Truly this week will go down in the annals of Katie Cycling Experiences as extraordinary.
- Monday: Magnificently, dramatically sub-freezing. Steady headwind provides additional cooling, in case I needed it (I did not). Ride takes well over an hour. Evening ride feels balmy, in the low 20s.
- Tuesday: Nothing special cycling-wise.
- Wednesday: Practically blistering hot for December, with 25-mph headwinds. Broke a spoke nipple and rode on wobbling wheel for at least 8 miles. Ride takes well over an hour. In the evening, the wheel repair takes about 5 minutes and costs me nothing.
- Thursday: First ride with hiking boots and standard pedals + toe clips. No mishaps. In moderate drizzle, feet stay dry. Evening ride, rainy and dark, involves one terrifying near-miss in which a car almost turns left into me. A jolt of adrenaline provides enough energy to my legs to let me make my getaway safely.
- Friday: Exceptional volumes of rain and temperatures hovering around freezing floods roads with water and coats trees with thick layer of ice. I ride through a real stream that has overflowed its banks, with water flowing over my axles, pedals, and drivechain. I decide to get gaiters.
A little more detail on my morning commute today, since it truly was amazing. It was pouring down rain when we left the house at about 6:30. I wore my hiking boots and two pairs of socks, plus my quasi-waterproof pants, a waterproof jacket, and my usual gloves-and-ear covering (mostly polar fleece). Within one minute of leaving the house, everything was soaked and I felt the first trickle of water over the tops of my shoes. Turns out no amount of waterproofing will keep water out of the top of your shoes. Hence the resolution for gaiters. I should have worm my GoreTex pants, no matter how uncomfortable they were.
There was very little traffic on the roads. No school buses, from which I surmised schools were delayed or canceled; that cut down on the volume of private cars, too. And I think people looked outside, saw icy trees, and hid. The fewer cars benefited me, because I spent most of the ride trying (and usually failing) to dodge the gigantic, deep puddles that had formed along the sides of the road. Often enough the extended almost to the center line, well past the middle of the road. I skirted some puddles and rode straight through others, depending on the exigency of the situation. Even so, I ended up riding through puddles so deep the water fanning out from my front wheel flowed right over and into my boots.
The most exciting stuff happened when I finally got to Shrewsbury. There I looked up to see an ice-covered tree leaning all the way across the road; I stopped and walked around it, wading through a deep flow of water to do so. Then not half a mile down the road I came down a hill and found that the stream, which normally remains decorously under the road in its culvert, had overflowed its banks and had taken over the road for ten or fifteen feet. It flowed in a thick brown soup. I didn’t even hesitate to ride through because it was my only option and riding at kept me a little higher off the ground than walking. Even so, the water flowed up over my axles, well over my pedals and into my boots (but by that point who cared? My feet were soaked and numb and miserable anyway), and around my tires. I’m glad I don’t commute through streams all the time — it was a lot of work pushing through all that water.
Despite all the excitement, I made it to work. Soaked to the bone, shivering and freezing and with a ready-to-burst bladder, but I made it. I rounded up a couple of fans, spread all my soaking clothes out, and started bombarding them with air. I hope they dry before I have to ride tonight. I also wiped down my chain (rust! No matter what I do, rust!) and then went and took a hot, hot shower. My feet, practically frozen solid, hurt and then itched unbearably while they thawed. Fortunately they seem to have thawed out OK.