Cycling, hiking, camping, etc — now back in southern Indiana. Words and photos.

Reactions

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

I get some interesting reactions to my riding to work in the cold.

There’s a guy who works part time where I work, and part time at the public library with Sarah. This affords us opportunities to swap stories and in particular allows me to call him by his nickname “B Money” (or B$, as I’m told it’s written) at my workplace, which is a less casual environment than the library. I think it makes him a little nervous, but I make sure only he hears me. Anyway, apparently Sarah was talking to B$ yesterday and he made a comment that I ride to work “NO MATTER WHAT!” I’ve talked about bikes with him a few times, and he uses a skateboard as transportation at least some of the time. I don’t know if he ever got his bike back from where it was being stored in Maine.

Of course, true to form, I rode this morning. It was about 15 degrees, with a windchill of around five degrees and a thin layer of snow covering everything. I was pretty comfortable and found a new trick that worked well for me. I wore wool socks over my work socks, so I just had to remove the extra layer and didn’t have to fiddle around trying to put on different socks. I’ve started getting some predictable comments as I walk in, particularly “Brisk ride today?” The funny thing is, I get that comment even when it’s in the upper 20s, which is really a pretty comfortable temperature range, at least for my brief 15-20 minute ride.

At an office meeting last week, we were talking about the fact that there’s insufficient parking here, and my boss jokingly said, “If only Michael would ride to work again.” I told him I’m still riding and he and my other coworkers seemed pretty befuddled.

So, a lot of people around here seem to think I’m crazy, but truth be told, I’m having fun. I don’t mind the cold nearly as much as I mind rain. In the rare case I drive to work, it always reinforces how much better it is to ride. I didn’t even start my car yesterday, and it felt good.

8 Responses to “Reactions”

  1. Noah Says:

    I had to put $10 in my Focus yesterday. I had to clear the gas door of a bunch of leaves and crap to get to the filler cap. Last time I’d broken the seal on it was May 24th. While that sounds like I never, ever drive, the truth is that with my wife’s medical conditions, she’s much more comfortable getting into and out of the Explorer, so when she’s going somewhere with me, we take the larger of the vehicles. If my destination is within a mile or two, I’ll usually take the bike instead of the car — and there’s a LOT of stuff 2 miles from my place.

    I have all sorts of canned responses to the quandaries of the wanna-be-clever crowd at work. You’re right, though. 20’s is pretty nice with just a little more clothing than “normal” cyclists wear in fall before they hang their bikes up for the winter. Below 20 is a bit of a different story. Single digits, you really have to intentionally dress warm for. Riding at temperatures below zero is a challenge.

    I know Bloomington isn’t known for their awesome public transportation infrastructure, but anyone can car pool. Unless you’re working in a company of 10 people or so, I’m sure at least two people could find a good match. Even then, if a neighbor works within a mile or so from where you work, that’s another great car pooling opportunity.

    It astonishes me to see swarms upon swarms of single occupant vehicles clogging the concrete veins here in KC.

    Kudos to you for staying in the saddle. The parking situation, gas prices, and general lethargy epidemic have a lot less impact on you. As crazy as they think you are, I am guessing it won’t be long before they start to understand, and at least get curious. Just watch out. You may have to find a different closet to park in. :P

  2. MRMacrum Says:

    Every day my truck sits idle is a good day. I burn up about a gallon of gas if I drive to the shop. But if I ride my bike I burn up calories I can afford to lose and use. It does get easier to forgo the bike when the temperature falls. The thought of a warm dry ride to work can be seductive when the thermometer drops below freezing.

    Your co-workers may consider you crazy. But as a member of the choir, I find your dedication to human powered commuting laudable.

  3. Marty Says:

    I can’t ride to work here (or well, I probably could – but I would only do it twice before I got mugged and my bike stolen in Camden), but I take the train so my car sits for days at a time. I think I went 2 weeks once without even starting it. Granted, I’m not getting the exercise you are, but I do love not having to drive into work – particularly because parking in the city (Philadelphia) is absolutely ridiculous and expensive.

    But I still think your nuts for riding to work when eskimos Inuit are cursing the cold.

  4. Marty Says:

    That “eskimos” was supposed to be crossed out … *sigh* at WordPress’s lack of standards support in the comments section.

  5. Doug Says:

    I used to get the same comments at work when I first started riding year round. I think I have everyone conditioned to seeing me walk in the office in cycling clothes and a helmet on even on the worst weather days. I finally commented to a co-worker last month during the first bitter cold spell that not a single person has made a statement in a very long time to me like, ” You didn’t ride your bike today, did you?” or “Don’t you get cold riding your bike?”.

    Now I even hear an occasional comment like, “We all should ride our bikes to work like Doug” when the topic turns to the current price of gasoline. I doubt any of them ever will ride a bike to work, but at least I’ve opened their eyes to the fact there is other choices to driving a car everywhere. I set the bar high!

  6. John Says:

    About my light. I am always flicking it off and one depending on where I am riding. I am only on my second set of batteries and the light is three years old. The MUP at home is very dark, and there the light is always on, however during my commute, I only turn it on when a vehicle is approaching. That happens very, very seldom. My commute yesterday only saw three or four encounters with motor vehicles.

    No one says anything at work any more. (To me anyhow). Friends have said that the “bike rider” has been the topic of quite a few conversations.

  7. Jon Says:

    I rode in 36 mph wind gusts (headwind), at 14 degrees F, this morning, and nobody even blinked. I think the people here have just decided that I’m crazy, and there’s no use in mentioning it, any more. ;-D

  8. Ian Says:

    I’m pretty lucky. I can make it to work in 30sec. without ever going outside. People always tell me I’m lucky and then say I’m crazy because I suit up and go out on the bike for the fun of it.

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