Comment of the Week: The secret to becoming a total badass

Riders in the storm-17

(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Steep hills and chilly mornings started hard for every single one of us. But life offers few clearer examples than biking that what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

That’s the wisdom reader Lyle W shared beneath our post about Wednesday night’s wild windstorm:

Not that i welcome the awful riding conditions, but it does strike me as kinda comforting that every year that passes since I’ve gotten back on my bike, the really hard stuff becomes easier to deal with psychologically as each year passes. I remember the first winter riding, and just thinking to myself after the first super cold ride: ‘How do people do this for six months?’… and then the next year, just a little easier… and then tonight riding home while literally being blown sideways with my face freezing as a branch flys into my fork, and just pulling over, ripping it out, and riding off without even thinking about it.

Awesome. Welcome back to winter, everyone, and have a great weekend.

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9watts
9watts
7 years ago

Glad to see the C.o.t.W. feature is still with us.

Jeff
Jeff
7 years ago

wasn’t that bad out there whatsoever. last February storm was about the worst I’ve been in during 10 years of commuting…2 days with sub-20 degree temps, 6″ of snow, and strong east winds. this week was pretty standard in comparison.

dan
dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

Yeah, this week wasn’t nearly as bad as the time I ran out of water while cycle touring in Malaysia fifteen years ago and had to go without for about 2 hours.

nickskaggs
nickskaggs
7 years ago
Reply to  dan

Child’s play!

I had to commute uphill both ways on a bridge made entirely of ice over a giant lava pond with two flat tubular tires after a bike mechanic accidentally overhauled my hubs with BB gun pellets instead of ball bearings and my bottle was accidentally filled with Everclear.

Oh, and there was a headwind.

n8m
n8m
7 years ago

Yeah! Gear up winter warriors!
Riding through the winter is rad. The cold keeps one riding faster to stay warm whilst magically arriving less sweaty. Even in the city there is so much beautiful nature best beheld by bike throughout winter. See ya’ll out there.

Mike Quiglery
Mike Quiglery
7 years ago

Bicycle riders in rough weather always look so miserable.

Clark in Vancouver
Clark in Vancouver
7 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quiglery

Yet, they might be having the greatest time of their life.

daisy
daisy
7 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quiglery

That’s just so folks in cars don’t feel bad.

Seriously, though, I really do enjoy winter bike commuting in Portland. The only buzzkiller: blink lights.

Stop the madness, people!

Mossby Pomegranate
Mossby Pomegranate
7 years ago
Reply to  daisy

Aw thanks for reminding me to charge my super bright blinker!

John Liu
John Liu
7 years ago

Wet and cold are all handled with the right clothes.

Give me wet and cold, instead of hot and humid, any time!

oliver
oliver
7 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

No such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. You’re on your own with that “give me wet and cold” nonsense though

Terry D-M
Terry D-M
7 years ago

Eh…I commuted by bike in Madison , wi for over a decade. We do fine here…..It is MUCH less miserable than waiting in the cold for a late bus…then when you get in, it is WAY overly congested and humid from all the overly bundled humans.

Pete
Pete
7 years ago

Here in California the whining starts when the latte gets cold, much less the weather.

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Iced lattes may explain a lot.

Matt
Matt
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

I can relate. Cold lattes are disgusting.

Doug Rosser
Doug Rosser
7 years ago

Don’t worry about being “tough” in the most dangerous conditions, worry about being safe. I broke my leg two years ago in the mix of freezing temps and drizzly rain I now refer to as “leg breaking weather.”

Ride in the freezing cold. Ride in the rain. If you get both, think carefully about riding the bus!

Puddlecycle
7 years ago

Balaclava, balaclava, balaclava, balaclava.

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
7 years ago
Reply to  Puddlecycle

Seriously! This is my top piece of winter gear. I love it so much that I almost dislike those days where it is cool out, but not cool enough to put it on.

Granpa
Granpa
7 years ago

Admittedly I wimped out on Friday, but on Thursday, and in typical winter weather of temperatures in the mid 30s with wind and rain, I do take perverse pride in being out in it. The character of the Great Pacific Northwest is writ large in winter.

Then when a big pickup truck with roo bar and PIAA lights and monster mudder tires rolls by I thing of irony and what a delicate nancy-boy that driver he must be.

No disrespect is intended to winter riding people named Nancy.

Chris I
Chris I
7 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

I work with a lot of people like that. They act tough, but most of them are pretty soft. The tricked out pickup truck is a lifestyle statement. Nothing more.

Jimmy
Jimmy
7 years ago

What’s up with his incredibly poor fitting helmet? It’s sitting back way too far and isn’t doing much beyond protecting against a small meteor. If you can fit your hand between your eyebrows and the bottom of your helmet you may as well not waste your time wearing one.

mh
mh
7 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

Doesn’t appear to be wearing gloves, either. Not the best survival instincts.

