Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The thing I get tired of

Prepared - I hope - for anything.
Riding through the winter eventually does start to wear on you. But the thing I get tired of isn't the narrower streets (though that's a pain) or my running nose (though constantly sniffling through my commute isn't fun) or the increase in focus you need to watch for patches of ice, snow or sludge.

The thing I get tired of is the constant need to analyse the weather. And plan for the weather. And prepare for the weather. And dress for the weather and all its moods. And anticipate what the weather's going to do, not just in terms of the temperature going up and down, but in terms of where I will be, whether the humidity will change, what I will have been doing, whether I'm likely to be delayed, and how far I'll need to go to get home.

Today was practically balmy by Winter-of-2014/2015 standards: wind chill above -20, temperatures in the single digits (-9 or so). So I decided around noon that I would go down for a skate on the canal to break up the workday ('cause I was working from home and I can do that kind of thing). There was a snowstorm predicted to start around 4:00 pm, but I figured I could be out and back before that. So I jumped on the bike.

I considered, because it was only -9, only dressing in a base layer and my down jacket, but decided against it because I thought I might stop off downtown to take some photos at a construction site I'm planning to write about, and maybe stop at my office, and if I did that, the down jacket would cool down pretty quick when I stopped exerting myself. Also, it's only early March: who am I kidding with my down jacket?

So eventually, I headed out in the usual: t-shirt, fleece pullover, ski jacket, waterproof pants over some light cargos. And the Toque of Sending, under my helmet. I have been losing gloves all winter, and was down to a pair of those stretchy knit ones you can get for $3 at the grocery store, but it was warm ("warm" is relative, in The Winter Of The Day After Tomorrow, you know).

I was comfortable. However, by the time I'd done 12 km on the canal, I'd gotten myself sweaty - T-shirt and fleece not a good combo, under the jacket. I was starting to get chilled. Taking off my skates I could sense the shutdown, like the Terminator when it gets hit with liquid nitrogen. Still, it was okay, I thought, I would just get on the bike and keep the core temperature up.

But I hadn't remembered the snowstorm. And the fact that, just before a snowstorm, the temperature dips, the wind picks up, and the humidity screams upward, rendering a nice comfortable -10 bitterly cold. Especially if you're already a bit sweaty (and tired) from 12 km of skating. And if your thin knit gloves are also sweaty. And your hat. And basically everything that's supposed to be keeping you warm.

So, let's just say that one hazard of winter riding is the amount of mental concentration taken up by your fingers screaming at you in pain. Seriously, it's exhausting. Freezing cold fingers will make your core muscles clench up, your neck, your back. They'll make you nauseated.

Did you know there's nowhere in the Billings Bridge Mall you can buy mittens? I didn't.

Early in the winter, I am religious about listening to the weather forecasts. I check the Weather Network and Environment Canada, I stop what I'm doing and turn the radio up when the weather comes on, and I stop before heading out and think through what's going to happen and what I need to pack. And I attune myself to all that crap about what the humidity and wind are going to do before the 10 cm of snow comes whirling down. These are not really things most city people need to know. Cyclists, though. . . it's good to remember them all.

But I am tired of the responsibility. I want to ignore the weather report. I don't want to have to interpret it all the time, in terms of what those words mean for my actual senses. In the summer, if they say it might rain, you decide whether you're worried about being damp when you get where you're going. In the winter, every little change in the weather is going to have some major impact on your comfort.

That? That, I'm tired of. Otherwise, I might be a sick puppy, but I've been enjoying the Fimbulwinter.

No comments:

Post a Comment