Winter bicycle riding in the city

November is Here… Still Biking into Work!

That’s right, and even though that’s not me in the picture and it’s not snowing like that in Chicago (thankfully), winter is approaching. I know, it’s terrible, but there’s nothing I can do about it… EXCEPT… Maybe… No, there’s nothing I can do. And for all you people that actually like winter and the colder weather, well you can shut up. Yeah, you read it right. Shut up. Just remember that this site is called Summer of Andy, so consider yourself in enemy territory you winter loving fools.

OK, back to the bicycle riding… Let me first say that this is a big deal for me. Anything that involves the cold weather and me being in it, that’s a big deal. In most cases I’d rather have someone punch me in the face repeatedly than go out in the cold. I know, if I hate the cold that much, then why am I living in Chicago? I don’t know, I still haven’t figured that one out yet. I’m pretty sure I curse 95% more during the winter months than I do during any other time of the year. Although in Chicago it some times feels like there’s 8 months of winter, 3 months of summer and a couple weeks for each of those other seasons… spring and whatever.

OK, this time I’m actually getting back to the bicycle riding (you see, because in the previous paragraph I said I was going to but actually didn’t). So here I am riding my bike on November 1st. In September (when I usually stop riding), everyone else was still riding around the city wearing t-shirts and shorts. I had already started wearing pants and a jacket, along with gloves and earmuffs when the temperature dipped into the 50s. Yes, the 50s. That’s cold when you’re on a bike. Now that the temperature is in the 40s and some times in the high 30s in the morning, I’m in full “keep warm, but stay flexible” gear. That includes: undershirt, thermal, zip-up sweatshirt, jacket, long underwear, pants, thick socks, gloves, and earmuffs. For the most part, I’m warm and surprised I’ve been able to ride this far into the colder months. I may be able to keep going as long as it doesn’t snow, but I guess I’ll see how I feel when it drops into the 20s. Ugh, that sounds terrible.

Why is this year different than previous years?

In previous years, I always rode to work along the lake shore. For the most part, in September along the lake you have have colder weather, stronger winds, and more of a chance of getting hit by huge waves. Yes, I said waves. Don’t believe me? Well take a look at this video of the waves along the lake shore path from 2011. This year, when it started getting colder, I took to riding my bike on the streets more. Advantages: less wind, not as cold, and more of a direct route. Disadvantages: stop lights and crazy drivers.

The alternative to riding my bike is riding the bus. Right now, this is a mess. The last time I took the bus home from work it took me 45+ minutes to get home. On my bike I can be home in less than 20 minutes. The buses are a mess because right now there is construction going on at two different sections of the bus route. They’re fixing the bridge at Fullerton and Lake Shore Drive, which has been going on all summer, and they also have the ramp closed from Michigan Avenue onto Lake Shore Drive. If they don’t fix both of these soon, I have a feeling I’m going to be riding my bike right through to next summer. Unfortunately, I don’t know how many layers I can add before it’s impossible for me to actually to pedal my bike…

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