This week is a good time for a winter cycling update and the update is that it’s too cold to ride. That hasn’t happened often. I first started winter riding back in December of 2010 and I’ve kept it up ever since. Every winter and all winter. I even like riding my bicycle in the winter nowadays. It gets me out into the world. Put on enough warm layers and it’s like riding in the summer. Except for a couple of things. Winter riding takes some adjustments and there are a couple of drawbacks. When it gets really cold my legs don’t work as efficiently as in the warmth and ice make for a very bad ride.

Warmth really isn’t a big problem as long as I’m dressed properly. Lots of layers and a windbreaker. Still I have a temperature cut off. If it’s below 20ºF outside I don’t go for a ride. My legs just don’t work well below that temperature. They lose their strength and rhythm. I’ve found that in the cold I have to pedal differently that in the warmth. I have to slow things down in the cold. My legs don’t have that burst of energy that they have in the warmth. I put the bike in a slightly easier to pedal gear and go slow and steady. Everything becomes a little harder but doable. That is until it’s below that 20ºF mark. Then it becomes too hard to bother with the risk.

Over the past seven winters I’ve missed some days riding because of the weather. Usually a day or two here and there because of a snowstorm. I think the most I’ve missed was three days in a row. I usually wait a day after a snowfall for the roads to be cleared before I get out there again. I’ve missed a few days because of the cold but not many.

This winter has been different. It’s been extra cold. I usually cycle in the morning and there have been a few mornings over the years where I’ve been eyeing the thermometer waiting for it to make its way to 20ºF. It almost always does. This week not so much. So far it’s been a week since I’ve been able to ride outside. It’s crept up above 20ºF on some of this days but not until well into the afternoon and well after my ride time. We’re in a deep freeze here in the NYC suburbs.

I used to ride a stationary bike in the winter. I was a warm weather rider like everybody else but I grew tired of the stationary bike. It’s boring to ride one. I still have one though so I pulled it out of it’s stored away spot and set it up to ride. It’s one of those ones with electronics in it so I can set it up for a ride in the park, strength training, interval training, cross training, and maybe a couple of other things. Plus there are level settings for all those things that control the resistance. I really don’t know how to set it all up properly so I’ve switched between them to try and find one I like. So far they all seem about equally boring. Though I’m usually out on the real bicycle for around 45 minutes I set the stationary bike for half an hour. That’s all I can take.

One of the things I’ve discovered about exercising is that in order to do it regularly it shouldn’t be incredibly hard. Back when I was in my twenties I could exercise hard, build body mass, and test my limits as I saw fit. But starting back in my forties (maybe late thirties) things changed. Recovery times got longer and maintaining things got more important than trying to beat yesterday’s score. So now I know it’s more important to be on the stationary bike for half an hour than to not be on it at all. When something is too hard that’s when people stop doing that something. So half an hour it is.

One good thing about the stationary bike is that I can catch upon some TV shows that I wanted to watch but didn’t have the time for. I’ve been checking out “Glow” on Netflix this week as I’ve been on the stationary bike. It’s about the 1980s’ women’s wrestling TV show. It got good reviews when it first came out and I think it has lived up to them. It’s a drama with some comedy in it. It makes the ride go faster too. The first day I was on the stationary bike I didn’t have the TV on. That half an hour went slowly. With the TV show to distract me the time goes by a lot more quickly. I even took an extra “Ride through the park” one night just to burn off a little bit of extra energy as I watched TV.

The stationary bike that I ride on is a Schwinn with a big, wide, and padded seat. You’d think that would be more comfortable than my narrower bike seat but so far it’s not. After a week of riding my butt is less sore but I’m surprised it was at all. I’ve been riding my regular bike for years and years with no seat soreness. It also took a couple of rides to get the seat and pedal adjustments right so there have been physical adjustments to riding the stationary bike as well as mental ones.

As I write this the snow is piling up outside my window. What started out as a predicted one inch has moved on to a predicted six to ten inches. Yep, the storm blew inland. The worst part of it is that the snow isn’t going anywhere soon. We’ve got a single digit Fahrenheit weekend coming up. It’s been so cold that even the couple of inches of snow that fell last week never melted. Not good winter cycling weather. As I look ahead in the forecast it won’t be until Tuesday morning I could possibly ride. That’ll be twelve days without being able to get out on the bike. Unprecedented.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got four new comics.

