Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter with a fury

Beth. Ruling. At the FBC Festivus last night.

Yowsa. Three days ago we were riding around in clear streets and it was 40 F. Last night it was snowy slushy for the Festivus. Tonight, it's 18 F and will drop below zero before we wake tomorrow. With the wind gusting as it is, it's probably already under zero. 

Winter has descended upon Spokane like a wolf on a fold. As old William Claude would proclaim, "It's not a fit night out for man or beast." 

I took a short ride today when it was about 20 F. The slush from yesterday has turned the streets into knarly ice-covered obstacle courses on the south hill. The streets don't look two days into winter here. They look like streets look about a month into winter.

Hank won "Best Lights" at Festivus, as voted by his peers.

I took the Rawland out on the high drive trails. I'm running the 2.3" Neomotos at about 30 psi, which make for a nice float over the snow. But on the icy-rutty streets I want my studs. For icy rutted streets, I think the Nokian Extremes, with the studded knobbies in all directions would be ideal. The Hakkapeliittas that I run on my ice bike just have studs down the center, which work great for compact snow and sheer ice.

So far the disc brakes on the Rawland are nice. But not yet required. I think there are pretty specific conditions that push icy snow up onto your rims where disc brakes really shine. We've not had those conditions yet.

Last year, Liza gave me some Pearl Izumi lobster claw gloves for x-mass. I was thankful, but I considered them overkill. On days like today, I really appreciate them. 

For cold like this, I put my rain legs over my pants to cut the wind, and I wear poly long johns. Up top, I have thin wool base layer, a bit thicker wool turtleneck, Ibex wool/Dash Hybrid vest, and the O2 rain jacket as the outer shell: many thin layers. I have a smartwool gaiter and a smartwool beanie. I wear clear glasses to keep the icy wind out of my eyes.

Joe and Jon (and Jon's soul as it leaves his earthly body) discuss the finer points of lighting up a mobile nativity scene, loud-ass sound system, and various xmass lights with marine batteries

So far I'm neutral on the Lake Boots. They are warm and they clip in, so they perform their essential job, but I really don't like the lacing device. I'll go into more specifics with a full report in a few weeks after I get more time with the boots. I wear two pair of ultra thin (liner) wool socks in my boots.

This kind of cold freaks me out. It's easy -- especially in our day, where we're at once so disconnected from real nature and so confident in our technology to avoid it -- to forget that intense cold can mess you up and even kill you. It's not "gonna kill ya" cold yet, but it's still good to keep a healthy respect at the forefront of your mind as you go off and enjoy winter pursuits when the temperature dips below the single digits.

If you haven't, a great short read is Jack London's To Build a Fire. I read this at least once a year, not just for a reminder of its simple lesson, but because I like that it gets into the mind of a dog and tells a bit of the story from the dog's point of view. And he does it in a way that is not corny. If you're not a reader, the Orson Wells-narrated short film version is really good too.


The Editor said...

I went riding for about 4 hours today with my normal road tires on my mountain bike at 30 psi. I am beginning to think studs are unecessary, I didn't have any problems(one close call when I stepped off the bike in the Roseours parking lot), and all of the roads were literally like a sheet of ice.

Anonymous said...

John, I agree with you about the South Hill roads seeming like a month's worth of winter. I got in a couple short rides to and from basketball practice today and the low traffic route that I took was covered in snow and rutted ice. The Norco and its fat mtb tires performed well in these conditions, but I wouldn't have minded the super studded tires you mentioned when I wiped out while braking on the ice at the Crestline and Thurston intersection.