Biking in the heat and humidity of St. Louis summers

In response to my post about my evening bike adventures last week, reader Rebecca posed some questions about strategies for biking in the heat and humidity:

I am struggling with the incentive to get out on the bike after work now that the heat and humidity have found us. I did bike to church on Sunday (2.2mi each direction), but I’m having trouble imagining that 6+ miles to work is possible in this weather. Do you shower more often when you bike in the summer?

I have been reading [other blog posts] about how to bike in the summer, but Chicago and Boston and Canada just don’t have the same smothering humidity + unbelievable temps that I’ve experienced in St. Louis. Do you have any tips other than patterned and dark clothing [for concealing sweat]? Do you have a threshold temp? When is it “too hot” to bike?

I feel a bit sheepish answering these questions as I sit here, hibernating in my air conditioned apartment, having done nothing more taxing outdoors in the past day-and-a-half than walk my son the half block to and from the sitter’s house.

Sheepish, but qualified.  I’ve put in my time as a regular bike commuter in St. Louis for five summers, one-and-a-half of which involved a six-mile each way commute.  Perhaps my summer hibernation tendencies, my shunning the heat and intense sun, make me more qualified — if I can get out and bike in this, so can you, dear readers!

While not usually my thing, the “cycle chic” mentality is all well and good most of the time.  However, St. Louis summers, with humidity regularly well above 70% and temperatures in the 90s (which mean heat indices of 100°F and up) is NOT the time to worry about bike fashion.Continue reading “Biking in the heat and humidity of St. Louis summers”

Savvy [Tri]cyclist

I spent most of Saturday afternoon on my bike with a fellow CyclingSavvy instructor, ground-truthing the route for the Tour of St. Louis that I will be co-leading as part of our May workshop (details and registration here — please join us for a course that will change the way you think about riding on the roads!).*

Given the gorgeous weather, and the fact that I had the entire day to myself since Gabriel was at the garden, I thought nothing of biking to and from our meeting place (Kaldi’s Coffee on DeMun).  Well, I thought nothing of it until after we rode the route for the road tour of mid-county, by which point I had covered the six miles to our meeting point and the ten miles of the tour.

My body said, “We’re finished now, right?”

Um, not so much, given that I was six miles from home.  I went into autopilot at that point, choosing the most straightforward route and slowly pounding it out, bit by bit.

Unfortunately, I was too tired and zoned to stop and chat with the couple heading the other direction on their bikes, riding on the sidewalk and looking thoroughly distressed about the fact that the sidewalk was ending and they were about to have to ride on the road (the very low traffic four-lane road where they could operate their bicycles peacefully and happily in a lane all their own, in reality much safer than their previous location).

Apparently, my regular weight lifting, intermittent mile or two treadmill runs, and casual bike jaunts with Sir did not prepare me for a 22-miler.  I arrived home a thoroughly pooped pup.

No rest for the wicked, though, as I immediately jumped into dinner preparations (stewed tomatoes), knowing that a [garden-tired] Matthew and Sir would be arriving soon.

Turns out I was not the only one who spent a large portion of the day spinning my wheels . . . .IMG_1716

When I wrote last, I’d completely forgotten that my MIL found a tricycle at a thrift shop when she was in Florida in December.  Talk about a pimped ride: metallic pink with chrome fenders and black streamers, plus not one, but TWO bells.  Someone’s riding in style!  (Someone also received his birthday present several months early.)

*Whatever your cycling experience, this course has something for you, as summed up so well in the course announcement email:

Beginner cyclists will learn why sidewalk cycling increases risk, what Missouri & Illinois laws say about bicycles and cyclists, how to signal and communicate with motorists, practice critical bike handling skills, and proven techniques valuable for a lifetime of cycling.

Intermediate cyclists will discover the importance of intersection integration, how to best handle multi- and single-lane roads, strategies for inclement weather, taking advantage of traffic flow, emergency maneuvers, and much more.

Advanced cyclists will fill the gaps in their own understanding of how traffic works, learn how to better manage traffic on single-lane roads, discover how lane positioning actually helps motorists, and many concepts that are difficult to master through self-learning. “I wish I had taken it sooner,” say many of our advanced participants.

