Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quiet Winter Mornings

Last Ride of November
Riding a comfy fixed gear roadbike on a crisp December day, I realise that I know few better ways to achieve the feeling of all being right with the world. Something about the rhythmic motion of my legs and that perfect "wheels go round and round" sensation of fixed gear, just seems to make my body happy. I don't ride very fast and Mercy Anne is an even-tempered bike; a bike that does not demand I push myself but is happy to adjust to my mood.  

I have been trying to get into the habit of riding earlier in the morning. There is almost no traffic getting out of town, and for a little while I enjoy the illusion that the streets belong to me. The sun shines weakly at first. The frost on the grass casts a bluish tint over the landscape. It is freezing and I can see my breath in front of me. I try to keep my mouth closed as I breathe. My eyes are tearing up and I remind myself to wear sunglasses next time. I wear two layers of medium-weight technical wool and a windproof jacket, finally having "gotten" how to dress for winter after 2 years. Still, brrr!

And then, almost all at once, it feels as if nature turns up the thermostat. Is it me, having gotten warmed up, or has it actually grown warmer? I look and suddenly there is no more frost on the grass. Probably a bit of both. The sun has risen higher now, and shines a warm yellow. It is almost 9 in the morning. Time to head home .  

21 comments:

  1. Hi Velouria,
    Laugh at the winter!
    I have ridden a bike continuously since I was a child.
    I ride for many reasons, but joy is the prefix to it all, such as "the joy of riding to the store" and "the joy of riding to the cemetery".
    I have just turned 60, and my knees are acquiring arthritis. When the weather turned cold, it hit them hard, but today I found a new joy, "the joy of riding to exercise my knees, it lessens the pain"
    I'm leaving now, to get some sort of cold weather riding pants, I'm going to ride like crazy this winter.

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  2. I finally picked up a pair of proper winter cycling tights this season (not pictured in the photo, but they are the compression fleece-lined kind with chamois) and they've been a godsent. Finally feeling like clothing is not an issue. Now if only my nose would stop running!

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  3. Lately I've been trying to get inspired to get up early on the weekends to get a ride in before all the family commitments hit me full force. Thanks for the inspiration - lovely post.

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  4. In this tough, tough world, cycling is the only thing which brings me solace. Pedaling in silence and cold is perfect.

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  5. In this cold weather I need a destination to get out in the cold. For now, cycling to buy Christmas gifts is helping, but I'm afraid the snow and ice will soon put an end to even that. Drippy nose syndrome comes with the weather. I use my fleece gloves in place of tissue for those unwelcome moments in public when I can't get to my tissue. Sniff.

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  6. On days when I cannot manage a long ride, I go "for coffee" - a 20 mile round trip to the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington. Not the closest coffee shop, but having a destination like that does get me on the bike more.

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  7. Pretty sure I've seen you on that bike on the Minuteman! Now I know it's the Lovely Bicycle coffee route :)

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  8. Yup it's pretty much a straight shoot from Somerville to Lexington : )

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  9. Do you used a timer to take the photo?

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  10. What lovely reflections; your observations and reflections reminded me of the writing in Paul Fournel's book "Need For The Bike". What a nice connection to the bike and your surroundings. I enjoy similar rides on the country roads here around Guelph, Ontario (on my Mercian Vincitore!)

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  11. Before last year I never really liked winter riding all that much now I get out more often than before. It's a refreshing feeling the cold blast. Only downside like ya said is tearing from the wind and cold

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  12. I think that winter riding is my favorite! Winter nights being the best. We've had some stunning frosty mornings here too, which always lead me to take the long way to work. I never can manage to make myself stop to take photos though! :)

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  13. Glad you mentioned your colder weather attire.

    Last year my nieces were in town and they begged me to take them to American Apparel (of all the things to do and see in Chicago ...) . On the sale rack there was a windbreaker that crumples into a pocket when not in use.

    I've found with temps into the high 20s the wind breaker over a cashmere silk blend sweater and either a silk or merino wool base is plenty warm to start. If I start feeling too hot, the windbreaker takes up almost no room in my handle bar bag.

    No tights for me. This winter I'm using Outlier Woolback OGs. Almost too warm for the mild weather we have had so far.

    Paths around Chicago are not crowded this time of year, but there are other increasing numbers of people out on the bikes and walking every winter. Good sign, IMO. The more there are using the paths year round, the better the odds we will get more and improved options.

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  14. "I never can manage to make myself stop to take photos though! "

    Yeah, the photo here was taken a little earlier in the season, when it was warmer : ) I can take pictures in the winter only if I'm very quick. My hands start to go numb when I remove gloves to operate the camera.

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  15. When I commute to work, I basically wear the same thing on the bike as I would walking. But when I joined my husband on a club ride over the weekend I quickly realized that strategy does not work! My down vest was overkill, but my feet went numb from the cold. What kind of jacket and cycling shoes do you recommend?

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  16. "Mercy Anne is an even-tempered bike; a bike that does not demand I push myself but is happy to adjust to my mood"

    Would love to know what that means! Looking forward to a follow up review of the Vincitore.

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  17. Jolene - Mine is a Campagnolo Textran Cycling Jacket for women, circa 2010. I love it and it is 100% windproof, but not bulky. I am sure there are many other alternatives though. My main reason for buying this one was that it fit me well, whereas others not so much.

    I do not wear cycling shoes (as in clipless), but I know there are special ones for winter that look like ski boots. Some of the women I've been roadcycling with wear them. I wear leather sneakers with wool socks, which I find plenty warm.

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  18. Anon 5:13 - What I mean is that the bike feels very versatile. It can ride relaxed if I want, but it is also quick to accelerate and pretty responsive. I still need more time with it to do a proper review; it will probably be in Spring.

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  19. Great post. Long after the fixie craze is dead, the beauty and simplicity of fixed gear will live on.

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  20. "the fixie craze is dead"

    Sounds like a Smiths song.

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