I am pleased to announce that I am now a syndicated bike blogger: I have a guest post on Josh Zisson’s site, Bike Safe Boston. I think that makes me syndicated, anyway. Head over to check out my post entitled “One Simple Principle for Comfort on the Road”.

In other news, I used my new front (left) gigantic pannier with a bulky load for the first time. Unfortunately, because the load was pretty small, it didn’t force the bag into a solid shape, and one of the clips jumped off while I was climbing the Longfellow Bridge. That was unpleasant. I may have to retrofit with some velcro loops. On the other hand, the bag performed admirably with groceries and folded laundry. It also stayed nice and dry today (which my electronics appreciated).


Temperature: 54 degrees

Road condition: Wet

Clothing: My normal office attire with waterproof shell and hood on top, light Pearl Izumi gloves, rain pants, Rockport (I am embarrassed to say I’ve been calling them Timberland) shoes.

Comfort: Excellent! I stayed totally dry, didn’t feel hot the whole ride.

Everyone seems to have stayed off the road today: it was as empty as the middle of winter (this mild winter, that is). Plenty of car traffic and double parking, though.

Maps; Cold, Windy, and Wet

March 1st, 2012

A few days ago while driving with my fiancee on Putnam Ave in Cambridge, she remarked on the epiphanies one has when first discovering a new place. “This Putnam Ave (at the intersection of Mass Ave and Mount Auburn) is the same as that Putnam Ave (in Cambridgeport).” Having those Aha! moments is so much fun; I imagine what fun it would be to sit down and draw your “world map” every week after moving to a new place. I recall in my first months living in Harvard Square running to Inman Square (exotic!) or biking over the Somerville line on Beacon Street and feeling as though was on the verge of falling off the end of the world. (My bike broke right in front of Johnny’s Foodmaster and I had to walk home.) Now, of course, I have to bike 30 minutes in some direction to find a map connection not yet made.

The other map discovery is by route following. I’m old fashioned and own a couple of atlases of Massachusetts that I have used to plan (but rarely ride) bike tours in Central Massachusetts. It is very challenging to put together a coherent route between two points which is suitable for biking and also direct enough, especially because one never knows the road conditions in a foreign place. The challenge is similar for using a mapping tool such as Google’s: while they suggest bike routes, I generally find them painfully indirect (go over the Longfellow Bridge to get to Back Bay Station?) or overly emphasizing “bike routes” which are usually just, um, streets. Over time, of course, you gather others’ route suggestions and combine them with your preferences to develop unique directional habits. As much as I’d love to collate that information, somehow I think it’s too idiosyncratic to bother.


Last night was an unremarkable ride in the rain/snow mix: the snow didn’t stick, and falling snow is as pleasant or more so than freezing rain… which brings me to this morning’s ride. I would say it was one of the most extreme bike commutes I’ve had. Freezing rain and temperatures, driving rain, and heavy wind. I took it slow and covered myself head-to-toe and it was mostly just a little inconvenient. On the other hand, I do like riding in the rain for the solitude and smugness; I hope the look on my face communicates that to the drivers sitting in traffic.

Temperature: 35 degrees

Road conditions: Wet, clean; they didn’t put down much or any sand for the storm yesterday

Clothing: Rain shell, sweater, rain pants, timberland shoes.

Comfort: Warm! I had the odd experience about five minutes from my house when my thighs felt noticeably cold – I think it was the cold rain sitting on the rain pants before I had worked up any heat from riding. I wore the hood up under my helmet and pulled it as far over my eyes as possible to avoid getting too much water on my glasses. The rain wasn’t falling too heavily, so it wasn’t as much of a factor as the wind.

Wet, wet, wet; More Fenders

January 27th, 2012

I knew it was dreary outside when I left, but within five minutes it was an outright downpour. As I was waiting at a light (with three cyclists behind me, mind you), the next person in line says to me, “If I had known it would be like this, I would have taken the bus.” I scanned over his bike, a mountain frame with wide tires, and noted, “No fenders, huh?”

I first understood the need for fenders in wetter weather than this. It was fall and I had ridden to my dad’s house without sight of rain, and only a light fall coat for protection. On the trip home (late, perhaps midnight), the rain was just straight downpour; the bike sent a gritty spray of sand up my back and also into my face. The bearings in the chain received a very heavy sludge that slowed my riding despite my desire to get home as soon as possible. I later found sand inside my pants.

Needless to say, I bought fenders the next week and have never regretted it for a second. Only much later, in a different heavy downpour I was compelled to ride through did I learn the value of proper rain attire, but that’s a story for another time.

Today’s ride went quickly because it was engaging: 43 degrees and water cooling on my face kept my body temperature down while I steered around relatively heavy traffic.

Clothing: Same as yesterday, heavy winter coat, wool gloves, rain pants, waterproof shoes. I got some water running down my socks, and that annoying “is everything inside my coat wet?” feeling, but it wasn’t. I did wish I had a hood today, though. I was so drenched my coworker thought I looked like a character from a horror movie.

I enjoyed the ride in to work today.

Clothing: Marmot rain jacket with a sweater and fleece underneath, EMS rain pants. I put the hood under my helmet. I closed the bottom of the rain pants with reflective velcro bands. Waterproof Timberland shoes. Heavy woven wool gloves.

Bike: I was afraid of ice today, so for the first time I put my studded tires on (Nokian A10 32mm). No ice, but maybe tomorrow. Fenders. Typhoon pannier on the back rack.

Conditions: Moderate rain, heavy winds. I think it was in the 30s coming in today. I got quite the blast of wind approaching the river and coming up Cambridge street downtown. I was warm, and actually started to break a sweat. It would have been frustrating to be in a rush, and I took it easy. Totally dry, as usual.

Overall thoughts: I stayed dry and warm today. I like biking in the rain because the drivers are usually in a panic to see you (when they see you), and there are no other bikers to contend with. I may ditch the fleece next time around – you gotta compensate for the heat output.