The Belly of the Beast

I drove through what some might call the heart of Trump Country today; but that would require that Trump, or his support, had a heart. Hence, it was the belly.

Friday: I saw a car window sign that said, “God sent us Donald J Trump…” The rest of the print was too fine to read, so I’ll have to surmise that it said, “…to see if we have the moral strength to resist the temptations of the Anti-Christ.”

A pair of billboards in the Fox River Valley said “Turn America into a Marxist Sh*thole. Vote Democrat.” The accompanying picture was Mt Rushmore featuring Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Josef Stalin, Mao-Tse Tung, and Vladimir Lenin (left to right). Sorry, but I couldn’t take a picture at 70 mph.

I had to go through Hell to get to Heaven, and am now in Peninsula State Park, just outside of Fish Creek. Tomorrow would have been the Peninsula Century Fall Challenge. It was another pandemic cancellation. Since I already had a campsite reserved, and the roads are still here, I will ride the Door Peninsula tomorrow. More to come post-ride.

Saturday Morning: Do people still carbo-load? I did. Half a pound of pumpkin tortellini with pesto (made a few days ago) for dinner last night. This morning a 4 egg scramble with Italian frying peppers, Crimini mushrooms, Cotswold cheese, garlic, and a little more of that pesto for good measure. Toast and coffee. It’s still too cold to want to ride. If I had an internet connection, I’d know how cold. Suffice to say my fingers are chilly typing. Maybe I should have brought the winter tights and jersey after all. And maybe, once I get out of the woods, I’ll be dressed enough to warm up and be glad I’m not wearing tights and a wool jersey.

I contacted the ride organizers a week ago to see if they had a map and cue sheet. They said a map would be printed in the local paper on Friday. I picked up a copy in Fish Creek on my way to the park. No map. Oh, well. The ride might be more fun with no agenda.

Saturday Night: I was dressed just right. I never had to take off the leg warmers or the jacket, or the full-finger gloves. Good thing I had a long-sleeved jersey.

There’s probably a Chevy vs Ford joke in there somewhere

I started north through the park, then onto the state highway, figuring it wouldn’t be busy this early. I rode the highway to the tip of the peninsula (Death’s Door, or Porte des Morts, so named because of the storms that come up unexpectedly, driving ships onto the reef. To a ship’s captain, it probably looks like a sheltered passage between the mainland and Washington Island. There are three shipwrecks in shallow – 25 to 40 feet – water. I haven’t been diving in many years…My certification is still good; maybe time for a refresher course to catch up on the technology, and to find a dive partner.)

Washington Island Ferry

I worked my way back south, wandering back and forth across the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. I looked at a map once. Otherwise I just wandered. It’s hard to get lost on a narrow peninsula – east you run into the lake, west you run into the bay, north you run out of land, south you end up in Sturgeon Bay.

Europe Lake
Summer is over

Lou and Peter Berryman taught me a strange geographical fact about the area. From Rock Island (just beyond Washington Island) you are surrounded by Michigan, even though you are still in Wisconsin. Due north, south, east, or west, you hit Michigan and not Wisconsin.

They also taught me that the town of Poniatowski, Wisconsin, is the geographical center of the northwest quadrant of earth – halfway between the equator and the North Pole (45 degrees N latitude) and halfway between the Prime Meridian and the International Date Line (90 degrees W longitude). Admittedly, this is an Anglocentric view of the world. While the location of the equator is pretty much set, longitude is arbitrary and was set by the English to make themselves the center of the world.

I walked in the sand at Death’s Door, waded in Europe Lake, had a snack in the marina in Sister Bay, and another snack while watching 19 Sandhill Cranes grazing in a post-harvest field. I was able to refill a water bottle at Newport Beach. I wasn’t willing to eat in any restaurants, so the ride length was dictated by how many bars I could stuff in my pockets. When I was down to the last bar, I aimed for home.

I saw two contradictory Trump signs – “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great”. It made me wonder if The Donald has ever explained when he thinks America was last great. If he thinks it’s great now, I wonder what he thinks makes it great – that the police can shoot Black men with impunity, that armed white vigilantes roam the streets, or:

After a post-ride beer in the hammock, a shower, a walk on the beach and through the woods, and a great dinner, I can’t find anything to complain about, Maybe he’s right – America is great.

The park had a lookout tower. They tore it down due to age. The replacement will be wheelchair-accessible via this ramp.
On the left is the top of the ramp. On the right, across the road, is the tower. Right now, it looks like a railroad trestle.

I have sung the praises of Kevin Kinney and Empire Wool & Canvas Company here before. He made my winter bike mitts. This time it’s to sing the praises of his Camp Coat, which had its maiden voyage on this trip. Wool blanket fabric, with a fleece liner, it was the perfect coat to stay warm around the campfire at night.

I celebrated Rosh Hashanah in my own temple – the woods and backroads; the vehicle being my bike. A few days early for the equinox, but not all holidays can come on the weekend. After the fire died down, I walked to an open area to look at the stars. I needed a light to find my way there, but after standing in the dark long enough, the starlight filtered through trees was plenty of light to find my way back.

High fashion at low temperature

…or, how do you stay warm at -30 degrees?

Now that it has warmed up by 70 degrees F (-26 to +44) [think of it – that’s like 20 to 90 degrees in 3 days], we can look back at the cold weather. What does the well-dressed cyclist wear at 30 below?

I can’t tell you, but I can tell you what I wore and what worked. We’ll go from head to toe (head, shoulders, knees and toes, for the younger set).

For the head: balaclava, helmet hat, and helmet. My favorite balaclava is no
longer available. I now have three of them. For cold weather I use a silk one with the face open – keeps the chin and cheeks warm. For colder weather I use a merino wool one with eye and mouth openings. I can inhale through the nose (and through wool to warm the air before it reaches my nose and lungs) and exhale through the mouth opening to avoid fogging/freezing lenses. For coldest weather I use a fleece one. There is no mouth opening. Some exhaled air stays inside it and is directed down toward my neck and chest. Some fogs my glasses. Exhaling forcefully helps direct more air away from the face to minimize fogging. I may join those who wear ski goggles and let you know how that works.

Upper body (from the inside out): silk turtleneck, wool jersey, wool arm warmers, down vest,  windfront “softshell” jacket (thin fleece).

Lower body: bib tights, winter windfront tights, rain pants.

Feet: over-the-calf silk liner socks, neoprene socks, Bontrager Old Man Winter boots (two layers). [Brand name mentioned because this is kind of a small niche and I don’t know how the few other brands out there function.]

Hands: Silk liner gloves, Empire Wool and Canvas bike mitts [brand name mentioned because most “winter” bike mitts are not really made for the cold, and to give a plug to Kevin Kinney, maker of these mitts up in Duluth MN.] Some folks swear by bar mitts/pogies. Since I haven’t used them, I can’t comment.

All photos shot in available light except the last one, to show the reflective stripe on the mitten.

Just to be clear, in “normal” winter weather I just wear rain pants over my work pants and the jacket (plus vest if 20-25 degrees and arm warmers below that) over my work shirt. The complete change of clothes is only for extremes.

Now this, from NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/02/03/684438571/women-who-dare-to-bicycle-in-pakistan