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January 30, 2019

Cold Test Run

   This morning my car reported -22°F/-30°C on my ride into work.  Tomorrow is forecast to be colder and record setting.  Today's low did not beat Madison's record cold which is the all-time record for the city at -37°F/-38°C, but we did set a new record for the lowest high.  Temperatures only reached -10°F/-23°C today.
   My coldest ever bike ride was January 15, 2009 at -24°F/-31°C, but it was only 1.5 miles.  At the time I overdressed and could not have gone much further than I did, but until now I've never had the change to beat the record.  However, my previous record for a full ride into work is -9°F/-23°C.  The forecast calls for temperatures of more than 15 degrees colder.  There is a big change in clothing requirements between 20°F and 30°F, and from 10°F to 20°F.  At these very low temperatures I needed to test how much clothing I would need.  A test ride was required and after work I set out on one.
   Temperatures were already around -15°F/-26°C with very strong winds from the west.  The winds, along with the promise of colder temperature tomorrow, were the reason I decided not to ride today.  Wind chills were as cold as -50°F/-45°C and exposed skin can freeze a matter of seconds.  It was important to get the clothing combination correct if I expected to ride in this cold.  I planned to ride down Old Middleton until it joined with University and loop back.  I knew this distance was short enough to be safe but long enough to expose any weakness in my layering.  I put on:
  • Medium cycling shirt.
  • Cycling jacket.
  • Heavy wool socks.
  • Neoprene cycling shoe toe covers.
  • Neoprene/fleece cycling full shoe covers.
  • Fleece lined fitted pants.
  • Fleece lined thermal pants.
  • Nylon balaclava.
  • Nylon cycling beanie.
  • Neoprene face mask.
  • Ear muffs.
  • Winter riding gloves.
  • Neoprene handlebar covers.
  • Goggles.
   The cold with the wind pulls the heat out of you fast, and I had a decent tailwind getting started.  Roads were covered with solidly frozen snow.  Rubber didn't have much give at these temperatures and the ride was rough going.  I was riding at colder temperatures than I ever had in modern cycling attire, and I was paying close attention to any signs of discomfort.  If it happened on a short ride it could become dangerous on a long ride.
   My hands were the first to show signs of cold.  Finger were not staying warm and I knew this was going to be a problem.  This was due to the tailwind.  My handlebar covers break headwind, but provide nothing against tailwinds.  In addition, my cycling gloves are nearly impossible to make a fist in.  With my other gloves I am able to pull them down a bit to close my hands into a fist.  This warms cold fingers and helps a lot.  My cycling gloves are not easy to move at all. 
   On the return trip my hands stayed a lot warmer.  I now had a headwind and the handlebar covers were blocking the brunt of the cold.  However, I started noticing my abdomen feel like pin pricks.  The headwind was too much for my jacket.  Rubbing helped and I didn't have far to go to get back home, but the test ride had done its job. 
   This is the longest ride at these temperatures I had ever done.  5.5 miles at around -15°F/-26°C.  Tomorrow would be the big day and the real test. 
   Pictured is me after the 27 minute ride.  Doesn't take long to frost up at these temperatures.  The frost is all from breath.
   We got about 5 more inches of snow today but it wasn't quite as heavy as initially predicted.  I worked from home and went out at noon to clear the driveway and walks.  Otherwise, the weather craziness was just stats I saw online.
   At work I've been pitching an idea of building a computer controlled terrarium.  I know next to nothing about plants and asked a coworker what we should grow.  She recommended orchards.  So while at the Milwaukee Domes this weekend I paid attention to their collection of orchards.  They are a lot taller than I thought and I will have to take this into consideration.
   We have around 7" of snow from last week, and are forecast to get about that much more tomorrow.  I decided to take my work home with me.  While I can drive just fine in winter conditions it doesn't seem anyone else can.  So rather than fight traffic I will simply work from the basement.
Cold Breakdown

