Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Which They Call The Wind Darn Cold

I parked by Regina Hall this morning, not my usual spot. But recent winds and some sun means the bike rack there was clear, so that's where my poor bike spent a very cold day.

They would not call her “Maria” unless Maria is Spanish for “Arctic.”

I didn't ride Monday because it was supposed to snow. It snowed. I didn't ride Tuesday because there was a dusting of snow over everything. Meantime, although the calendar advances towards spring, Mother Nature does not, and the temperature has fallen like a fat man on ice.

Still, I wondered if I could ride this morning. If you recall, on Sunday I nearly froze my fingers off. But this time, I would have more on—warmer long underwear, three parts of socks, three shirts—and mittens.

So, early this morning in the cold bitter breeze I wheeled my bicycle out of the garage.

And you know what? There was a west wind blowing. Only lightly, but since the air was around 7 below zero (that’s in Fahrenheit, my international friends, far colder than 7 below in your scale), a little breeze made for a wind chill pushing 20 below.

There’s something to note about wind chills when you ride a bike. The wind bites when it blows from the side, gnaws actively when you face into it, and is tame like a kitten when it blows on your back. Since my morning ride was mostly south, the wind bit, a little. A few brief stretches were westerly, and those sucked. The brief sojourns east, in contrast, were nice breaks.

All in all, given how monstrously cold it was, the morning ride wasn't so bad. But as I worked the day away, I could hear the wind picking up. My office is on the ground floor of the oldest building on campus, and when the wind blows, very large pine trees that grow near the building make it howl. Today was a howler day.

Even though the temperature had gone up 20 degrees or so, I was concerned that the increased wind would make the ride home very unpleasant.

What I did not realize is that the increased wind also had slightly changed directions. It was mostly west but a bit from the north this morning. It was a bit westerly, but mostly from the south this afternoon. Despite having increased in speed, the change in direction meant the wind was mostly at my back.

Well, even on a cold winter’s day, I’ll take a wind at my back. I made it home, safe. A bit chilled, to be sure, although in neither the afternoon nor morning ride did I suffer any pain like the near frostbite experience I had Sunday.

It pays to wear mittens, winter riders. And now, why am I thinking of pie?

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