Scooter in Moncton

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Here we are in November, well into it, actually, and the weather is still somewhat rideable.

A smart rider would wear gloves even in the summer. The idea of coming off the scooter onto the pavement stinks. Even if you're confident in your riding skills, there are other factors which might promote a fall to the pavement, such as unforeseen road conditions, other idiot drivers, etc. It's a lot easier and a lot less painful to replace a pair of gloves than it is to replace a few layers of skin. With the idea of wearing gloves anyway, moving into slightly thicker gloves for cold weather riding isn't much of a stretch. In fact, I rode with my padded cycling gloves (I'm a mountain biker) through the warmer weather, and a pair of Neoprene cycling/paddling gloves that I bought at Mountain Equipment Co-op for cold weather cycling have come in handy for this. I've ridden down to the freezing point with them and they do just fine. A long ride might be too much for them, but the 15-20 minutes it takes me to ride to work is alright. The neoprene gloves also protect the hands from moisture, but not perfectly. Get them wet when it's cold, and your fingers will still go numb. Not good when you rely on your hands to work the brakes.

Colder weather also brings face shield fogging into play. I have a helmet that doesn't have a chin guard, but has the plexiglass face shield. I find it is very easy to fog this shield from the inside with my breath when the temperature falls below 12-13 degrees Celsius. Below 8, it can be tough to get it clear. Especially when it you get down just above freezing. I try to breathe slowly and lightly to keep from fogging as much as I can. Another thing that the helmet without the chin guard brings into play is the chill of the wind on the face. While the eyes and nose are pretty well protected, the chin and cheeks aren't. I usually bring a knit "scarf" (actually, it's like a tube that is meant to be worn around the neck between the top of the jacket and up to the chin to insulate the neck) and tuck it under the helmet sides by my cheeks to keep it in place. This has worked for me right down to freezing, so far, without having to worry about frost bite.

For a jacket, I'm wearing a waterproof coat made by Wilson, the sporting goods manufacturer. It's a lot like a spring coat, perhaps a little thicker. With it being waterproof, it also blocks the wind, and makes good protection against an unexpected rain shower while I'm out. So far, even the coldest conditions have meant that a t-shirt and sweatshirt, or simply just a long-sleeve shirt are enough under this jacket for the short commute to work.

Legs and feet. In the cold weather, often the extremities like feet are the first to get cold. Even the design of the front of the scooter doesn't block the wind entirely. I wear low cut hikers, generally, and they are not as well ventilated as sneakers, so they're working out just fine. My sneakers, on the other hand, are too well ventilated to ride in comfort when the temperature drops. For my legs, I find jeans are fine down to about 8-10°C, but below that, more has to be done, even for short rides. I wear a simple pair of wind pants to help block the breeze and it works just fine, so far. Any moisture in the air, however, will penetrate these, and keep the water close to the skin. A pair of real rain pants would cover this off, though.

So there you have it. Down to zero is more than just possible. I plan to put the scooter away soon, simply because road salt is bad for it mechanically, and ice can be very tough to ride on two wheels. Dangerous, in fact. So winter will take me off it for a while, but I'll keep it going for now, as long as weather permits.


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