I learned the power of air pockets. My base layers have always been close to the skin, but I discovered that loose fitting layers over those provide pockets of air that mean extra warmth ... everyhwere: a quarter-inch air pocket at the end of my fingers, an oversized pair shoes or boots, baggy pants and a loose jacket.
I also discovered that an even stroke (push-pull) gets you through deeper snow better than an uneven (push-push) stroke.
I learned I hate rollers and trainers so next year I'm buying a fat bike!
This was my first winter bike-commuting in Chicago, so I learned a lot.
The air pocket thing - yes, definitely. My hands were warmer with my lobster gloves than with my five-fingered gloves; and I quickly learned it was better not to try to layer a "liner" glove under the lobsters, either (though I think that might have been more of a circulation thing than "air pocket" as such).
I learned that I could tolerate quite a bit of cold in my extremities if I kept my core well-warmed, and that keeping a good effort level going throughout the ride was essential.
I learned that managing air pressure was a very useful way to adjust to shifting road and trail conditions, without needing to rely on tire swap-outs.
Most useful, and perhaps most lasting, was that I learned it really isn't that bad. A cold 54-degree rain shower would have been a holiday back in February.
good points gene. I know that but still put on multiple tight layers. hard to teach an old dog new tricks..
here is what I did learn :
(my new route in the a.m. is Lincoln Ave (from Bryn Mawr) to Wells to downtown btw)
Starbucks all have nice heavy duty blow dryers in their bathrooms
(also so the the McDonald's at Fullerton and Lincoln)
My fingers were the only thing to ever get cold...so I was never more than 5 minutes from a quick
finger de-freeze (and YES; the old frostbite tip of putting frozen hands under cold water then gradually increasing to tepid works) and the nice thing is I can water the hands; warm the gloves and non watered hand all at the same time. very good time economics when minutes are precious in the moarning.
I ALSO leared that is SO EASY to justify stopping at Heritage bikes on the way into work :
-bring bike inside (no need to lock up)
-buy a really good locally made pastry
-splurge on good (again local) coffee
and justify it by saying I am saving circa $5.00 by not taking CTA and saving even more $$$ by not joining a fancy gym. my bike (and the sauna at the work subsidized gym) are all I need ;-)
That the city won't be as good at removing snow and salting streets as they have been in the past. At least not during heavy winters like this last one and especially not side streets. Therefore I learned to be better prepared for black ice and allow more time for my commute.
I also learned that I love wool more and more each winter!
I learned that next year I'm swapping tires for the season. I really missed my old knobbies and may even construct a set of studded tires to have on hand, just in case.
This past winter will mark my first with clips.
If you think tomorrow is a good day to take of those shoes and use the other ones, don't hesitate. Black ice is much more scary when you're clipped.
It was reinforced to me how much I loathe/detest/hate snow and winter and generally any temps below 65 degrees.
I learned that the part of a fender which is covered by a mudflap can get really rusty and corroded without my noticing it.
I learned there are some days I need to take advantage of the CTA. If I'm at risk of falling over from some ice I can't see it's best to just stay off the bike... lest I hurt myself and need to stay off much longer than I'd like.