February Commute!

I did it on a weekend, but it still counts.

Given the forecast and the fact that I needed to put in a few extra hours to get caught up on some things as work, I decided to take Scooter to work with me (along with a change of clothing and my shower stuff). I stayed focused on my work task because I knew leaving any later than 2pm might mean some of my commute would be after dusk. I was prepared to ride in the dark, but I still do everything I can to avoid it. In my mind, it is just not as safe — especially in the winter when motorists are not necessarily expecting to see cyclists out and about.

At 1:30pm I left my desk and about 30 minutes later I was dressed and ready to head out. The temperature was in the 50’s and there was a light to moderate “breeze” out of the west/southwest. I thought of our whippets as I pointed my nose into the wind and took off. Not sure what the whippets experience when they poke their nose into the wind, but I felt energized with a sense of freedom, independence and anticipation. This was my first-ever February commute and probably my first multi-hour February ride in several years.

The winter road conditions dictated my route. On my way into work, I drove my normal warm-weather bike route that takes me down from Longmont on County Line Rd through Erie . This road is a  narrow 2-lane country road with narrow to non-existent shoulders. It didn’t take long to determine that this would be a very unsafe choice today. There was some snow still piled up on parts of the shoulder and where there wasn’t snow there was lots of loose sand. I would have had to ride at least a foot to the left of the white line in order to be on clear pavement. But, luckily, I have options. The route I decided on was the same one I used on my January commute  (you remember…it was 17 degrees F!) — north on Huron to CO-7, then a bit east to the frontage road that runs north/south on the east side of I-25. That goes all the way north to CO-66. Turning left onto CO-66 and a long westward stretch. Once I cross CO-287 in Longmont, I zig and zag along a few country roads until I finally get to the farm. It can be a very pleasant ride. I don’t usually take it in the warm-weather because it is more than 3 miles longer and takes an extra 20 minutes to cover the distance. That, and it is pretty exposed. If there is a wind — you can’t hide! It really doesn’t matter what direction it is coming from either. It is impossible to avoid.

I freely admit that I was concerned about the wind. Not that I’m afraid to ride with wind, I’m not. Today it was more a concern that a wind could slow me down considerably and then I’d have to deal with cold an dark conditions. A situation that I was trying to avoid.  However, whoever was incharge of wind direction/speed management today was on my side! As I left the parking lot, the wind was clearly out of the west. It stayed that way until I got up to I-25 at which point it seemed to shift a tad and come out of the southwest. The wind remained neutral (as a pure cross wind with no serious gusts)  or helpful all the way up to I-25. By the time I had to go west into the wind, it had actually let up some and instead of riding into a 10-15 mph wind, it was probably more liek 5-10 mph. Not something you can miss, but also not something that is going to cause me to struggle significantly. As I made steady progress going west, a cyclist going the other direction was clearly enjoying a strong tail wind! They were flying!

Although I was dressed in my winter attire, I was comfortable. I had on light-weight long fingered gloves and only one pair of socks with my winter riding shoes. On top I wore a thermal top, my long-sleeved Copper Triangle jersey and a flouresent yellow vest. No jacket. I also wore a lighter weight pair of long tights. Initially I thought I be too hot, and I probably would have been were it not for the wind. It is hard to explain, but riding in the winter when you have to be prepared for cold, wind, weather and a quickly falling sun really makes one feel like an explorer, an adventurer and a member of an elite club (albiet, a club composed of a bunch of NUTS!).  And, just think, tomorrow I get to do it all over again — just in the opposite direction!