A mild winter

Even though we’ve had a mild winter in Minnesota this year, winter is still a season when the great indoors calls to many who live here.

Mild is a relative term.

A meteorologist I was listening to as I drove home last night reported that average temperature so far this month was 10 degrees warmer than the average for January.

There was enough snow Wednesday that I slipped and slid a few times, but didn’t fall. Check out my new backpack. I use it to carry a lined jacket and other items I might need to stay warm.

And temps were still hovering just above or below freezing.

While snow fall is also below average, it still snows enough at least once or twice a week to make road slick — as I found out by being in a fender bender last week.

It snowed again over night Wednesday. I doubt that an inch fell, but it was enough to make me think I should bike indoors (on a bike I have on a trainer in the basement).

Then, as I was about to head downstairs for my ride, I noticed on a weather website that it was 25 degrees with practically no wind blowing.

Being a little late for all the prep I go through to ride outside in winter, I scrambled to get going.

As drove to the Glacial Lakes State Trail parking lot where I leave my car to ride nearby gravel roads, I remembered the roads probably wouldn’t be plowed.

While the city and county plow their streets and roads, gravel roads belong to townships. The townships that own the roads I ride don’t seem to bother with plowing after light snows.

So I took my time riding and tried to stay in tracks left by cars and trucks that had driven down the roads before me.

I tried to stay in tracks left by cars and trucks.

I slipped a bit a couple times but never fell.

The wind was stronger than in town, but it was warm enough that I didn’t have to wear a balaclava.

Actually I was too lazy to stop, take off my helmet, dig a face mask out of my backpack and pull it over my head.

I just let my face go numb from the cold and then the wind didn’t bother me.

I rode for a little more than an hour and then drove home.

Since I was already dressed for the weather, I decided to shovel the sidewalk.

“More character building,” my neighbor shouted as he shoveled his driveway. That’s what he tells me every time we’re out shoveling at the same time.

An avid cross country skier, he hasn’t had the opportunity to ski once this season.

Not enough snow.

I guess a mild winter’s even more annoying for some people than it is for me.

Winter precautions

Temperatures, aggravated by wind chill, are limiting how often I’ll be riding bike in the days to come.

Winter’s arrival doesn’t mean the end of biking, but should cause cyclists hardcore enough to continue riding to stop and think a bit before pedaling off.

I had a problem while out riding the Saturday before Christmas that, while annoying and literally a pain the back, could have been much worse for me if the temperature had been 10 or 15 degrees colder.

As I rode down some gravel roads near Willmar, the armature of my bike’s rear derailleur began jumping back and forth erratically. The same thing had been an intermittent problem during a ride a few days earlier. The guys at Rick’s Cycling had found some string tangled in the derailleur, removed it and did some quick adjustments.

So, on Saturday, I kept riding because I figured the problem would either clear up or I’d be stuck in one gear as had happened on the earlier ride.

Then I heard, and felt, a “clunk.”