Sometimes you have to do something outside of your comfort zone, just to prove you can. After being subjected to a continuously brutal winter of snow, ice, wind, frigid temps, and drab skies while commuting by car, I decided that at least once I need to commute during one extremely cold days during a polar vortex. I have already bike commuted four times in 2014, but each day thus far was comparatively mild (20s and low 30s) to most of this winter. Today (February 25th), we are amid the grip of our third foray into the vortex. On the positive side, at least it was a sunny early morning.
So, off I went on my trusty dark-gray steel steed in 8 F temps. Several years ago I had bicycle commuted in temps as low as 14 F, so single digits were uncharted territory. Aside from the unwelcome smooth ice patches hidden under a very light dusting of snow and one small downed tree across the paved bike trail, the 1.5 mile ride to work was largely uneventful. Was it cold? Of course. Was it bearable? Yes. The only real problem was my glasses kept wanting to fog/ice up from my breath. Otherwise, I was largely dressed appropriately.
On the return trip home, it actually felt colder because the winds had picked up and the skies largely had become overcast.
Would I bike commute in such temperatures again? Probably, but I will admit the conditions would need to be appropriate – any noticeable wind speed intensifies the cold, let alone added chill you get from the faster pace you are moving compared to walking. All in all, I was proud of myself for accomplishing the commute. Whether I will attempt a below zero commute someday remains to be seen, but I do like to test myself in difficult conditions every now and then.