Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Bike Commuting - Minneapolis, Minnesota

I openly dispute the common assertion that Hell is hot. Let me explain. 

Scenario 1 - Hell is Hot

Let's suppose that scorching heat is, in fact, an accurate description of the netherworld. You are pedaling along, parched, searching for water, until at last your body dies and the heat consumes your flesh, leaving behind a heap of sun-bleached bones. Sounds reasonable. 

Scenario 2 - Hell is Freezing

Now let's suppose that the opposite is true -- that Hell is cold. Again, imagine yourself riding along, muscles so numb that all you can feel are dry bones grinding against each other at the joints. A true die-hard, you press on. You approach an intersection...Red light...Thud. That's right, you fell over because your footwear has been ice-welded to your pedals. You could not release. There you lie, horizontal, in the unplowed bike lane as beautiful people in Range Rovers and Mercedes pass you by, thinking to themselves, "what is that underpaid, uneducated adolescent doing taking a nap on the side of the road? Get on the sidewalk!" Fair observation. However, instead of your flesh being quickly consumed by heat, carnivorous birds, and bacteria, your body is deep frozen. Everything is preserved, especially the pained and tortured look on your face, much like Otzi here.

Your misery is perfectly preserved for generations as your descendants attempt to understand the reasons for which one of their ancestors would attempt to conquer such a hellacious clime. All of this is negated, however, if your corpse is somehow suctioned into the upper atmosphere by an ominous Polar Vortex. Then you're like Moses

44 & 17

44 is the number of days below zero so far this winter (through Feb 11, 2014). 17 is the number of consecutive days below zero through the same date. For the majority of the world, this arbitrary threshold of 0 degrees Fahrenheit is roughly equal to negative 18 centigrade. This means that going from negative 17 centigrade to negative 18 centigrade is somehow noteworthy. Simply put, Minneapolis has been ridiculously cold this winter; I'd argue Hell.

Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder

You may have heard the old Scandinavian saying, "there's no bad weather, just bad clothing." Following I will share my successes for avoiding a Mosaic translation via an ice-welded-pedal-induced intersection tip over. All of the items below are used in my lowest temperature bracket, which is anything 10 degrees F or below (negative 12C). 



Lower Body


  • Sock Liner - thin Keen merino wool liner
  • Sock - Keen/Smartwool/Wigwam merino wool higher-pile sock
  • Shoe - 45Nrth Wolvhammer SPD

That's a lot of gear. The objective is to block the wind as far away from the body as possible (outer layers), warm with mid layers, and wick moisture with base layers. I find that I'm plenty comfortable in temps down to 25 F below zero (with wind chills of 40-50 below). Now at least stop and help that poor, half-frozen, underpaid adolescent out of the bike lane and on to the sidewalk. 


  1. I love your writing!!!! Poor uneducated Mercedes rock!

  2. You are the best dressed biker in the nation!