House sitting for three weeks; a load of clothing for two people, a computer, some books, and tools allowed me to dust off my panniers and pack them full. I rarely require additional capacity beyond my Carradice saddlebag, but it’s nice to have the option. I rode the Chester Creek Trail, across Westchester Lagoon to the Coastal Trail, and a brief singletrack section “home” through Earthquake Park. I strapped one pannier tightly to the rack, and left the other to it’s own devices, literally. I recall what a bother it is to feel panniers jostling about behind me, and to listen to them rattling. Basic nylon gear straps– my favorites are the ones from REI– are the best solution.
Two inches of fresh snow over hardpack is great riding. Five miles across town, I only saw two skiiers and a biker– no traffic.
Playing with the Photosynth app for iPod/iPhone, stitching together photos to capture broad vistas which can then be edited to traditional panoramas.
Clear skies and a full week of zeros from the weatherman changes the game. Soaking down jackets from inside-out, sweating inside shoes, and icing neckwarmers in layer after layer of iced breaths are hazards of cold-weather activity. Some lessons from the first week: breathability counts, and down becomes useless without a vapor barrier beneath, and hands and feet can never have too much help when riding a bike in the cold. Gaiters are great, and help keep dusty snow-spray from the front wheel out of my shoes and off my shins. They make me look like a horseman, like Viggo Mortenson in Appaloosa, on a Pugsley; Lael wears a snowboarding helmet and looks like a Power Ranger. In sum, an arctic metal-cowboy and a cycling Power Ranger.
Plastic-bodied pedals and balaclavas would help the feet and face from freezing when the bank sign says -13F. Other measures may be taken, but measures tend to cost money, unless I can get my hands on a sewing machine. Thinking about stitching up some insulated pogies.
Note: Gary Blakley, of the seasonally frigid Del Norte, CO suggests these $13 pogies from Amazon, designed for ATV operators. Local producers include Dogwood Designs, availaible online from Revelate Designs as well as local Alaska bike shops and outdoor stores including REI; Apocalypse Design of Fairbanks manufactures a line of Arctic gear and Bike Toasties, their version of the pogie.