rule one point five of bicycle commuting

ted | bike | Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Dress for the weather, both for on the bike and off the bike.

I got up at quarter after five, rode 5.5 miles in just under half an hour in the 40 degree weather to take the train to work. My usual ride had a dentist appointment, so I went to Plan B.

One really nice thing about getting up and being on the bike before 0600 is that it’s truly King of the Road time. Very few cars. Almost no pedestrians, which means no jerkasses yellin shit. Only one bus, which I caught up to three times and finally passed – yeah, a big guy on a little bike passed your bus.

The problem with such a thing is that it’s really goddamn early. Too early. Stupid early. I don’t like early, especially if early comes immediately after late. On the plus side, my lady’s new 250G drive is up and running and there were some clean clothes for me to wear this morning. On the downside, I only got 4 hours of sleep. That turns out to be not enough sleep.

It’s also fairly chilly and completely dark out at 0600 in Chicago in mid-Octember. 40°F (4.4°C) this morning. The USNO says civil twilight was at 0639 and sunrise at 0709 today. I was standing on the platform waiting for my train at 0630.

So yeah, clothes. I was a bit chilly at first, mostly for want of an earwarmer and a windproof glove shell. I was wearing some stylish black work pants (Dickies double knee, thank you kindly), some generic long sleeve cotton shirt (I’m an engineer, I try to stick to plaid shirts, since that’s the standard engineer’s uniform) and a cheapassed cotton/poly light jacket. So yeah, some earwarmers and glove shells would’ve been nice. By the time I got to the station, I had worked up a light sweat and was feeling nice and warm. Yet while waiting 25 minutes for my train, it dawned on me that the very same 15 mph NW wind that I had enjoyed on the way over was very well chilling me rapidly. I should’ve put a wind shell in my bag for such an occasion, but I did not.

So remember, on the bike, you’re gonna start off cold and get warmer, but you’re also making your own wind chill. Also keep in mind you’re gonna work up a lil sweat. You need base layers that wick and outer layers that block wind in the front but can vent to the back. You definitely need windproof gloves and something for your head.

Most of all you need a decent night’s sleep.

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