Friday, January 24, 2014

In Which I Try Some New Biking Fashion

What all the cool kids wear to bike in winter. Actually, it's the warm kids. They look silly and feel ridiculous, but on a truly cold day, this is what you want on your feet.

Pretty cool, huh?

My winter boots are falling apart—where the rubber lower meets the leather upper, the right boot is split all the way along the left side and the insulation is sticking out like milkweed fluff about to fly away. So my wife suggested I borrow my son’s boots, since he’s a student at ISU, has cleared walkways to transit on and does not use his boots. Plus, we both have the same size ginormous feet.

At the same time, my regular biking shoes are suffering from snapped hickeys—the nice rubber closers that Eldon Rocca so kindly got me on RAGBRAI are wearing out. I need to find some new ones.

So this morning, when I was headed out on my icy slide to work, I donned Ben’s snow boots. I felt ridiculous mounting the bike with those huge clumpy Frankenstein monster things on my feet.

And I also felt divine. I wear more than one pear of socks, including an insulated one, when I bike in cold, but usually my feet are the least comfortable part of my body.

Not today. Despite bitter morning winds that chilled my face and made me wish I had chosen warmer mittens than my thin biking gloves, my feet were fine, happy, toasty and warm.

Indeed, both the ride in the morning and in the afternoon were, from a did Joe freeze or not point of view, pretty successful. I stuck my paws in my pockets when stopped, and my fingers got a bit chilly, but not painfully so. And even if the chill breeze froze my cheeks a bit—well, the rest of me was so covered that it did not seem to matter much.

The boots were good for riding downhill. In the summer, when you go down a little incline, you shift into 7 and pump and see if you can get up to 20 mph. In winter, you stop pedaling, deploy your landing gear, and hope that you don’t slip on the way down. Today was a landing gear day.

I’m happy to report I’m home safe and sound. And despite my morning qualms, I biked home while it was still light out, and the streets were probably slightly better than they had been. Still slick, still icy, but what melting there had been turned some formerly dangerous stretched a bit mushy.

So, I’m proud to say I made it. And that I biked this very cold winter week. I probably won’t get a lot of miles in next week either, but I’ve got 54 for the year so far. Given the weather we’ve been having, that’s not too shabby.

And now I have warm feet on cold biking days.

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