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

Good point. I have two helmets because my head is a little bigger than “Small” but smaller than the “Medium/Large” in many helmet sizes. I wear the Small one normally, but use the M/L one with either winter caps or sometimes sweat caps. Not by coincidence my small helmets are Giro Aeon which have awesome ventilation, but M/L are Rudy Project with less ventilation (and removable bug nets) for fall and early spring. If there’s one thing I won’t skimp on it’s the brain bucket…

TOM
TOM
7 years ago

>>Awesome. Welcome back to winter, everyone, and have a great weekend.

methinks it’s still FALL

In 2014, winter begins on December 21, 6:03 P.M. EST.

Miss Forpe Stubb
7 years ago
Reply to  TOM

astronomical winter, sure. ecological winter certainly has arrived

Kyle
Kyle
7 years ago
Reply to  TOM

In most English-speaking countries of the world “winter” begins on the 1st of December. And here in the Portland area meteorological winter is basically October-April. That’s the wet season.

Mike
Mike
7 years ago

“Awful conditions” I’d argue that Nebraska riding conditions are awful (6″ of snow and 10 degrees). Portland weather is more inconvenience than awful. I’d love to have Portland Winter riding. I don’t even look at the Winter riding I do as “badass” it’s just riding a bike is all it is.

Miss Forpe Stubb
7 years ago

i like extreme riding conditions as much as the next, but on Friday I hit a solid patch of ice on a turning descent and slid halfway across the road. yeah, watch out for that everyone. and THANK YOU to the uphill travelling cyclist who stopped to talk and help adrenaline-soaked me feel normal again.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
7 years ago

i braved they icy sidewalk last week when i dumped my recycling! woohoo!!!!!!

i intensely dislike these pieces. they encourage the stereotype that transportation cycling is dangerous or risky.

cycling in portland is a safe transport mode.

cycling in portland is safer than driving or walking (even adjusted per commuter). why is it that we never here these types of “walter mitty” war stories about people braving the weather to walk to work?

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
7 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

hear.

Charles
Charles
7 years ago

I’m on my third year of commuting by bike and it’s totally true that you get used to things that used to be huge issues. I can remember how worried I used to get about seeing rain in the forecast and now it’s no problem at all as long as I have the right gear with me. That doesn’t mean I don’t hate the wind with an all consuming passion though.

KristenT
KristenT
7 years ago

I did get a radical exfoliagating (like exfoliating but with leaves and wind) on Tuesday, which reminded me to do two things before I go out again:

— SUNSCREEN. Especially on your face.
— SOME SORT OF FACE COVERING. To keep from getting wind-burned. Also, don’t forget about covering your ears!

Ben
7 years ago

I’m curious how far people are commuting and if anyone has trouble keeping their hands warm. I have a pretty long commute and I can’t keep my hands warm. The first part is ok but my hands go numb for the second half. Even my heavy duty ski gloves don’t do the trick.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
7 years ago
Reply to  Ben

layers. when it gets below 20 i wear insulated gloves over thin gloves or wind proof mitten-type liners over insulated gloves.

Ben
7 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

I like the mitten shell idea. Can you still shift with them?

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
7 years ago
Reply to  Ben

two finger “vulcan salute” versions are available and they make shifting easy. check out rei.

dan
dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I only do 4 miles, so may not be a good comparison for your commute, but I’ve been pretty happy with these: http://www.kinco.com/product/1938kwp/. OK for shifting once they break in, great for signaling, and the price is right. Generally they say if your hands are cold, think about insulating your wrists and keeping your head warm.

Mike Cobb
Mike Cobb
7 years ago
Reply to  Ben

These are being made locally: http://bikemitts.com Cozy polyester fleece-lined fairings for your hands. I think you’ll be able to check them out at Bike Craft.

Joe
Joe
7 years ago

year around 🙂 ride on!

F.W. de Klerk
F.W. de Klerk
7 years ago

Why was the other mans photo swapped out on this story?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  F.W. de Klerk

Because I liked it better.

Carl
Carl
7 years ago

I agree. The other guy looked totally miserable.

Tim
Tim
7 years ago

Somewhere in Minnesota they are getting a laugh at what west coasters consider badass. I am fine with this. It is the least we can do for them.

Ever ridden when it was so cold that snow and ice is not slippery?

That’s Minnesota.

Chris
Chris
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim

So cold your snot and breath freeze into an icy sculpture on your face?!!

F.W. de Klerk
F.W. de Klerk
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim

And actually the true “America’s Bike Capital”… is it not?

DNP
DNP
7 years ago
Reply to  F.W. de Klerk

What is the metric?

TOM
TOM
7 years ago

I try to ride 365. My eyes also water badly in cold air.

Found that snowboarding goggles cured the wet eyes, BUT they don’t mesh well with a bike helmet. Then got a snowboarding helmet.

Ear flaps , neck covering, close-able vents, works with goggles … the perfect cold weather solution for me.

Add a balaclava for exposed areas, gloves with liners and rain pants over jeans …am pretty well set for the weather (except the damned WIND)