Thursday, January 15, 2009

Five Degrees

Musings from my morning commute today ...

At five degrees, it hurts to take off your glove so you can close the door to the Randocave (a.k.a., my garage) using the fingerprint reader.

At five degrees, birds are still singing as the sun rises. Or maybe they’re bitching about how freaking cold it is. But if they’re OK at five degrees, then why shouldn’t I be? They don’t even have chemical warmers on tops of their feet.

At five degrees, you also need chemical warmers on the bottoms of your feet.

At five degrees, most cars still won’t give you a break. They’re trying to get to work and you are slowing them down. Never mind that you’re trying to get to work, too, and that they will end up stuck at the stop sign 20 cars deep in a quarter of a mile, so that shaving five seconds by passing you on a blind hill doesn’t really help them, much less you. I think it’s just a lack of empathy thing with most people in cars – you either have empathy, and consider that other people deserve to survive on this planet, or you don’t.

At five degrees, righteous anger will warm you up for a couple of minutes.

At five degrees, the insulated aluminum insulated coffee mug that fits so nicely in my rear bottle cage still keeps coffee warm, even after two miles and a cold downhill.

At five degrees, you have to blow on the rim of an aluminum insulated coffee mug, or your lip will freeze and stick.

At five degrees, some nice lady in a minivan with an Obama sticker will pass you (at a safe spot) and give you a “whoo-whoo” and a wave. And this will make your day.

At five degrees, climbing a long hill while wearing a balaclava will fog your glasses, big time.

At five degrees, the fog on your glasses will turn to frost. Really.

At five degrees, the steep descent after that long climb that has you doing 35 mph will show you the meaning of wind chill. I’m no meteorologist, but I think that equates to a wind chill temperature of -10 below Holy Crap!

At five degrees, doing 35 mph down a pot-hole strewn road with a wind chill of -10 below Holy Crap, unable to see a thing because your glasses are covered in frost and your eyes are stinging and tears are pouring out of them like brackish water from a New Orleans levee, and your legs are spinning at better than 160 RPM because you’re riding fixed ... that is an Adventure.

At five degrees, the insulated aluminum coffee cup still keeps the coffee almost warm after four miles. And this time I remembered to blow on the rim, keeping the second layer of skin on my lips for a few more minutes.

At five degrees, if you fire off a snot rocket, the projectile will freeze before it hits the ground, turning into a green ball that goes bouncing down the road. Okay, not really, but it is a cool visual, and you have to wonder how long it will remain semi-liquid on that cold road.

At five degrees, you are not willing to stop, pull out your watch, and time snot freezing on asphalt.

At five degrees, coffee that was steaming hot when I put it in the insulated aluminum coffee cup is, at best, “tepid” after five miles.

At five degrees, your brain is a little frozen, so you will forget to perform tasks in ways to which you have not yet become accustomed. You will, for example, forget the “warm the rim” step in drinking the tepid coffee from the insulated aluminum coffee mug.

At five degrees, the moisture in the balaclava may not quite freeze, but it is crunchy.

At five degrees, a crunchy balaclava begins to rub a now-raw lip the wrong way.

At five degrees, there is no right way for a crunchy balaclava to rub anything.

At five degrees, the lady out walking her dog waves at you and calls “Good morning.” You are both outside in weather that most people avoid, which makes you comrades in arms. And this will make your day.

At five degrees, two pairs of wool socks, chemical warmers, and Seal-Skinz are not enough to keep feet warm. You should have worn the insulated winter cycling boots – not the sandals.

At five degrees, the guys that are usually out working with the trains at the CSX railyard are not there.

At five degrees, when you get to work your bicycle cable lock will be stiff and unwieldy.

At five degrees, after a 45-minute ride, you are not willing to hassle with a stiff and unwieldy bicycle cable lock, and are more than willing to just pass it thru the frame once and let the front wheel take its chances.

At five degrees, walking into the office in bicycle clothing, people will react. Some will applaud, while others will shake their heads at your idiocy. Hopefully, some will be inspired. Either way, you’ve proven to yourself that you can ride to work in just about the worst weather that Tennessee nature can provide. And that will make your day.


  1. I'm tempted to say this is five degrees of separation from your senses! But, that which does not kill us...

  2. That which does not kill us can still hurt like a mother.

    That probably sounds less wimpy in the original German. But what doesn't?