We went to Florida.
Yep, intrepid winter bikers. We cheated. While you trudged through the poorly plowed and pothole-ridden streets of Chicago, vying for shoulder space with aggressive and oblivious drivers, we wallowed in Florida sunshine, pedaling for many miles on impeccably groomed off-street trails, and were greeted kindly and given the right of way by smiling, unhurried drivers, wherever the trails happened to intersect a roadway.
On a very, very cold December day, I believe the radio said it was -6 degrees, Chris packed up our van. I was going to do it myself, since I generally don't approve of the way he packs the car any more than I approve of the way he loads the dishwasher (OK, fair enough, that's another story), but I was unwilling to brave the elements that day, and he was. Here he is: Gore-Tex, goggles, layers, nary an inch of skin showing, thick clouds of steam emitting from his mouth. Let him pack!
We drove for many miles through spectacularly beautiful midwestern countryside, shrink-wrapped in ice after a recent storm, which gradually gave way to dry, barren woods of southern Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, and started to green up someplace south of Atlanta. We stripped off our layers, and on the second day of our trip, we enjoyed a cold lunch at a rest area wearing short-sleeved t-shirts.
We had two recumbent bikes strapped on the roof of the van. We find that we feel less guilty about taking these vacations when we can justify them as a way of doing some important research for the shop. In this case, the research involved exploring the handling characteristics of different recumbent bikes, comparing levels of rider fatigue on upright vs. recumbent bikes, evaluating the relative merits of on and off-street biking facilities, and assessing the impact of dedicated biking facilities on local economic growth.
I will endeavor to bring you the results of our rigorous research in the next few days, as soon as I recover from being back in the snow-shrouded Chicago.