Monday was freakishly cold, I got caught in a brief episode of sleet, and the evening weather report predicted there might be snow in the higher elevations. I worried because the Boy would be coming over hills in rout from a visit with his dad in the morning. It never occurred to me that my own commute would include snow. But when I woke up this morning and stumbled into the kitchen, this was my view out the window (the blue tarp was over the bikes, but got blown off)
It almost never snows in Portland, and I cant remember the last time that it snowed in November. Snow that makes even a pretense of sticking is even more rare; and yet here it was. As I sipped my morning coffee, I weighed my options. I could bus in to school, which would be a huge hassle, especially given the art project I needed to take in to class, that included a willow branch and several pounds of other material, as well as my textbooks and laptop, or I could bike, which meant I should probably head out right now, to allow plenty of time for the commute and the crazy drivers who have no concept of how to drive on snow and ice.
More and more the whole cycling thing is becoming a moral imperative for me, a daily act of rebellion and redemption against all that is wrong with this culture. I didn't like the statement I felt I would be making by falling back on motor vehicles just because there was an inch of snow on the ground. I wanted a better statement, and I wanted my message to be clear, so I pulled down the yellow plastic sign that had been adorning a shelf in my home, mounted it on the back of my bike, and headed out into the weather
The guy over at the Minus Car Project has a highly tuned system for calculating how many layers of what to wear to stay comfortable riding in all kinds of weather. I am not that detail oriented. So I just stated layering: snow pants over lacra leggings, thick socks and thermal knee-high boots; a thick wool sweater and additional wool arm warmers over corduroy shirt, over my Minus Car Project t-shirt; fleece gater over balaclava; wool gloves; Eddie Bauer rain coat. Miraculously, I could still move with all those layers, and was relatively comfortable.
I will have you know, I was far from the only cyclist on campus, though our numbers were reduced. Throughout the day, when I would pass another intrepid cyclist, it seemed we made a point of exchanging nods or other salutes; and during a brief piriod of walking my bike up a steep incline of the Mt Tabor ridge after dark, a fellow cyclist pulled up along side to make sure everything was ok. Nice.
The Boy made it over the mountains and safely home, as did I.