Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Game Changer

It is here... winter that is. Until a week ago Missoula seemed to be experiencing a prolonged summer, with temperatures in the 80s up until the beginning of October. Now this morning it is 20 degrees out.

Not a big inconvenience, but the cold isn't helped by the unique topography of the Missoula valley. This time of year, as the suns declination declines in the sky, our favorite Mountain in Missoula seems to get in the way of the suns warming rays. Its 8.30 and the sun is just visible, but over at campus, which is right under the mountain, it will be another hour before the sun starts to warm the area.

Still... this means its that time of year to start layering clothing for the morning commute. I think I might also have to start riding something other than my fixed gear, since the only shoes that feel comfortable on that bike are not necessarily that warm.

This is just the beginning of a long winter, lets see if I can keep up this carfree thing when it hits -30 degrees.


Nadine said...

I'm worrying about winter in Kansas City, too. It can get pretty nasty when the days get short. We can make it, though!

Rantwick said...

We can all do it, for sure. Winter riding has lots of good parts too, not the least of which is being part of a select group of happy freaks.

Mark Kirschner said...

And now the real challenge begins! When I was at university (Central Washington University), we had one winter where we never rose out of the 20s for well over three months. Definitely not Missoula weather, but when you're used to the mild west-side climate, it was a big shocker. Wasn't in a car-free mode then, but did ride my mountian bike all over campus and town that winter.

Go with some fatter tires with a bit of tread, don't use anything that'll lock your feet to the pedals (toe clips, "clipless" pedals, etc) and get some practice at low speed maneuvering with a freewheel bike. You'll do fine.

Fortunately, you have what, eight months(?) adjusting your life to being car-free, now it's just making the adjustment to the weather. At least you're not trying to do both at once!

You'll do fine. Best of luck with the weather!

CarFree Stupidity said...

Im not really worried about winter riding, just takes about a week to become accustomed to the new reality.

I have a mountain bike (that needs some work before the snow flys) and plan on using that once things get messy. I think it just hit me once the cold arrived that Missoula always has a one or two week period when it never gets above 0. I'm all gung ho about winter riding and have done it part time for the last few years. But now with my commitment to a carfree year I don't have that option of getting in a car, and I don't think that riding in sub-zero weather conditions is particularly safe.

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest thing about winter cycling isn't so much the cold. It's icy/frosty roads, and the dark -- make sure you're well lit, and watch for black ice.

I have a spotlight mounted on my helmet so I can spot motorists I think are about to do something stupid (very common when there's snow/ice on the road). Highly recommended!

There's nothing quite like arriving at work, covered in snow, and knowing all your colleagues are stuck in snow-induced gridlock! ;-)

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