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Free Form Friday | 2 | Cold Weather Biking in Albany

This is the second in a series of non-Bowie related posts that I intend to make a regular Friday feature

The theory is that people ski in cold weather, so there has to be a way to dress to bike in cold weather as well. And so there is. Biking is one of my favorite things to do, and serves me both as a source of exercise and transportation. But I would much rather bike when its 80 degrees and sunny. Sadly, that’s not going to be the case in Albany for another half-year or so.

From a biking standpoint, though not from a climate change standpoint, Albany, NY has experienced agreeable temperatures this year more or less up until yesterday Actually, I’m writing this on Thursday, in writing “today,” I mean the day before the date this posts. Hopefully, I will have been able to ride in “today” (tomorrow, from when I’m writing). But not today— cold won’t stop me, but wind and sleet (ugh— sleet) will stop me. But today feels like a turning point. I was walking in the woods in a tee shirt even a few days ago, but I have a feeling that’s not going to happen again until Spring.

So, except for when its snowing or sleeting, or there’s still a lot of ice on the roads, I can still bike to work, for both exercise and transportation. It’s much less boring than doing my exercise bike in the basement. Most years, I’ve been able to bike to work every month, but it’s no longer fun once the temperature turns, as it has. Now I take the shorter, less scenic route to work. And I don’t take the weekend ride to the Grandstand, a seasonal ice cream and hamburger stand about 9 miles from where I live.

The cold isn’t the only thing that makes biking in Albany less fun. The roads, for the most part, are in terrible shape. The major exception are the excellent bike lanes on either side of Madison Avenue that stretch for about a quarter of the distance home. Otherwise, the shoulders are usually both riddled with potholes and/or strewn with debris. Add to that, the bad drivers of Albany and Daylight Savings Time, so my ride home is not just cold and bumpy but also dark and it’s like Albany doesn’t want me on my bike.

OK— the bad drivers of Albany: I think of them as falling within one of four quadrants. Think of two axes— one set of poles indicates drivers who are either considerate or inconsiderate and the others are either aware or oblivious. The aware, inconsiderate drivers yell, “get off the road,” try to scare me (into crashing, I guess), or, rarely, try to cut me off or even hit me (it has happened). And you’d think these guys would be the worst. But they are not the worst. The worst are the aware, considerate drivers. These are the guys who are aware of me, stop and try to wave me on to cross the street. But if they are paying attention to me, they are not paying attention to the car coming up from behind that can hit me if I cross the street like they want. I try to stay out of the way of the first group and just ignore the second.

The unaware, considerate drivers are totally unpredictable. They are trying to be polite to other cars, pedestrians, chickens crossing the road…something other than me. Give me a guy shouting, “get off the road” any day ahead of the unaware, considerate driver.

The best of the quadrants are the unaware, inconsiderate drivers. These guys are all about themselves. They aren’t doing me any favors, but they are predicable. They are trying to get from one place to another and that pretty much tells me what I need to know to steer clear.

So Albany is not a bike-friendly city. There’s the lane that disappears in the middle of the road, right before an intersection. There’s the other bike lane that goes between two lanes of car traffic. There’s the absence of bike racks. And did I mention the pot holes and debris?

But I want to be on my bike. While it’s probably inaccurate to say that I look forward to biking to work in the coming months, I am certainly determined to do so, as often as I can. There’s no larger point to this post except that I’m girding myself for what’s to come.

So, bring it on, Albany!!!

So, I’m of course illustrating this post with Queen’s “Bicycle Race,” but it’s just an audio recording. The official video features nude, female bicyclists and is censored by YouTube. So you’ll have to settle for just hearing the song, which is probably for the best if you are actually on a bicycle.

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