Winter has arrived in full force in Washington (though I suppose technically it’s still “fall”) and again I’m reminded of how much fun cold weather riding can be. The sharp air on my face and in my lungs is invigorating; it’s impossible to overheat from the effort of cycling – and there is something strangely satisfying about being one of very few people who are out and actually experiencing the weather.
Remarkably (he remarked), cold isn’t much of a problem on a bike – that is, once you’re a mile or so into the ride. (I think that first five or six minutes – which can be, well, a bit bracing – is what puts most people off winter riding.). Two or three woolen layers under a medium weight windbreaking jacket, winter bike tights, good gloves and a balaclava (for the worst days) are good for temperatures all the way into single digits.
Of course right now it’s dry, and the snowfall has been modest. It’s harder to remain quite so enthusiastic during those slippery, slushy February days when salty road crud splashes up from cars, soaks your legs and collects as puddles in your shoes. In fact the best part of those days is peeling off the cold, wet bike clothes and changing right into something warm and dry.
Which, come to think of it, is itself an advantage that cycle commuters enjoy over those poor sad souls who have to slog, in their all-day clothes, through the same crud to their offices from the Metro or parking garage. Ah, good – something to look forward to even then!