Monday, November 17, 2014

Weather, Android and Gearing Up

Another beautiful morning. This is around 9:00am on Sunday morning which is about 40 minutes before sunrise. At -5°F, it's a bit cooler than was originally forecast. Lot of errands that needed to be run as I am in the process of installing a new dishwasher. The original builder must have not been sure where the dishwasher and sink were going to be installed as the hot water supply line for the dishwasher and the cold water for the sink came through the floor underneath the dishwasher. The new dishwasher has no room for such things. But after an afternoon of playing amateur plumber, the pipes are all rerouted. I still need to run a new hot water line for the dishwasher, maybe later today.

On Saturday morning, I had ridden to College Coffeehouse and it felt kind of chilly. When I returned home, I checked on my Nexus 4 (the "Barrow phone") using the Google "Weather & News" app to see what the local temperature was and it claimed 18°F. I then checked on my iPhone and got the more realistic temperature of 1°F. Even though Google puts up the Weather Channel logo, that must not be where they are getting their data as the Weather Channel app agrees with my iPhone. I think I like Google's temperature better...

The Apple iOS app, by the way, also claims to use the Weather Channel indicated by the logo on the lower left. The university temperature sign claimed -4°F at about 10am.

A few comments about Android. I had not even powered on the Nexus 4 since it was returned to me at the end of the summer field season. After charging, it updated itself from 4.4.2 to 4.4.3 to 4.4.4 to 5.0. I thought that the iPhone went through a lot of updates. The only problem with the phone is that it doesn't work well as a phone due to a non-working microphone. I think I heard that it went on a short trip through a washing machine a couple of summers ago. The tech last summer used it with a Bluetooth headset. I think I'm just going to replace it as the price of the unlocked phone on Amazon has dropped considerably since the Nexus 4 had first came out. And there are no 4G data services in Barrow. BTW, Android 5.0 aka "Lolipop", is pretty nice. Almost nice enough to convince one to switch from iOS. But battery life still seems to be lacking.

Inspired by Steve Williams of Scooter in the Stickspost about how much hassle it was to get ready to ride in colder weather. This morning, I timed the ritual of getting ready.

  • Head out to the garage already wearing the Gerbings liner
  • Put on Roadcrafter Light
  • Plug in Gerbings controller into the liner
  • Put in earplugs
  • Put helmet on either the Nolan 104 or Bombardier Modular 1 depending on temperature
  • Open the garage door
  • Start the Ural
  • Optionally turn on the heated grips
  • Plug in the heated gloves to the wiring built into the liner
  • Plug controller into the coiled cord that I leave on the bike
  • If it's below 10°F, put the breath mask on for the Bombardier helmet
  • Back out of the garage - total elapsed time 1 minute 45 seconds without rushing
  • If it's cold, I'll usually let the Ural warm up for a bit
I think the key difference is the use of the heated liner. Instant heat, no layering needed and the glove wiring is built in. The collar of the heated liner is tall enough and is also heated so my neck is toasty warm. I've never needed a balaclava. If it's below -10°F, I'll add a fleece liner over the heated liner. We'll see how well this works this year as I feel the cold more on the Ural than on the Beemer.

If I'm just going on a short ride, I'll usually dispense with the heated gear and Roadcrafter and just wear a riding jacket such as my old Kilimanjaro or a denim riding jacket over a fleece liner and insulated gloves. Not due to time but more hassle dealing with the bulk of the Roadcrafter when I reach my destination. Carhartt lined jeans are worn for most of the winter and they seem to do a good job of blocking the wind.


  1. Richard,

    As I read your prep list I could not help think "space walk". For all the riders whose only prep is to put their sunglasses on the thought of all this stuff is probably pure insanity. Add to that the "if I don't look good, I don't do it" crowd and it's easy to see why there are so few people riding in the cold weather.

    Oh, and the ice thing. Don't want to forget that.

    I love the idea of a heated liners and toasty neck. Unfortunately the Vespa doesn't generator output to support that.

    So I'm riding rough.

