Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

09 February 2011

Out Again And Iced

Yesterday I rode my bike to work for the first time in nearly a month.  The day started with light rain that ended just as I was about to set off.  The 42 F (6C) temperature was milder than it's been most of this winter.  And, as if I could perform some sort of meteorological manipualtion, the skies began to clear as I began to pedal.  By the time I got within a few blocks of my main job, I was pedaling under sunshine.

And the day grew brighter--but colder.  Early in the afternoon, when I rode to my second job, the temperature had dropped enough for me to notice the wind, which was stiffening, through the sleeves of the sweater I wore under my down vest.

(Interestingly, after I parked my bike, one of the security guards asked whether I was cold.  "And how do you ride in that skirt?," she wondered.  I surprised her when I said that I don't feel cold as much below my waist as I do above it.)

All the way to my second job, I didn't see any ice in the streets.  I saw occasional patches of slush that looked like soot-flavored (as if there were such a thing) Slush Puppies.  They presented no problem, especially with the cyclocross-treaded tires I'd mounted on Marianela.

But when I got to my second job, parking was a bit of a problem:

This is the same bike rack that was full--and in which I saw a Pinarello--every time I rode there during the fall.   So I locked my bike to the fence surrounding the campus.

After my classes there, I rode back to my main job for a meeting with a student.  By that time, the temperature had dropped by at least 20 degrees (F).  Luckily, I didn't encounter ice.  After that meeting (which lasted about half an hour), I started to pedal home. About three miles into a ten-mile trip, I  managed to ride down a street that was glazing with ice.  If I were in the country, I probably would have continued riding.  However, I was near the Queens County Courthouse, and a station of the E and F subway lines.  And, by that time, I was pedaling (with a fixed gear) into a wind that, I would find out later, was blowing at 20 to 25 mph.  Plus, I had a dinner date and didn't want to be late!


  1. Why is it that legs stay warm while toes get cold? Last time I checked, they were all part of the same appendage and the blood goes through all of it...

  2. You're amazing!! I don't think I could have done that. My fingers and toes are always the first to go numb, but I never considered the above the waist/below the waist factor. Hmm . . .

  3. Steve: I think that toes get cold because they are smaller and thus have smaller blood vessels. That's also why fingers get cold before hands and arms. (That's what happens to me, anyway.)

    Cherilyn: I don't know why we get colder above the waist than below. I noticed it years ago, and other cyclists I've known have commented on it. But nobody seemed to know why it was so.