Trying to commit to riding to work

OK, I’m the first to admit my timing is poor. We’re well into fall now and winter is fast approaching. Although the days are nice, the mornings are cold, and the sun sets earlier every day.

An early October start

Last week was the start. I made it 4 days that week, and the only day I didn’t ride was a day when I had an after-work commitment.

It felt good, and the weather was so nice, especially in the afternoons. On most mornings I took my old Trek 610 road bike, but on Friday I took the fixed gear I converted from an old Schwinn World Sport instead. It’s such a lovely bike to ride; it’s smooth and quiet and the drivetrain has such a direct feel. The only problem is I’m not very graceful. I tend to fall off at stops. You could be kind and say I jump off instead but that would be going a bit far.

This week I have been negligent1 but I see nothing stopping me on the next two days, and I plan to ride both.

Equipment for the cold

The first thing I learned was that even when the day will be over 70 degrees, the October morning before the sun is over the horizon is too cold for bare fingers and ears.

I have a nice thin wool cap I got for Christmas, and a quick twist of my helmet’s fitting dial makes up the size difference. My fingers were slightly more difficult. I ended up buying a pair of full-fingered gloves with an optional lobster claw cover. They’re just about warm enough for a 30-35 degree morning, and with the cover on they’re too warm for 50.

Otherwise I can still easily ride in shorts as long as my torso is warm. A sweatshirt works fine.

Recording speed and distance

My bike computer died a while back, and I’ve been putting off replacing it. Eventually I decided that rather than go with a dedicated cycling unit I’d rather use a GPS so I can easily record tracklogs and see where I’ve been.

My old GPS worked, but had a bike mount so terrible that I broke two within a year and spent the rest of the time with a cobbled-together monstrosity. I wasn’t going to stick with it. Instead I picked up a new Garmin eTrex 30 and two of its simpler, cheaper, and better bike mounts. I now have solid low-profile mounts on the stems of both my bikes and a GPS that when attached is a neutral color and relatively unobtrusive.

The display is easy to read in sunlight, though a little hard to see in early morning light when the unit is still in “night mode”. I have full street maps and a detailed map of the Denver bike trail system loaded on the unit.

Keeping it up

Like every other time I’ve tried to do this, the hard part is establishing the habit. As long as there isn’t snow and ice on the trails I can ride all winter, but the strength of my willpower is uncertain. I could have weeks like this one, where I make excuses but get back on. Or it could be much worse, and I ride for 2-3 weeks before giving up entirely until the next time. Wish me luck.

— Steve

  1. I had guests on Monday morning and after I saw them off I was in a hurry to get to work. On Tuesday I was running late for a call, and this morning it was cold and very windy. Weak, I know.

Posted on 17 October 2012