So I’ve been wanting to get more into long-distance biking in all weather conditions. Last Saturday, I biked 50+ miles in windy weather in 10 below freezing from west Philly, PA to Princeton, NJ. It took about five hours, with about half of that in the dark, and a half an hour of that warming my hands up at a coffee shop. Its true that I wanted to test out my lights and night time biking on country roads, but really I started so late because our trip to Princeton was last minute.
I listened to Florence and the Machine, Pentatonix, and a book on Theodore Roosevelt for most of the ride. No during pictures, but below are the before and after shots. Alicia & co. wanted me to get my gear back on because I looked hilarious in my ski mask, etc. Highlights include crossing the Delaware River at Trenton and biking on country roads. Lessons I learned:
- Winter-time biking can be fun with the right gear.
- Biking on country roads at night is awesome if you have good lights. Cars see you easily and give a wide berth. Though make sure you have a good external battery in case lights and iPhone start to go (my lights got pretty dim right before I made it).
- Winter time biking after a snow storm is dumb as toast. All the most beautiful parts of the ride were not plowed (i.e. canal tow paths). Also big chunks of ice on the road can make you skid out. Good that I have my old trusty mountain bike from Taiwan with hybrid tires instead of a road bike.
- I think solo biking in the winter is kinda nice. With the constant need to stop, take off gloves, check maps, adjust gear, etc., it might be annoying to do with someone (which is strange cause I usually always love adventure buddies).
- Bike lanes along big roads is worse than biking down residential streets. Map your own route beforehand, only do bike paths on small roads. And “bike routes” are bullshit. It’s usually just a busy road with the occasional sign on it saying watch out for bikes.
- Either take a river or scenic trail out of a metro area or public transport to the edge of the city. I spent 2 hours biking through North Philly. Not so much fun.
- Fill up your water bags with warm water. My insulated bike bottle froze about 45 minutes before I arrived and I got thirsty.
- I stopped about two hours in for bathroom, food, water fill-up, etc. I got back on the bike without putting more layers on, and had to stop 15 minutes later (newfound love for Dunkin Donuts) because my hands were freezing. Dethawing hands hurt and is unnecessary if you always layer up more than seems necessary before getting back on the bike (and then taking them back off after 15 minutes of biking when you get too hot). Slight inconvenience is godliness.
- Have family who love you on the other end of the trip with lots of good food, warm tea, champagne, love, hugs, and a shower ready to go.
- Overall, totally worth doing. Hedonic pleasure is overrated. Adventure is forever. Don’t stay inside all winter, friends. Get whatever gear you need so that being outside is fun.