Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wind Chill: part 2 or "Randy lay there like slug"

Wherein not many scooter chronicles lately because a blog that just read "I rode to work" and "I rode home from work" would be...not much different from what you're actually getting, quite frankly


With the frost warnings, the last couple of mornings have been the coldest in eight months. Our temperature gauge has read a firm 32ºF as I scootered out of the garage. Checking the wind chill chart, with speeds up around 50mph, it "felt" like 12-15ºF. Thirty minutes later, as I park, while I wouldn't say I was toasty, I also wouldn't say I was freezing. A very pleasant ride and I think riding into the mid-to-low 20s is easily doable. A 15º ride with speeds around 45mph results in a wind chill of -15º and I'd definately need to add at least one other layer. I think I'll be able to do that kind of ride without too much discomfort. Luckily, those kind of days are rare.

What makes it doable is the gear; a combination of insulation and windbreaker is needed. Back in ye olde North Country, part of my winter gear that allowed me to tromp around well into the minus 20s consisted of heavy wool pants from the Army surplus store, polypropylene long underwear (for wicking and added warmth), and -- depending on the temperature and wind conditions -- I'd throw on some of my long cycling pants as a middle layer for added wind protection.

The Suit
For the scooter commuting, I started with the Olympia Moto Sports Airglide 2 Mesh Tech. This is a great suit. Kind of amusing that I'm wearing more protection and body armor than easily three-quarters of the motorcyclists I see on the road. Then there's all those years of bicycling in heavy traffic in lycra shorts and t-shirts, not to mention bombing mountain descents at over 50 mph. But I've had a bicycle slide out from under me at 25mph and I've slammed into a car door at 18 mph -- it fucking hurts. Considering my scooter speeds will often be in the 40-50mph range, in rush hour traffic, and I'm new at this, body armor is a good investment. The Airglide works well in summer weather, too. My first few rides were in 95º weather and when moving, it breathes wonderfully. When temperatures dipped below 60º, I added the jacket liner. The legs get more of a wind break than the upper body and I didn't add the pants liners until this week. It's bulky and heavy, but keeps me warm, and slides easily over my work clothes. Add a light pullover or a polypro undershirt and I'm probably good into the low 20s. I have some long underwear that should also comfort my legs into the low 20s.

The Gloves
Started with lightweight summer gloves that are quite chilly at about 60º. Added some thin glove liners and those started to get chilly at about 45º. The other Saturday, with morning temperatures at 40º, I decide to head over to the BMW Motocycle dealership to check out their winter glove line. Before I did, I dug out the cycling gear box and put on the lobster gloves. These were so warm I decided to skip buying motorcycle gloves. Still toasty at freezing levels and I can add the liners when it gets colder.

Foot wear
I'm wearing hiking boots and the pants cover the ankles and the tops of my feet. Just wore my regular socks yesterday and it was a little cold. Slipped on heavy wool socks today and total comfort.

The Head
I have a full face helmet that was OK to around 40º. With Teh Freeze on its way, a trip to REI Coop was scheduled to purchase this balaclava. Pull it up over the nose and cinch it tight, my head and neck were completely covered. Wearing glasses, it was comfortable to ride a little ways with the visor up. Which was good, because the visor suffered from massive fogging. Yesterday was a bit rough. Searching for a quick solution, I found: I apply a drop or two of dishsoap, smear it good accross the inner side of the visor and buff it out with a soft tissue. I’ve been riding for a week now since my first application of dishsoap and my visor was still fog-free this morning. So I tried it and it worked! NO visibility issues with this morning's commute.

You want a piece of me, old man Winter? Bring it on.

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