Cold Breakdown

   Temperatures have been plunging and this mornings ride was slated to be a personal record breaker.  Turns out the official weather report would have only tied this ride at a solid -9°F/-22.8°C although Middleton was reporting -10°F/-23.3°C when I departed.  However, the ride was not to be completed.
   For riding in cold weather one's first thought is to bundle up.  This is partly the case, but too much clothing will result in sweating.  When temperatures are below zero sweat is dangerous because it can wick away from the hot area and freeze.  So riding is a balance of putting on as much as need which is as little as possible.  Today's outfit:
  • Light cycling shirt.
  • Cycling jacket.
  • Heavy wool socks.
  • Chemical heaters on toes.
  • Neoprene cycling shoe toe covers.
  • Neoprene/fleece cycling full shoe covers.
  • Fleece lined thermal pants.
  • Nylon balaclava.
  • Neoprene face mask.
  • Ear muffs.
  • Winter riding gloves.
  • Neoprene handlebar covers.
  • Goggles.
   Sadly, I only made it as far as the trail where Old Middleton meets University.  Shortly before Locust Drive I started getting a lot of tire noise.  At first I thought my rear wheel had become misaligned and was rubbing against my fender.  It was worse than that.  My rear rack had lost the screws mounting it to the frame and the fender fell on the wheel.  I tried to move the setup to inspect it and the plastic fender, brittle of the cold, snapped.  There was a grocery store about two blocks ahead and I limped my way there.  After inspecting the bike in the light I determined I had no ability to fix this in route.  I had to call for a ride.
   I typically listen to music while riding but my phone has been doing this stupid thing were it suddenly turns on Google Assist for no reason.  This often shuts down my music and it takes interaction with the phone to start it back up.  When this happened I imply stopped listening as I didn't want to take my hands out of the protective handlebar gloves to make adjustments.  Turns out shortly after that happened my phone shutdown and would not turn back on.  I had to go inside the store in order to warm the phone.  I called Pokie who was already waiting for me at breakfast and she set out to pick me up. 
   By this point in my ride I was well warmed up.  I didn't realize how cold it was outside until I went back out to lock up my bike and get my change of clothing.  Just a few minutes of time indoors and going outside was very difficult.  After breakfast I was taken home to get my car.  I finished the work day and then went to the grocery store to get my bike.
   Today I was defeated, but I failed gracefully.  Temperatures were very cold, but I had planned for problems.  In addition to what I was wearing I also packed:
  • Heavy winter coat.
  • Pair of pants.
  • Heavy balaclava with Neoprene face mask.
  • Heavy leather mittens.
   Should I have not been so close to a warm place I could have put on the additional clothing while I walked somewhere.  My bike does lock up and I could have called a cab if needed.  Since I ride through the city there are a lot of businesses I could stop.  While I'm not pleased about having a breakdown, I am glad it was as painless as it was.
   Worked from home today.  At lunch I went out with Pluvius and James to take advantage of restaurant week.  Pictured is my desert from the place we went.
   I ordered a Pine 64A with 1 GB of RAM and gigabit Ethernet, and it arrived the other day.  I setup an SD card with the OS and today did a bit of testing with it.  Seems the Ethernet can sustain 350 Mbit/sec of SSH traffic which is around 40 MiB/sec.  Next I want to see what kind of power draw the device has.  Sadly, it is only used Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.  I was hoping it would be on 18.04 LTS.
   The trip into work this morning start at -7°F/-22°C.  By the time I got to work it had dropped to -11°F/-24°C.  Once there I found my coworker in the front of the building looking for something.  Turns out he was looking for a list of emergency building contacts.  A connector on a water filter broke over the weekend flooding a portion of the building.  I found a shutoff valve and then a couple of us spent the morning with some wet/dry vacuums sucking up pooled water.  The building maintenance person arrived and quickly brought in a crew to start repairs.  I wasn't aware just how much work is involved.  After sucking up more of the water and removing everything from the floor so it could be dried, they started taking off edge trip and taking out drywall along the bottom edge.  Then the whole area was covered with plastic so it could be properly dried.  With how loud it was and a pending snowstorm forecast for tomorrow afternoon, I decided to work home.