Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What am I thinking?

Okay, it wasn't quite this cold today.
"What am I thinking?" I asked myself yesterday, as I trudged across campus in the freezing wind with the tears that were being squeezed from my eyes crystallizing and sticking my eyelids together. I wasn't on my bike because I'd only just flown back from New Brunswick that morning, and I needed to be at work right after arrival, so had cabbed over from the airport. And I was thinking about the fact that I'd just told my coworkers that I'd be riding in to work the next morning.

But it was cold. Really cold. -29C with the wind chill then, and people were telling me it would be even colder the next day. I stopped on the way home to buy windproof gloves, knowing I'd want them in the morning, and asked myself again, "What am I thinking?"

Up before dawn this morning, I listened to the radio people telling me that it was around -27C out there. I dug my Icebreaker tights out of the dresser, asking myself again just what the hell I was thinking, and pulled on tights, merino shirt, pants, sweater, and coat. Hat for under the helmet, and a huge scarf a friend made for me tied around my neck. Overheating and clumsy with all my layers on, I pulled the bike out though the door. What the hell . . . I thought again, and, sweating, went downstairs.

I set my bike on the road and realized my tires were a bit squishy - good for traction on the icy roads but not so great for speed. I tried to look behind me to merge left, and the hat, scarf, jacket, sweater and everything else made it look a bit like Michael Keaton's Batman trying to look behind himself. Full upper-torso twist. The sides of the road were icy and the traffic didn't seem to slow up much, and my breath froze on my glasses till I got up speed enough that my breath blew behind me, where it formed a white rime on the scarf.

I got to the left turn off Bank onto Cameron, which is usually a separated lane for a few feet. The separated lane did not exist. I made the left and found myself on the plowed sidewalk instead. At the nearest opportunity I got back into the road, planning my "yes, officer, I know but..." explanation for why I was going the wrong way down the cars' side of the road (the contra-flow bike lane was buried.) What was I thinking, when all the bike lanes are buried in snow?

And then I was on the iced-over path through Brewer Park heading for Carleton, and I saw the only other cyclist I'd seen that morning, coming along the path toward me, face half hidden in a black scarf, crunching over the frozen snow. I waved as he got close: he raised his fist in a "right on!" sort of gesture.

And I grinned all the rest of the way to work. That's what I'd been thinking.


  1. Then there is poor old wimpy me. I didn't take the dog out for a walk yesterday because it was too cold with the wind chill. The dog would totally have gone, she doesn't care!

  2. I discovered hand warmers this year. They are wonderful chemical pouches that fit in your mits. They seem to stay warm for 10 hours so I can use them both ways to work and back. When it is minus 20 - these things are great.