Truth and Techniques of Traffic Cycling

In the “better late than never” category, just a quick note for all St. Louis readers that I am co-leading Truth and Techniques of Traffic Cycling, the classroom portion of the CyclingSavvy class series, this Saturday, February 16th.

The course (a $30 value) is FREE thanks to a grant from Great Rivers Greenway, and we have a few more seats to fill.  Registration is required; click here to register now.

If you can’t make it this Saturday, mark you calendar now for the class on Saturday, March 9th.

Whether you’re an expert cyclist who would like to feel a bit more confidant riding in traffic or a newbie just testing out your wheels, CyclingSavvy has something for you.  Don’t miss these great opportunities to expand your bicycling horizons!

Another year, another festival

With the exception of my first summer in St. Louis (when I wasn’t in the know), I’ve been to the Festival of Nations every year.  In 2010, I wrote about the efforts to “green” the festival.

Last year, we deemed it important enough to attend with a seven-week-old.

I can hardly believe he was ever that small — he looks SO different now!  I don’t remember much of last years event, other than the  fact that using the festival “shuttles,” which were school buses, was rather tricky with a big ol’ stroller.  Biking would have been much easier, but we weren’t biking with him at that point.

Our plan this year was to leave immediately from the festival to head to the garden for the rest of the day, so we drove the car, which is probably the first (and hopefully the last) time I used that form of transportation to get there.

In the background are the Nigerian and Iranian food booths, a couple of our favorites from past years, conveniently right next to each other.  Unfortunately, the Iranian booth did not have baklava this year, but the Nigerian booth had our favorites, African honey beans and honeyed yams.

We also tried a couple of new items from the Thai booth: a curry mushroom puff and sweet, sticky rice roasted in bamboo.

We enjoyed sharing the delicious, unique flavors with Gabriel, who was quite happy to dig in to the spread.  It’s crazy how much a year (or two) can change things — from no baby, to a tiny baby, to a curious, active almost-toddler.

We compromised and used their paper plates with our utensils.

After eating, we wrapped up our trip with a visit to the main stage, and Gabriel made friends with the man sitting next to us and jammed out on his “drum.”

The housing hunt comes to an end — Part 2

And now, for the rest of the story . . .

The first part of this saga ended with finding a good apartment prospect.  After not so much deliberation, I wanted to submit the rental application, along with a deposit to hold the place while they processed our application, and be done with this agonizingly long and drawn out apartment/house hunt.

Matthew felt we’d put the time and energy into looking at houses for sale and wanted to make an offer on a FSBO house we’d looked at a couple of times.  I wasn’t excited about the place, but I agreed to make a low offer.

So last Friday morning, I biked over to drop off our rental application and earnest money and Matthew made some phone calls that ended with making a verbal offer on the house.  Because why have just one place to live when you could have a house AND an apartment?

Anyway, the FSBO was an estate house, and since our offer was lower than their asking price, they had to take it to probate.

Having done all we could, we headed out to a local winery for a relaxing stressful afternoon.  In the middle of our wine tasting, the trustee of the estate called back and engaged Matthew in an exceedingly long conversation, the bottom line of which was, he would take our offer before the probate judge but would not argue for it, but if we increased our offer by $5k (still $15k below their asking price), he would argue for it.

Hot, tired, annoyed that Matthew was spending most of our winery trip on the phone, and frustrated with (and physically uncomfortable because of) a fussy, refusing-to-nurse baby, I had no desire to enter into negotiations or increase our offer on a house that I wasn’t all that excited about.  So we said they could take or leave our initial offer, and they later called back to say, “no deal.”

With our new lease start-date still a few weeks away, we went ahead and pulled out the boxes and packing tape over the weekend, making an impressive amount of progress in little spurts here and there.  We started to discuss how we would arrange things in the new apartment.

And then on Tuesday afternoon, the FSBO guy calls Matthew and says they’ve reversed course and will take our offer, if we’re still offering.  For some reason, I’d kind-of expected this and was not terribly surprised.

After a bit of discussion that evening, we ultimately decided that this was not the house for us, even at our original offer price, and Matthew informed the owners of our final decision.

So.  Packing continues and we’ve scheduled movers.  In a few weeks, our almost-year-long experiment in living as a family of three in a one-bedroom apartment will come to an end, and I am ready!

Related posts:
T minus two months
Moving day
Two’s company
We ain’t goin’ nowhere
Am I asking too much?