  • The Walking Dead – 175
  • Birthright – 29
  • Watchvark – 1
  • Paper Girls – 19
  • Check them all out here:

    I like ink. Black India ink mostly. Historically the ink is actually from China but ages ago the English imported it through India so it’s come down to us as India ink. It’s the ink that’s been used by cartoonists and comic book artists since the beginning of the medium. Drawings are made in pencil and then redrawn in ink. The ink reproduces better than the pencil. At least in the olden days.

    I’ve used a lot of different inks over the years. Back in the early 1990s, when I was just getting started learning to draw in ink, I bought a whole bunch of different inks and made a sample chart of them. I drew a grid of about ten boxes on a piece of Bristol board, labeled each box with the name of an ink, and then did some small sample drawings in each box. I used brush, ink, and whatever else I thought of of to make the sample drawings. I thinned the ink, erased over it, and scratched it with a razor. All the techniques I could think of. In the end I liked Higgins T-100 Drafting Film Ink the best. That was my favorite until they stopped making it sometime in the 2000s. Now I jump around from ink to ink.

    I find it’s important to use waterproof ink. Once waterproof ink dries if you get it wet it won’t run or smear. If you get non-waterproof ink wet it’ll run and smear. I’m sure non-waterproof ink has its uses but I don’t have any for it. Early on I accidentally bought a big bottle of non-waterproof ink and didn’t have the money to replace it. So use it I did. It’s not like I’m spilling water all over my ink drawings but there is one wet object that always comes in contact with the ink. My hand.

    I usually try to rest my hand on a piece of brown paper that I put on top of the art but that’s not a perfect system. When I was using the non-waterproof ink and my hand would rest on the art the sweat from my hand would pick up some of the ink. When I put my hand back down it would act like a stamp and put little ridges of ink on the paper. It wasn’t even a lot of sweat either. Just normal day sweat. They were light marks too. I didn’t even notice them at first but then they multiplied over time. Smears built on smears. I eventually abandoned the bottle.

    Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten into colored inks. There have always colored inks around but a lot of them were dye based. That means that they’re not stable and their color will fade over time. I never used them for just that reason. In recent years there have been a lot of new inks on the market. They all seem to be called acrylic inks so I guess they have something in common with acrylic paints. There must be some plastic in them. They also have very dense color that doesn’t fade like dye based ink does. So I’ve bought a few bottle of those colored inks over the last five years or so and have drawn a bit in them. I don’t use the color inks much differently than black ink but they do make drawing look different. Color will do that.

    I made four red and black ink art cards this week. That’s one type of drawing I do with the color ink. A duotone drawing. They’re usually my spontaneous ink drawing type where I don’t figure anything out in pencil first. I grab a brush and ink and see what I can come up with. This week’s art cards were in black and red. I often start with the color ink and then finish with the black ink but not always. With the horned monster and the three figures I started with black and then went to red. With the two head shots I did the opposite. They came out differently because of that.

    When I start with the color ink I know I can block in a lot of color. Since the black is darker than the color I can carve back into the color with some black lines and shapes. Those ones tend to have less black ink on them. The ones where I start with black tend to be a bit denser. The horned monster has lots of ink on it. It looks like I went crazy with the red ink. The three figures are almost made entirely out of black ink. Only their capes are red. More red in the background balances things out but black still dominates.

    The other type of color ink drawing that I’ve done is where I replace what I would have drawn in black ink with a color. Usually a single color. I have a couple of different types of those. The first type are the ones that I recycled some old drawings for. I dug out a couple of my old “Message Tee” drawings, printed out the pencils in a single colored inkjet ink, and then drew over them with the same color ink. I added a lot of different ink techniques over them too. I wanted to go off in a different direction than my “Message Tee” drawings.

    The third type of color ink drawing that I’ve made is the themed one. They’re like my normal ink drawing except there was a thematic reason I went with a color ink. They are part of my goddess series and one drawing was of a fire goddess and another was of nature goddess. As you might guess the fire one was in red ink and the nature one was in green ink. Other than that they’re done like my normal India ink drawings. I pencil them, scan in the pencils, print out the pencils in the same color as the ink, and then get to the brush and color ink to draw on top of the color pencils.

    So that’s what I’ve been doing this week. A little drawing in ink and a little thinking about ink.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got four new comics.

  • Usagi Yojimbo – 165
  • Outcast – 32
  • Savage Dragon – 230
  • The Beauty – 18
  • Check them all out here:

    I had to take a trip to Brooklyn this week for a meeting. I haven’t been to Brooklyn in a while. I used to be there all the time but not these days. It’s always a bit of a pain traveling into NYC. Traveling around NYC isn’t too hard, they’ve got subways, busses, taxis, and bikes, but getting into NYC is always a question. Should I drive or take public transport? Driving is almost always faster and I’m not at the mercy of a train schedule but it’s also more expensive and can be more of a pain in the neck. Traffic and parking are two omnipresent problems in NYC. I decided on the train as I usually do.

