“Are you going for a bike ride?!” my college-age daughter asked when she saw me dressed for cycling a few minutes after sunset. When I told her I was about to head out despite the fact it was night, quite cold, and the roads were ice-covered, she sought out the rational parent in the house. “Mom!!! Dad’s going out for a ride. Stop him!”
“Best of luck,” replied my wife. “You’re absolutely crazy, but you already know that. Be sure to kiss the kids goodbye and I hope you make it to Heaven after you have your accident.”
So it was with those encouraging words that I set off on a jaunt to inspect the Christmas lighting in my neighborhood. It was my first-ever subfreezing ride. The roads were covered with black ice and good old-fashioned white ice. The neighborhood has very few street lamps, so visibility would be a little tricky. Given the likelihood of mishap, I opted to take Old Ironsides on this trip. The fatter tires and flat pedals were very welcome and improved my chances of avoiding an accident.
As it turned out, I didn’t have any serious issues. I was very conservative and regularly stopped on the side of the road when cars approached. Even that was a little dicey as it was on the edge where most of the ice was. Despite it being the coldest of my rides, I was actually a little warmer than normal because I was riding much slower and taking frequent breaks for picture-taking. Slower speeds meant less wind chill, and that was a good thing!
At one point, I was taking a picture of a house when the owner pulled up (this is happening with increasing frequency and it makes me wonder if my timing could be any worse). He was bemused to see a bicyclist out in this weather and said, “Kinda chilly to be riding a bike, isn’t it?” I smiled and said, “Not if you’re wearing the right clothes!”
It was a nice night and I saw several great houses. However, I did feel exposed riding by myself. I think a group ride would be a smarter option. And roads with no ice would definitely be preferrable!