Sunday, January 24, 2016

Reusable hand warmers and becoming un-snowbound

I've needed hand warmers on several of my commutes.
I decided to make my own! These are stuffed with pinto and kidney beans. I'm reading that feed corn works well too at a longer-lasting version when compared to the smaller rice grain variety of hand warmers. They work for about 20 minutes in a sub-20° ride which work well for my 25 minute commute.

I used a bike-themed purple flannel. Marko brought over some feed corn that will fill future projects.

I'm still flabbergasted by selfish, careless, impatient drivers.

We had bit of snow over the weekend and I was pestered to go 'play in the snow', but I was having none of that. I'm not a fan of touching, throwing, getting hit with or lying down in the the snow intentionally. Having woken up on Sunday morning to a Tag-O-Rama posted less than a half a mile from the apartment forced me out of the snowbound confinement.

One of Pittsburgh's many 'city steps'; this one is on Herron Ave
We found an interesting food truck/trailer to set as our new tag. 

Being snowbound has it's advantages though: Marko made a batch of pretzels (I helped by making the non-pretzel shaped pretzels).

Mmmm, CARBS.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nice passes and saving/making hand warmers

There are times when I get a close pass from a motorist and then there are times when I get passed like this driver. I often wonder if they're being extraordinarily courteous or they think I'm transporting uranium. They'll give me lots of room and I say to myself: "Wow. The rare and elusive >4 foot pass! Nice."

Here's a screen grab of a driver nearly changing lanes to pass while I was in the O'Hara bike lane. I'm accustomed to close passes in this lane because the magical bike lane paint seems to make drivers think that they don't have to give wide berth.

More frequently, we have bad passes though. Here's another impatient, aggressive driver on Melwood nearly taking off the sideview mirrors of parked cars in order to squeeze around us on the narrow street.

Vermont plate GNA 441: a Red Sox fan and a murderous jerk

I have a love/hate relationship with chemical hand and toe warmers. I only need them for 30-45 minutes for my sub-freezing morning commutes. Do I waste money and resources on a 6-8 hour warmer for this short ride?
Marko taught me that you can re-use warmers by placing them in ziplock bags and by starving them of oxygen, temporarily deactivating them to be used at a later time.
I've been successful in using only one set for 4 cold commutes this month!

I've been reading that a crafty person can make your own hand and toe warmers with scrap cloth, a sewing machine and uncooked rice (or feed corn). Just microwave the bag of rice for a few seconds and you've got a commute's worth of warmth in your boots.

Here, a crafty blogger person shows us how to do it:

If I only knew someone with scrap cloth and a sewing machine....

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Eleven Degrees

Today was one of those weird weather days where the temperature is in the single digits early in the morning and then well into the 40's by the afternoon.
I wanted to get out of parking my car in Oakland for a physical therapy appointment after work, later in the day, so I decided that using the bike would alleviate the cost and aggravation of car parking.
The temperature was 11 degrees when I left for work in the morning and I prepped with several layers of wool as well as toe and hand warmer packs in my boots and gloves. I also wore ski goggles, but considering how much adjusting and breaking up of the fight going on between my helmet and goggles, I think regular safety glasses would have been a better option.

I lost count of all the other bike commuters I encountered along the way! The number was in the double digits. To see so many others on such a brutally cold morning was my reward.

Ice beard!

The sun was low, bright, cast long shadows and was blinding to those traveling East.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Icycle Bicycle 2016

Due to a knee injury, I'd missed last year's Icycle Bicycle ride. I was feeling a great deal of chemo-awfulness on NewYear's Eve and was worried I'd be sitting yet another Icycle Bicycle out. Thankfully, I felt well enough to leave the apartment and hop on the bike.

This ride seems to bring many different niches of the cycling community together: roadies, noobs, freds, recumbents, hipster fixies, commuters and randonneurs alike all come together to ring/ride in the new year. This makes me happy.
The number of people I knew increased exponentially from 2014 and I was good to see so many familiar faces and even ran into old friend and recent Boston transplant Ornoth.

Someone caught me enjoying/contemplating a cookie generously provided by REI.

We bailed halfway though the ride, citing cold and fatigue... the main objective of the ride being socializing: accomplished.
I've noticed a significant difference now that I have no hair: wow, hair keeps your head really warm! I may enjoy this benefit in the warmer months, but right now I need to ensure that my head is properly protected.