I have my morning routine down. Kid in the high chair, cereal in the tray, bike clothes off the peg and on, work clothes in the bag. Coffee. Kiss the wife, wave goodbye to the kid through the dining room window. He waves back, I turn to go. One time another cyclist came down the street after I left and he got all excited thinking it was me, then disappointed when it wasn't. Cute, in a bittersweet sort of way.
So the weather. Just above freezing with no wind most mornings, wet on the roads. Insulated tights, a base layer, balaclava and shell seem to do it. Light shoe covers and full-fingered summer gloves inside the bar mitts (review pending, but so far I love 'em). I alternate between my bike helmet and an older ski helmet equipped with clear-lensed goggles. There's a little bit of snow on the wooden bridge I cross in the morning. At 7:40, mine are the fifth set of tracks across. Good to know I'm not alone. I'm too sweaty if anything by the time I get to the office. VPR on the radio, hot shower, awake and at my desk by 8:00. Every morning.
Back in June, I wrote about it being the best time to get started bike commuting. I'd say that right about now might be the worst, at least if darkness is what you dislike the most. If what you you hate the most is cold and snow, we've got a whole other three months coming up for that. But darkness? The sun will set on Friday this week at 4:13 PM, and at 4:14PM the next night. The days will continue to shorten until the 21st, but the afternoons will get a little longer. In a month from now, if I'm still riding (and I plan to be!), I'll be riding home in the daylight.
I know that what's coming will be harder. Cold and snow. Cold, I can dress for. Snow? I can leave a little earlier in the morning and ride snowy road shoulders, but I can't make the drivers around me any less reckless (or just plain freaked out by a cyclist on the road in front of them in the snow). I really want to make it through the whole winter on my bike. It's going to be a challenge. The snow rig is holding up well so far, though the rear wheel needs to be trued and I don't really have a good place to clean the thing as it gets crusted over with winter grime and liberal applications of WD-40. Connoisseur bike lubricants are for the nice road bikes, the winter rig gets whatever's cheap.
But mark my words: if I make it though this winter, I am seriously going to consider buying a snow bike for next winter. The Salsa Mukluk is at the top of my list right now, for reasons that I may go into in a later post.