Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Wind Chill Factor ZERO
Today it's the carpool lane for me, which means a quick blast down Hwy 56 East to a super tight right-hander on to the entrance ramp to the Hwy 15 carpool lanes.
I don't like that spooky, paint-slick right-hander at all, and I think every time I lean into it that it's an engineering abomination - a royal screw-up by somebody who had a chance to make it right. See... it's narrow, tight, and of course one of those faceless, ubiquitous, crazy retaining walls is staring me in the face daring me to smack it all the way through the curve. Hey, don't get me wrong: I ain't actually complaining, I just don't like the darned things trapping me into their narrow tunnels... not to mention the coffin cars that back up at the non-carpool entrance ramp, making me (yes, FORCING me!) to lane split to get to the fast track.
But, back to the cold stuff. The commute to Nik Software is on a super-slab that traverses many canyons. Yet even though the concrete ribbon looks rather smooth and flat, there are definite dips through the canyons where the temperature can easily drop 5-12 degrees (according to my onboard thermometer).
And hoo boy can you feel it! One minute you're trucking along at 75mph and reading 68 degrees, and the next few moments you're in the 50's or even lower. I do like the sensation of the off and on coldness - keeps ya alert - but at times have wondered what the heck the actual "wind chill corrected" temperature might be on the commute.
So, I set off to find a wind chill chart to get some data. The Nat'l Weather Service even has a calculator that makes sussing out a wind-corrected temperature easy.
Speeds on the super-slab range from 50mph to an easy loping 90mph (especially if there's a Porsche hot-footing it by!). I plugged in 49 degrees (the highest this calculator would go) and 80mph, which yielded a 36 degree wind chill.
Yikes! At that temperature, frostbite is not supposed to occur for at least 30 minutes; therefore a 20 minute commute should be fine and dandy!
The bike has heated grips, and with last weeks service appointment is now outfitted with a direct-to-the-battery, fused 15-amp socket. That's powerful enough to drive a mini-air compressor or - more to the point - electric clothing. Now that should make future commutes nice and toasty IF I can scrape up the cash to pick up an electric vest! Until then, I'll suffer through (but enjoy) the cold "dips" on the commute.