Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lubbock on a Bike: Winter Materialism

The ride to work definitely had Jack Frost nipping at my nose, my wrists, and one ear this morning.

Winter crept back in. I should have known it when my clock fell back. It's dark when I leave for coffee. It's somewhat dark when I leave for work. And holiday traffic is picking up.

My ride to work was cold this morning. The loose fleece jacket and the mechanic's gloves were just not fighting the cold. And my right ear was complaining too.

So, this guy who has been working more at wanting less stuff is wanting a lot of stuff.

I want winter bike commuting gear.

I want to be seen. I want to be warm. I want to arrive at work relatively clean and dry. I don't want to add lots of extra time getting ready to ride. While I'm thinking of it, I also want the bike to have more cargo capacity. (I don't want much.)

Let's start with the first two.

There's a movement in the biking world that says cyclists don't need more safety gear, that we should stubbornly fight for better bike lanes and more respect from car drivers, that we should not be forced to wear helmets and bright colors just because a few car drivers are morons inattentive. And that all sounds pretty good in theory.

On the other hand, there is Newton's Second Law of Motion; you know, that's the one about mass and force and acceleration. In Mesquite Hugger terms, the bigger and faster a thing is, the more that thing is gonna hurt when it hits you. I don't care so much what the law is and how much my rights as a cyclist are being squelched; I care about being seen as much as possible and about protection when I get knocked over by things that don't see me (like potholes and Suburbans). I care about arriving home safely each day to kiss my lovely wife and throw the ball for the somewhat-less-lovely dogs.

So I broke down and spent some money today - a neon orange wind jacket with reflective accents and piping, a pair of touchscreen gloves (who knew?) with reflective accents, and a cheap but very bright LED bike light.

I still need to find some better headgear (ears, eyes, and head) but we are making progress. And it still beats the heck out of driving a car (or small truck).

May you be warm, safe, and green (or fluorescent  orange). And may we be watching out for each other.