Biking in the cold: one woman’s adventures

Those of you who live in places where it actually gets cold, like routinely below freezing, will probably roll your eyes a little at this, but that’s okay:) Because this winter I’ve had the chance to appreciate the fine art of being outside in the below-freezing, and what that all means when you’re on a bike.


oaks-bottom(other than the simple fact of more treacherous biking, I mean:)


For one — and yes, I know this is super obvious if you stop to think about it, but still — I learned that water bottles do actually freeze. I mean, I’ve had water bottles turn slushy and icy before, even mostly frozen, but this past Friday I had both my water bottles turn to solid ice within the span of 40 minutes spent biking — which was less than half the ride. So, valuable lesson: if you still want to be hydrated when it’s frozen out, put your water against your back or something.

Also, relatedly, fun story. That same bike ride, I was heading to Vancouver, WA to meet a few people for a hike. I had a water bladder (think Camelback) that I intended to use while hiking, which I put in my pannier for the bike ride portion of the morning. Unfortunately, I forgot that that water bladder leaks hardcore when it’s horizontal, so I lost about half the water, about a liter, to the bottom of my pannier.

Normally that would be a humongous bummer because it would drench everything in my bag, but in this case the cold worked in my favor: the water, once out of the bladder, basically froze immediately. Rather than getting everything wet, it just froze into a solid ice cube at the bottom of my bag, and the only casualties were the extra pair of gloves I brought with me, which froze solid into the ice cube and which I had to pry out of the bottom of my pannier.


frozen-gloves(brr! Not so helpful as an extra pair of gloves this way;)


But enough of that. This weekend, I also learned that bike locks can also freeze. And if they’re locked around your bike when they do so, that makes things a little difficult. I thought it might help to pee on it (warm liquids, right?), which I of course did not do because this was at the farmers market and that would have been indecent; instead, I basically blew hot air into my lock until I could get my key to turn inside it again. Which I’m sure also looked a little indecent (or at least a tad strange), since I was basically french kissing my bike lock until it thawed. I’m not sure if that’s a valuable lesson yet, or if one of y’all wants to give me a better solution;)

Anyway. Good times in Portland, where it’s been much colder than I’m used to. Today, back to the rains, but it’s been a pretty fun stretch of abnormality.


  1. Apporte des allumettes. (Très petit, prend pas de place.) Si tu fais chauffer la clé avec une allumette, elle rentre dans le cadenas. Ou dans la voiture. Même chose. :-)

    • Heh. When I translated this for James, he said, “wait, you know that nobody carries matches anymore, right?” ;) But I imagine a lighter would do the trick, too;)

      Funny, I could totally whip out one of my backpacking “10 essentials” (fire starting!) to rescue my bike from the clutches of a frozen lock!

  2. Looks like it’s high time to invest in an insulated water bottle!

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