Hello friends! I hope you are all keeping well. It was first a snowy and then a very cold week here in Minneapolis. I had a bike commute adventure on Friday, that’s for sure. In the morning it was -17F/-27C with a wind chill around -28F/-33C. With all the right layers and the effort of biking, I am plenty warm. My bike, however, froze about halfway on my route!
In the rear hub there are these little things called pawls that open and close. When they are closed, you can pedal and your rear wheel turns. When they are open, your rear wheel is allowed to be “free” so you can coast. So I stopped pedaling a bit before an intersection at which I had to stop. Therefore the pawls were open. And when I wanted to go, I found they had frozen open so my pedals did not move the rear wheel. Not a problem if my journey to work were all downhill, but since that is not the case, I needed to be able to pedal.
I’ve had this happen when temperatures are below zero before. Usually I can turn my pedals backwards a few rotations and then forwards and I am on my way again. But Friday morning was too cold for this to work. Luckily, I was near a metro rail station with a heated area I could wheel my bike into. After a few minutes, it thawed out and the pedals worked again. But I was only halfway to work and I was terrified it would happen again and I wouldn’t have someplace warm I could thaw my bike. So I called James.
He hadn’t left for work yet and was able to come and get me and my bike and take us to work. The ride home was a warm 0F/-18C in comparison and my bike performed without any trouble at all. There was a wicked headwind though and I was really tired and slow, and about halfway home the inside of my goggles had iced over so much I couldn’t see (what is it about the halfway mark?). So I pulled my face covering up to just under my eyes, and my head covering down to just above my eyes, and kept blowing hot breath up at my face to keep my eyes from freezing. I got a cold headache—like an ice cream headache on steroids—and some tiny icicles on my lashes, but I made it home with no frostbite. Phew.
Today my bike is at the shop where they are cleaning and lubing the hub. It won’t keep it from freezing in the extreme cold, but it will make it less likely to happen. When I called and talked to them, as soon as I said my pawls froze, they were like, oh yup everyone is calling about that right now. So I am not alone! I need some clever mechanical engineer to design a bike hub that will not freeze in sub zero temperatures. Anyone?
At the moment it is a warm 4F/-16C with a -13F/-25C wind chill. I tried an experiment today. I washed James’s new Levis and put them out on the clothesline to dry instead of the drying rack indoors (I haven’t used my dryer in 4 or 5 years). I have heard from older Minnesotans who grew up on farms about putting laundry out to dry in winter. Yes, it freezes, but the freezing dries out the fabric, and when you bring it indoors and warm up the cloth, it’s dry. I love a good and easy experiment! I put the jeans on the line around 9 this morning and brought them in around 3. They were not frozen solid, but they were pretty stiff. I checked them after 45 minutes. They were just a bit damp in a few places. I suspect if I had left them out another hour or so they would have dried. So I will call that a successful experiment! I think next week I will try the towels.
How are the chickens doing in all this cold, you might wonder? The coop is nicely insulated, and we have a heat lamp inside the coop that we turn on when the temperature gets to be around zero. The Dashwoods are experts at winter by this point, but this is the Nuggets’ first and they are not full size yet. They seem to be handling it all pretty well, though they are not happy about it.
I went out yesterday afternoon to take them some treats. It was about 20F/-6C, and when I opened the run door, Sia ran out—freedom! But then she stopped because there is snow everywhere and it’s cold. And she stood there complaining very loudly. All the others came to the run door, looked out and said, nope. I tossed in the popcorn treat and they were happy. Sia, on the other hand, stayed outside and continued complaining.
I know Sia, it’s cold and it sucks. Get it out of your system sweetie. On and on she went. Finally her feet got cold and she came back to the run, still complaining. She went into the run, still complaining, then saw the popcorn, which, since she had raced out when I opened the door, she had missed. She stopped complaining and immediately joined the feeding frenzy.
I’m glad to bike commute all year because it gets me outdoors instead of running from house to bus to work building and back again. But I still spend so much more time indoors than out for obvious reasons. The other day I discovered a YouTube video about a woman in Wales who built her own house and lives off grid.
And then I went down the rabbit hole and found this one about a couple in Missouri homesteading in an off grid tiny home. I think I’d rather the homestead than the hut.
And then I realized this was a regular program! Living Big in a Tiny House.
So many clever little houses! I think I would love living in one, though it would be hard to figure out where to store my bikes and my sewing machine and knitting, and spinning tools and supplies. More than the small space, it’s the simplicity I long for. My house is small (about 1,200 square feet) by U.S. house standards, but twice the size of a tiny house. There is lots of room for things to accumulate even when I am careful. James and I are working on clearing it out but it is slow going. I was heartened to know though that even Emma of the tiny Wales hut has to clear out clutter every now and then. Though I suspect her clutter is a little different than mine. But still.
I went down the tiny house rabbit hole because James and I recently considered moving. That’s a whole other post. I hope to write about it soon.
In the meantime, stay warm and well everyone!
- Online: Earthcraft. We need a new religion. I’m pretty much already a practitioner of Earthcraft. It seems a good way to be in and with the world. But it would be nice to have other celebrants!
- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. I started reading this on my lunch break at work. Why have I not read this before? Carson is a brilliant and beautiful writer.
- Green Dreamer podcast: Vanessa Andreotti, Allowing Earth to dream through us
- The War on Cars podcast. I heard about them a couple months ago and just finished the 2019 season. They are bike advocates in New York but the podcast is about more than New York and bikes.
- Don’t Look Up. If you haven’t seen this on Netflix, do watch it. It is funny, and absurd, and serious. So very serious.