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

    1. I like not having to think about running out of alternator power with the Ural. I think it's almost 800 watts.

      And that ice thing, that was the main reason I looked into a sidecar in the first place.

    2. Damn you're fast! Though I think I am slowing down.

      Put on boots;
      Lunch in the topcase;
      Down jacket liner on;
      Ear plugs in;
      Buff over the jacket collar pulled up to cover mouth and ears;
      Sunglasses on;
      Riding jacket on;
      Mount the bike;
      Side stand up;
      Zip the riding jacket up over the Termoscud bib-thing;
      Skull cap on (to ward off helmet hair);
      Helmet on;
      Sena on;
      Visor down;
      Back out of the garage;
      Total elapsed time: 5-8:00 minutes.

    3. Oops, gauntlets on... I guess no one was thinking I'd be out in freezing temps without gloves.

    4. I think not having to deal with stuff like the muff, cap, sunglasses or the bib-thing makes it faster. The RC is maybe 15 sec tops and I'm all geared up. Add helmet and gloves and I'm ready to go.

  2. Richard/Steve ... it's not about how good it looks, it's all about the time it takes (I'm basically lazy) if it takes that much time to gear up it better be for a good long ride! (That's the reason I don't commute by bike even in good weather - 15 minutes to gear up for a 30 minute ride, not worth it!) Richard, hope the ride was worth the time it took to get into the gear. (As for ice, I can do without it on four ... let alone three or even worse 2 wheels.)

    1. Gearing up takes less than 2 minutes even with the cold weather. Summer is probably under a minute from walking into the garage and leaving the house. Leaving work is even faster since there's no garage door.

    2. Richard you are going to have to give me some dressing tips ... I can't seem to get ready in under 15, and I don't even have a garage door!

    3. For me, the Roadcrafter one-piece riding suit is key. Put it on, two zippers, add helmet and gloves and I'm ready to go. Without heated gear this is well under a minute.

  3. Very pretty sunrise.
    I had my commuting routine down pretty good, and it didn't take too long. (not that I had anything like the temps you have). It was a fair trade off for the amount of time I spent on the road.

    1. I really like our winter sunrises. Almost every morning I want to take a picture.

  4. This has nothing to do with your post, but thought you would enjoy this photo:

    1. Thank you for the link. Not really sure where but it may more likely be in the Whitehorse/Skagway area. The Alaska railroad runs were pretty short and used smaller engines. But I'm no expert.

  5. I really don't like wires. The hardest part in my gearing process is the riding pants as the lined jeans I've used are thicker than normal jeans. I think I've used my heated vest less than 3 times the last three years. Layers, several, work for me. Of course, the coldest I've ridden in so far this season is 0F which is balmy for you AK types.

    1. It took me a while to get convinced of both heated gear and the one-piece riding suit. ChrisL mentioned the warmth and convenience of the heated liner and Troubadour demonstrated how much the Roadcrafter simplifies suiting up. It really is simpler and faster than separate riding pants and jacket. Not 10 seconds (as shown in their video) but not more than 20-30 depending on whether you need to plug in the heated gear (on the inside) to the controller (on the outside).

      I use the lined jeans as well through most of the winter. Much more comfortable and the additional bulk is easy to deal with with the RC full length zippers.

      I think my coldest is -25°F but my feet started to feel cold on that ride. With the heel-toe shifter, even bunny boots are useable!

  6. Rerouting plumbing. I think Brad calls that playing with tinker toys...seeing how things fit to get where you need them to be. Always takes at least 3 trips to the store too.

    Your temps make me want a big mug of hot coffee. We woke to 24˚F this morning. A chilly wait for the bus.

    1. I usually enjoy playing with plumbing but in this case I didn't want to cut through the floor and subfloor. This made it a challenge. But it's all done now and the first run of the new dishwasher was yesterday evening (no leaks!). The new one is quieter than a small fan...

  7. I could spend the evening just staring at your header... stunning, blinding. Like it!

    1. Thank you! And the nicest part is that it's getting easier and easier to get out and about before sunrise. I think it's around 9:45 now.