March 24, 2014

Wintertime Bike Care

Have you ever taken something you love for granted? When I look at my road-salt encrusted bike, I wonder, “How did I let it come to this?!” It’s easy to make excuses for my negligence, because it’s been such a cold winter. After arriving home, I’d rush inside to let my eyelash-cicles melt and leave my bike to rust in the garage, rather than ever taking some time to clean it off.
No excuses - my bike is slowly dying under that coat of sparkling salt. I got some great tips for caring for my bike throughout the winter from Dan Sorger of DBC City Bike Design. I gathered up the supplies he suggested and got to work giving my bike, Madeline, the love a trusty steed deserves.
In the basement and ready for a bath
I set up a work area in the basement where I could wipe down the bike with some dish soap and warm water. Dan suggests using a sponge, because you want to float the dirt and grit off the bike, not grind it into the paint.
Look at the grit that accumulated inside the chain case!
The next step is applying a layer of wax on all the metal to create a moisture barrier and to prevent the bike from rusting. I picked up some car wax from the hardware store and applied it per the instructions.
Looking good!

March 17, 2014

Good-Bye Winter Uniform!

I'm not one to ditch my everyday clothes for anything special simply because I get around on a bike. Still, in the freezing Wisconsin winter, I pile on the necessary gear for warmth: thick mittens, wool coat, winter boots, and even ski goggles, when freezing winds would otherwise sting my cheeks and cloud my vision with tears.

Under this gear, I'll have on some variation of the following outfit: wool skirt, fleece leggings, and a wool or cashmere sweater. Pretty much everyday. 

It's been nice to break out some of my other clothes now that it's warming up some. I'm longing for the day I can trade in my winter boots for my Minnetonka moccasins. Soon!

March 11, 2014

Taking the Scenic Route

Along the Wingra Creek Bike Path

I'm of the mindset that the shortest bike route isn’t necessarily the best route. I often go out of my way to take bike paths or low-traffic roads, but until recently, I never applied this to my commute to work.  

The first half of my commute was comprised of Wingra Path, the Capital City Trail, and some calm residential streets. The second half was dominated by a two-mile section of West Broadway, a four-lane, 45 mph road through Monona. West Broadway does have a bike lane, or at least until it snows. Even with no snow, I rarely see another person on a bike, the lane is littered with debris, cars speed, and semis sweep past me.

Snow and ice in the West Broadway bike lane

I didn’t feel like I had any good options for avoiding West Broadway, because the alternate route added two miles each way, included residential roads not well maintained in the winter, not to mention Pflaum Road, which I couldn’t believe would be any better than West Broadway. Still, about a month ago, I took the alternate route.

First, the extra distance is SO worth the reduction in traffic stress! Second, I don’t mind biking on the snowy, quiet residential streets. Third, I was surprised to find that Pflaum is much better than West Broadway! There are two lanes of traffic instead of four and speeds are reduced in part by schools along the way.

A scenic and snowy route

I’m very happy with my new route and feel silly for waiting so long to try it out!