Cold Days Ahead

15-16 February, 2006 Temperature: 7 degrees F (-14°C)

Sorry I didn’t update yesterday, but sometimes life in meatspace intrudes.

Yesterday’s ride was cold. The seven degrees temperature felt more like minus seven, for some reason. It couldn’t have been humidity, because all the weather wallahs tell us our atmosphere is very dry right now. Perhaps it was just fatigue, as I didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. But the little spot of frostbite on the end of my nose indicates that it is time to investigate better helmet sealing.

When we were riding on Shephard Road yesterday, a jet of icy-cold air was blasting in under my facemask and super-cooling the tip of my nose where it rubs against the rubber. When I shifted the helmet to stop that, the sub-arctic jet slashed into my left eye, which teared up, and then the tears froze, blinding me. So I decided to take it on the nose after all. We were running late, so I coudn’t afford the time it would take to stop for coffee and a wardrobe adjustment. That was my thinking at the time, anyway. I probably should have stopped.

By the time we arrived at work, the inside of my visor was frosted from the left side, almost to the center, and my nose had a raw, red spot right on the tip. My legs were also frozen to the point where I swear I could feel the titanium screws in my right knee. I had elected to wear the lighter rain pants instead of the leather snowmobile bibs. All that warmer weather we’ve been having spoiled me, I guess.

At least the roads were dry in most places. Here’s an amusing vignette from my freezing rain ride on Tuesday:

Riding up Bernard Street, I noticed a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. In the yard of the house on my right, a cottontail rabbit was running alongside of the Baron and I. He was keeping right up with us in the snow, and seemed to be trying to get ahead of us to cross the road. We slowed down a bit to give him a chance, and he darted left onto the icy road in front of us.

The moment his little paws hit the road surface, he went ass-over-teakettle, spinning and flailing his furry little limbs all over the street. When I close my eyes, even now, I see the image of his fluffy white bottom sticking up while his nose slid along the ice, all frozen in the Baron’s headlights. I was squeezing the rear brake gently, and we missed running him over by no more than the length of a whisker. I’m sure he made the crossing alright, but it illustrated just how little traction we had out there.

Apparently, Mr. Bunny Rabbit was not running ice screws or studs in his paws.

So now, the Wizards of the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild are telling us that we are in for a big snowstorm, and days of frigid arctic weather. It’s supposed to be a cold, crisp weekend. Probably a good time to get some stuff done around the house, and I still have that article for “Scoot! Quarterly” to write. If it really gets down to -14°F on Friday night, I might have to go for a midnight ride. That will be the coldest temperature to date, and I’ve been wanting to set a good benchmark for the fellows in the Cold Weather Challenge.

Today’s ride was easy. Only five degrees warmer than yesterday, but that made a huge difference. It’s supposed to start snowing any time now, and I’m sure I’ll be riding through flurries on the way home. Hey, this is what it’s all about. I’m dressed for it today, having chosen the more restrictive - but - warmer garb this morning.

Well, my “blunch” (blogger’s lunch) is over, and I’ve got to get back to work. More tomorrow night…

10 Responses to “Cold Days Ahead”

  1. tiff Says:

    Poor bunny wabbit. Maybe he was trying to commit suicide? I was riding one summer (2003) and a rabbit burst out of the undergrowth, ran into the road, and leapt for me, bouncing off my right kneepad (I don’t wear kneesliders) with enough force to bruise the knee underneath. Either it was another entry into or a badly misjudged attempt at murder…..

  2. tiff Says:

    oops. html error. the link was supposed to point at the book of bunny suicides: http://tinyurl.com/9ccxu

  3. Seagullplayer Says:

    Thanks for the update, keep some kind of lotion on that nose.

    I always have trouble with frost on my visor. Seems I fight to keep just enough airflow to keep it clear, and not enough to freeze to death. Maybe you can give us some pointers? Even thought about some kind of snorkle.

    Rubber Down.

  4. Mad Says:

    Gary you make me feel like a complete wuss! It really is cold when you start getting frostbite. I think I’ll stick with Brit rain…

  5. irondad Says:

    Where are all those “squids” with tank tops and flip flops? It would seem that this is the perfect venue for being truly “cool”. Then we’d see some well deserved frost bite.

    Seriously, Gary. you have my total RESPECT. You have nothing to prove anymore. Little battle scars can even be neat mementos. Just remember to use a little bit of self-preservation. You and I flirt dangerously close with “edges”. It can get heady. I suffer from the malady, myself. Some day I will tell you a cop story and the price I paid.

    Sorry to sound heavy. Something today triggered old memories. I have just come to be real fond of our little group and felt the need to play “Dad”. After all, I AM three or four years older than you!

    Dad, I mean…. Dan!

  6. Mad Says:

    Yeah, what ‘Dad said!

  7. mnscooter Says:

    How do I explain this to you guys? I think you would understand, if you knew what I know and were standing in my snowmobile boots. You might analyze the risk, and choose not to ride. I analyze the risk, assess my equipment and capabilities, and decide to press on.

    I haven’t found the limit yet. I’m waiting for the Baron to capitulate some bitterly cold morning. He almost did, this morning, but I will tell you about that when I post tonight. I’m at blunch right now, and it has already been an interesting day. It will be a long blog entry tonight.

    Ride warm,
    =gc=

  8. Marc Says:

    Gary,

    I haven’t posted in a while but I’ve still been reading your blog and riding the GL1000 most days. It was down for repairs for a week while I glued and braced the fairing back together. I know what you are thinking but it actually cracked from being poorly mounted, the cold, and probably old brittle plastic, no crashes yet. Yesterday was a treat as Eau Claire was on the fringe of the snow storm that passed through. I also am waiting for the cold to come tonight to see for one if the bike will start and two just how miserable it is to ride in -15 degree weather. I’m kind of a night owl anyway due to working second shift so I’ll wait until the temperature bottoms out before suiting up. I did wander around at the show looking for you and/or the Ride to Work booth and didn’t see either one. Oh well, family first. Next year I would be willing to help man a booth for Ride to Work if needed. Glad to hear you are still alive and well. AAA for a scooter! Gotta admit I’m still scratching my head on that one. Also, don’t give in and get a cell phone. A brisk walk to the nearest phone will never hurt anyone.

    Regards,

    Marc

  9. mnscooter Says:

    Hey Marc, nice to hear from you again. I’ve been wondering how you were doing.

    Yeah, I’m sorry I missed the show, but I don’t think RTW had a booth there anyway. My understanding is that it has become too expensive. That’s why I was going with Baron. I suppose I could have gotten a press pass, but Milquetoast Motorcycle Monthly already had their quota. Or so Victor tells me. Whatever, I think I’m about done with them. Nothing cool ever lasts, right?

    Well, let us know how you do tonight. I’m interested as hell, as I’m pretty sure it’s going to get colder there than it will here. Be careful, as always, and…

    Ride warm,
    =gc=

  10. Seagullplayer Says:

    Gary, your blog is doing it’s job. I don’t expect to buy a scooter just yet, but I am making every preperation to ride earlier and longer this year. It also has me looking for a second bike, better suited to winter mods, than my Sportster.
    Keep up the great work.

    Rubber Down.

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