day for the heated pants, which I haven’t had out in a while, AND I just finally installed my new side cages on my new rear rack:

dscn2720which makes me look super spiffy, and gives my back a feeling of freedom that, when I get over the slight panic that I must’ve forgotten my backpack somewhere, is totally awesome.

That picture is from yesterday, when temps were about the same as they are today but it wasn’t snowing and the wind wasn’t blowing and my ride was very pleasant.  I was almost late to work, however, because (I stopped frequently to take pictures, and) that stretch south of Fullerton has iced over again.  I had hoped we were over this.  Bummer.


This is around where I’d wiped out last week… you can see how this would be a potentially somewhat hazardous place to take a spill, and why I wasn’t keen on pushing my luck and riding through it again, and why I don’t want to be anywhere near this on a bike in 37mph gusts of wind.


In totally unrelated news, yesterday at work, an Irish woman named Patty (yep) came into the cafe and told us, among many other things, that martinis are like boobs – one’s not enough but three’s too many.  She said she came up with that herself but she’s sure she’s not the first one to have said it.  I didn’t know how she’d have taken it if I’d have replied, no… no, you might have been the first.


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