Back in the Saddle?

Or something like that.

Last January. We didn't even have snow this winter!

Last January. We didn’t even have snow this winter!

I had a new bike built up (a Soma Buena Vista) back in August. I rode it most days through October. The holidays sort of start in October for us, and they really don’t calm down until after the new year. So I was lazy and/or had other things to do that somehow prevented me from getting on the bike daily. And the lack of daily riding had a strange effect on me…

I’ll call it nerves.

I was nervous to ride! And I can’t pinpoint why. I still feel it occasionally and somehow I find an excuse to get on the bus instead. So I’m riding two or three days a week and trying not to feel guilty about it. Once I do get on the bike I’m not nervous and I never regret it. It makes me happy.

So what’s the deal? Most people would think it’s the Seattle winter weather. Dark. Wet. Cold. But this week I rode on all of the rainy days and somehow decided to bus on the partially sunny and dry days. This has been a mild winter. And anyway I don’t get cold — I’m actually too warm when I ride. Maybe it’s the hills? There’s quite a bit of climbing for me on the way home and sometimes I just don’t have the energy.

But I want to get back in the saddle! I’ve got Streets + Beets coming up, and there are tons of fun training rides I’d like to participate in. Motivation!

Snapshots of Winter Riding

Img_18321

[My first work commute on the Triumph, early January. It was sprinkling rain.]

People always wonder how it’s even possible to ride and be comfortable/warm/safe during the winter. The truth is, it doesn’t rain as much in Seattle as you think. And it’s not that cold. In fact, you don’t need to dress much differently than you would if you were walking to your destination or waiting out at the bus stop.

I’ve previously written about riding in the rain and some of the things I learned early on. Seattle has a pretty mild climate, so winter riding tips and attire don’t really differ much from the rest of the year. I really only have two tips (and, I apologize for the crappy iPhone photos).

Img_18391

[going out on a Saturday night in January, the night before it snowed: two pairs of leggings, boots, skirt, wool cardigan, scarf. jacket and gloves appeared later.]

First, check the temperature. The trick is that if you are standing outside and slightly cold you’ve got it just right. Once you start moving you will heat up; so if you are hot just standing there you are going to be too warm once you start riding. I’ve found that for the winter mornings when it dips below 35 degrees I need my warmest winter jacket, thick waterproof gloves, and something to cover my ears and sometimes face if necessary. Wool leggings or tights under your pants or normal pair of leggings/tights is also helpful. In Seattle it warms up for the commute home; sometimes I find that the thick winter jacket is overkill and have to remove it halfway home.

Secondly, and most importantly, dress as yourself. You don’t have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of bike-specific clothing and gear. If you like that look and are comfortable with it, go ahead. For me, since I’m most often biking to get to a place where I’m not going to be doing anything bikey or active I wear my normal clothes. If I had to shower and change after every ride, it wouldn’t be the same convienent, time-saving activity I enjoy so much.

So, wear your skirts on your bike. It’s not a problem, I promise you. Besides, tights are warmer than pants every time.

Photos from a much sunnier day…

Img_17871

The week leading up to the Christmas holiday was pretty amazing as far as Seattle Decembers go. A little tree trimming detour took me through the Sylvan Grove just before my office building, a nice surprising little detour that I would have never otherwise taken.

Then, on Thursday before heading down south I picked up my new bike (still un-named for now) and took it for a spin. It was about 50-degrees and sunny! We stopped off at Trader Joe’s to pick up some last minute holiday items and then took 15th over to Volunteer Park before heading home (where I found Stella with her flat back tire).

I didn’t ride the new bike in today, but I should have. It wasn’t raining but it did rain all last night, so my legs were splashed with a bit of mud when I arrived at work. Not a big deal, but this really is what I got this new bike for. However, without racks, lights, etc the new guy isn’t really set up for commuting yet. I’ll probably wait until after the new year to really get him ready for daily use.

 

 

A Week in Winter Commuting + Some Holiday Fun

Img_17251

The scene of the crime: last night I lost an entire bottle of wine to the street in front of City Market. Watch for potholes and secure your goods! 

It hasn’t been wet, but it’s definitely been cold. And dark. This week I busted out my Icelandic “tourist” coat, previously seen on our honeymoon over a year ago. Normally that jacket is way too warm for Seattle, I’ll sweat in it if the temps are anything above freezing.

(I call it a “tourist” coat, because even though I totally loved it at the time of purchase… I couldn’t help but feel like a total tourist wearing it on our trip. I’m over that now.)

Tips for keeping warm

  • If you are going to wear a thick coat, wear minimial layers underneath. Otherwise you’ll sweat once you get moving. My tourist coat is great in 30-degree weather only if I’m wearing not much more than a thin long sleeved shirt underneath.
  • Most people can get away with thinner jackets if they have some good quality baselayers and their jacket is waterproof + breathable. Wool is best, because it dries quickly and doesn’t retain odors. *I* still need to invest in some good wool baselayer shirts.
  • Smartwool tights and socks are the best. I need more. When it gets too close to laundry time I find myself layering up with regular socks and tights, which doesn’t work nearly as well. 
  • BOOTS! 
  • Warm hands and fingers are important. Not only can you feel a lot colder if your hands are cold, but it’s important to be able to break quickly! I have a pair of fingerless gloves with an optional mitten cover from Eddie Bauer. They are minimally water resistent and wind-blocking, plus I can slid the mitten part off if I need to take a photo or use my iPhone real quickly. 
  • Cover your ears. My helmet is too tight to wear a beanie underneath, but I do have a fleece headband which I actually prefer because then my ears stay warm but my head doesn’t get *too* hot. 
  • Scarf it up too! Scraves are great because not only do they look awesome, but they keep your neck warm. Plus they can be easily removed if you realize you are over-layered. 

This morning the fog was rolling in (or maybe it was burning off..). My commute begins up on First Hill, where I ride alongside and above I-5 through Cap Hill:

Sitting just above the fog, I could see the lovely blue sky and the city. Had to stop for a photo. 

Img_17331

I also had to stop for the University Bridge earlier this week. But that’s not a big deal – I love the smell of the bakery there.

Img_17201

I’ll close this post with some photos from my friend Derrick’s holiday party last night (the party, which, on the way to I lost the aforementioned bottle of wine). Thanks, Derrick, for hosting the first holiday party of the season! (For me, at least).

 

On Returning to Winter

Well, actually, not returning. When we left Seattle it was still fall (just look at my last post!). Two weeks in Belize doesn’t exactly prepare you for freezing temperatures… yet here they are. Before returning, I was exciting about layering clothing and wearing something other than a swimsuit. But now that I’m here I’m afraid that I forgot how to ride in this crazy traffic and up these ridiculous hills.

Which is why, starting tomorrow …

Winter-bike-button

From LaneChange.me:

Take The Winter B-icicle Challenge!

As winter settles in across all Northern Hemisphere nations, and the cold wind blows, it’s tempting to put your bike away for hibernation. But as of December 1, we’re asking you to keep on pedalling through all three winter months.

Why are we doing it?

To see if we can put our money where our mouth is in regards to living a greener life, and not just when weather permits

A good time to reflect about those people without homes during winter

We love riding our bikes and don’t want to go three months without it

We hate traffic jams!

Rules. We will ride to work or school everyday unless:

The road is so icy we’ll most probably break our necks

We have a meeting or activity that is more than an hour bike ride away

We’re so sick with the flu we can’t even be bothered to watch The Wire

So, if you are up for the challenge sign up on Facebook!

Oh, and I’ll be giving you a break from winter and posting up Belize pics soon. Please forgive the poor quality of my iPhone camera.