Today’s chilly ride

It’s that time of year where I post about my cold-weather bike rides. This morning was my coldest ride of the season (thus far) so I’m just sharing a few quick stats and notes.

  • Time of day: 7:10am – 8:00am
  • Temperature: (average) 7°F
  • Wind chill: (average) -6°F
  • Conditions: partly cloudy
  • Distance ridden: 7.75 miles
  • Bike: ’93 Rockhopper with Schwalbe Marathon studded tires, Pedaling Innovations “Catalyst” flat pedals, flat bars with Bar Mitts


  • Head: fleece balaclava, “North Face” stretchy fleece head band, cheap UVEX safety glasses, helmet
  • Torso: Arm warmers, merino wool t-shirt, thin synthetic long sleeve pullover (“32° Heat” brand), winter cycling jersey (Canari brand), windbreaker jacket
  • Legs: Performance Triflex winter cycling pants
  • Feet: Wool hiking socks, cotton boot socks (top layer), Keen hiking boots with fleecy warming insoles
  • Hands: Gore-tex windproof cycling gloves with inner liner

This setup worked really well for about an hour of riding. I frequently have had issues with cold toes in the past, and adding insulated insoles to my boots seems to have really helped with this. I won’t say my toes were warm when I arrived at work, but they were not freezing either, which is an improvement over past rides I’ve taken in similar conditions. In lieu of wearing two layers of socks, I may consider buying a pair of more heavily-insulated wool socks for cold-weather cycling only, and seeing how they work out.

The cheap UVEX safety glasses also seem to be a winner. When I wear my regular cycling glasses with the balaclava, they have to go underneath, which allows more cold air to get in around my face (making descents a bit unpleasant). They also fog up constantly, so I end up sliding them down my nose so I can see, thus defeating their purpose. The safety glasses fit over the balaclava, and my helmet straps hold them in place. I did not have nearly as much trouble with fogging today, although based on what I wrote last year, the extreme cold may have had something to do with that. I’m curious to see how the safety glasses do in more moderate conditions.

I want to pick up a vented balaclava to replace the one I have been using. It seems to be plenty warm enough, but my breath condenses on the inside and then freezes. While this is not as uncomfortable as it sounds, I think a mouth/nose vent would eliminate this problem. Today, I also added a fleece headband, which I think helped a bit with air infiltration.

Two issues I have noticed with my bike in this kind of weather: first, the grease in my derailleur pulley bushings hardens up, and they squeak like banshees. Silicone spray seems to be a good short-term fix. Second, my 1993-vintage freehub occasionally “misses”, which is jarring and kind of annoying. The colder it gets, the more it seems to happen. It might finally be getting to time to replace these old hubs. I certainly have gotten my money’s worth out of them.

Top 10 Geocache Finds, 2018 Edition

Once again, I had to make some tough eliminations to trim this list down to just 10. I’ll list the “honorable mentions” at the end of this post. Without further ado, in no particular order:

  • Hyndman’s Mail Path Cache (GCNXM9)
    A classic traditional hide on a mountaintop outside Hyndman, PA, which is due north of Cumberland, MD. This was a great hike in an out-of-the-way rural area, and a great find on a cache that had been lonely for 2 years. It got a couple more well-deserved visits after I found it in July, though.
  • Huh? Too (GC373XV)
    This is a puzzle cache hidden on an island in Liberty Reservoir. It took me quite awhile to get the final coordinates. The challenge was not so much figuring out how to solve it, but rather, where to look to find the solution. Thanks to NCPositronics, I had the opportunity to paddle a kayak on Liberty Reservoir for the first time ever (along with Alzarius, who joined me in NCP’s tandem kayak).
  • Diablo Point Cache (GCFE)
    A December 2000 hide located near the peak of South Mountain, just outside Phoenix, AZ. Quite the adventure hiking/scrambling 5 miles up the mountain in the 100° desert heat, but I came prepared, and lived to tell the tale.
  • USS Midway (a Virtual Reward Cache) (GC7B69J)
    This is my favorite of the virtual reward caches I have found to date. A very well-done scavenger hunt aboard the U.S.S. Midway, a retired WWII aircraft carrier which is now a floating museum on San Diego harbor. A definite must-do when visiting there.
  • Psycho Urban Cache #7 – A Good Day to Die (GCQHBH)
    What top-10 list would be complete without a PUC?? This was a fun urban spelunking adventure just outside Frederick, MD. It was noteworthy in that we completed it in the rain. The stage 1 tunnel was dry when we crawled down it, but after making the final find, we noticed water pouring out of it. I guess we finished in the nick of time!
  • Tarryall (GC18)
    This is the oldest active cache in the state of Colorado, placed in July 2000. I made the drive to it from Golden (just outside Denver) in February, dealing with some really dodgy weather along the way. Again, I lived to tell the tale. As with much of Colorado, the area around the hide is beautiful and bucolic. This find completed my first loop of the famous Jasmer Challenge.
    This is an extremely fun, creative puzzle/multi located in southern Maryland that doesn’t get nearly enough visits. The field puzzle by itself is worth a favorite point, but the hike is just as awesome.
  • The Catoctin Mountain Geology Tour (GC7R9VC)
    An ambitious EarthCache in Catoctin Mountain National Park that features some incredible views and a really nice hike. Definitely not one for the “numbers” cachers. 🙂
  • Extreme Geocacher Challenge (GC4N1EW)
    Another crazy adventure in Middle River, MD that involves doing fun, dangerous stuff. What more do I need to say?!?
  • The Ghosts of DelMar (MD/DE Virtual Challenge) (GC3VJWF)
    You might say that 2018 was a slow year for caching for me, but I did complete a few challenges that I had been working on for a long time. One of them was this one, which requires finds on every virtual cache in Maryland and Delaware. It was quite an adventure going after all of them, but well worth it.

Honorable Mentions (because I couldn’t just leave them out, could I?):

  • The Maryland and Delaware DeLorme Challenge (GCR7CH)
  • Ever changing Island (GC7B7XC)
  • Thousand Steps Cache (GC59AF)
  • DO NOT Release the Kraken: 1 (GC7WA3N)
  • Puzzle Prep – Cryptography (GC5JJ5H)