Friday, January 21, 2011

Scootering at -21F - PBC#25

It was predicted to be very cold this morning. I was excited for the opportunity to break my coldest riding temp of –12F. I set the alarm for 4:30am so I could get up and get out the door before the sun warmed things up.

The first problem was my digital thermometer didn’t want to work correctly. I put a fresh battery in it and sent it back outside. It finally registered –21.5F!

Still bundled up, I proceeded to move the hippo hands from my Ural to the Super9. My previous cold ride on the super9 made my hands very, very cold. I wanted to prevent that from happening this time as I wanted to go further than 2km.

I put on all the usual winter riding gear except for the boots. I switched to my dirt biking boots instead of the Sidi on-roads. I wanted more ankle/foot protection as there would be a good chance for crashing. I layered up well. According to NOAA skin can freeze in under five minutes at this temp!

The scooter didn’t want to start at first, but eventually got going. It’s funny how picky mechanical things can be at –20F. After a few tries to started right up and I was on my way.

The roads were pretty clear and I was able to maintain about 30mph without too much fear. Per NOAA, –21F at 30mph is about –53F with the wind-chill! I was happy to be completely covered. The hippo hands were working great at keeping my hands warm. I could feel the cold, but I wasn’t cold. It was great being on two-wheels again!

I stopped at my usual outdoor thermometer for this photo:

Scootering at -17F

It’s usually a few degrees off from my house thermometer which is a bit more accurate.

When I stopped to take the photo, I turned the choke off. Big mistake. The bike ran for a minute or so and then died. I couldn’t get it restarted. Even with the choke on. After what seemed like a very long time, my video told me it was only seven minutes, but it felt like an hour, the scoot started back up.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, and I enjoyed empty streets. It was great. Our driveway has some hard, packed snow which was a bit exciting to ride up. I ended up pushing it the last few feet. Lucky for me the Super9 weighs just over 200lbs.

A fun ride, and a new record temp! Enjoy the video!

YouTube Video:


  1. You're crazy! Now you can hope for a nice -30°F day.


  2. RichardM: :) I've been told that before. International Falls, MN was -45F this morning!!

  3. We had -31 according to the temp at the local airport.

    Yer crazy is all I can say.

  4. Kevin: Ah, now you're just copying Richard! :) It was a cold one indeed; the south metro had -28!

  5. And I am getting frostbite just from reading it... man, you are crazy ;-)

  6. I wasn’t sure they ran a relevant program, so I contacted the Betty Ford Clinic and they have agreed to create a special one-off rehab program just for you Chris. They are convinced they can save you from this addiction you have for riding in stupidly dangerous conditions on a scooter with tiny wheels. Please telephone 800-434-7365. They are expecting your call. The other good news? It’s in California where it is nice and warm!

  7. Dear Chris:

    While many reading your most current cold weather achievement are congratulating you, I regard the details of this last ride as a challenge. I propose to ride my K75 at 0º — Kelvin! It is my intention to go for a spin in the kind of cold that stops molecular activity. According to experts, there is a bit of hard-packed surface on the Comet Zerkon, where compacted atmospheric gases are estimated to be 0º (K), all the time. I called NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) yesterday, and they said getting me there was their new top priority.

    The challenge is on. In the meantime, you are the man. Don't get comfortable with the title.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads
    Twisted Roads

  8. The record for crazy may be these folks. Winter on the Dalton to Prudhoe Bay in the winter on motorcycles. Temperatures of -40C and class 3 blizzards. Way warmer than 0°K (233°K) but still crazy.


  9. SonjaM: Danke!

    Dom: Since I am the only sidecar in the PBC, the Ural wouldn't have counted in the competition for coldest ride. I needed to do it on two wheels. Silly. Cold is cold whether on two or three wheels.

    Gary: LOL!! My wife got a kick out of your comment.

    Jack: I accept your challenge, and look forward to your next entry! I wish I had your imagination when writing. Great stuff!

    RichardM: Thanks for the link! Cool stuff!!