    It was the 8:55 AM train from Nanuet that I aimed for so that meant I left my house at about 8:20. I parked and made it to the platform and the ticket machines at about 8:45. I remember a couple of years ago there was an option on the ticket machines to buy a MetroCard and I hoped it was still there. Since I would be taking the subway it would be nice if could get the card in Nanuet instead of in NYC but that option isn’t there anymore. That meant I’d have to stop at another ticket machine once I got into the city.

    The train came promptly ay 8:55 and I got on board. One of the reasons I decided on the train was that I could get some stuff done. I had my small notebook with me and I planned on writing some pithy sayings for my “Message Tee” comic strip. How does one write pithy sayings you ask? You sit there and try to think of them. I don’t find it very easy to write them. Over the last two months I’ve been trying to write a hundred of them so I can pick fifty two of them for next year’s comic. I aimed for about twice as many as I’d need so I could weed the weak ones out.

    Since those pity sayings are not easy to do I find it hard to make myself sit down and write them. I used to write them as I went on walks but for the last year I haven’t been walking much and instead have been doing dumbbell workouts. So I’ve been behind on them and the train ride offered me a good opportunity to get some sayings written. I was on the same train going into Manhattan just a week before and got some stuff written. I was getting some stuff written again this morning but then the train stopped and didn’t start again.

    It was about fifteen minutes into the ride I noticed the train was no longer making any noise and the cars outside were starting to build up at the train crossing. I noted that the time was 9:07. I wondered when we would get started again. The conductors didn’t know what was going on. I saw some flashing police light ahead at the train crossing and wasn’t sure if there was a problem outside or with the train. I could see the cars outside start to turn around and go the other way. I was not feeling confident I’d make my meeting on time.

    I’m the type of person who likes to be on time. I get places early to make sure I’m not late. Even though I knew this meeting was really more of a drop by to fill out paperwork and therefore my being a little late wouldn’t matter it still irked me. Plus it was too much of a distraction for me to think up pithy sayings. It took us until 9:30 to get rolling again and we seemed to be rolling more slowly after that.

    I was still distracted by the fact that I would be late but I managed to get some writing done. It helped that I was on the train with nothing else to do. Plus if I had been driving I would have got nothing done so I was glad I was on the train. Eventually we arrived at Secaucus Junction and I switched to a train that brought me into Penn Station. That’s a pretty painless process as there are no stops between Secaucus and Penn and trains run pretty frequently between the two.

    It was about 10:40 when I arrived at Penn and I quickly made my way to the A train but first I had to stop at the MetroCard machine. I like the old days when all I had to do was go to the subway booth that had a person in it, hand over cash, and get some subway tokens. Now I had to get into this amorphous line with people kind of milling around. There were three machines in a row and the one in front of me opened up so I stepped up to it. I still have no idea if I cut the line or not since there was no clear line but no one said anything to me. I think I spent about $6.10 for two rides. I had to pay a dollar extra for since I wasn’t refilling a card. After the two rides I’d still had a few useless dimes on the card. It all felt like a scam. The MetroCard has always felt like scam to me. Tokens were more honest. You knew what you were paying for and what you were getting.

    I took the A train to Brooklyn, switched to the G at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, walked to my meeting and was out of there by noon. That might have been the only part of the trip that went smoothly. The next train from Penn to Secaucus was at 12:29. Could I make that one? It was a close call but the next train after that one was 1:41. I gave it a try. I hustled to the station and luckily didn’t have to wait too long for the G. I made it back to Hoyt-Schermerhorn and waiting across the tracks for me was not the A train but the C train. The local. Waiting for the express would probably not save me any time so I got on.

    I checked the time and it was around 12:10. I had eight stops to go until 34th Street Pen Station. At an optimistic two minutes between stops that got me there three minutes before my train left. I was watching the clock at every stop as my optimism faded. When I finally arrived at Pen. It was 12:30 and I knew I had a wait. I had brought my pocket camera with me for just such an occasion.

    I spent the next forty-five minutes walking around the streets of NYC taking photos. Usually that’s not a winter activity but I was there with time to kill and so I did. Not a bad way to spend some time. I eventually got a train to Secaucus and finished up my writing in the fifteen minutes at the station there. This left me the train ride back to Nanuet to listen to some music. All in all I lost a couple of races with time but that was okay. I got some stuff done.