Austin, Texas — The weather forecast is the first thing Armand Lanier thinks about each morning. When his alarm goes off, he switches the radio to the news. Will it rain? How cold will it be?
The weather makes a big difference to Mr. Lanier, who rides a bicycle eight round-trip miles daily, four seasons a year, to his job as a counselor for the Texas Rehabilitation Commission. Weather that deters farmers and construction workers -- such as extremes of 13 degrees, or 102 degrees -- doesn't stop Mr. Lanier. The only weather that forces him into his automobile is rain -- the soaking kind or the drizzle that ices down the streets.
Mr. Lanier needs to know the weather forecast before dressing. Dressing appropriately for the weather is important for two reasons: (1) comfort while riding the bicycle and (2) knowing what provisions he must make to look fresh and crisp in the office. As a professional man, he can't dress as casually as a student riding a bicycle to class or as a recreational rider.
In a way, however, Mr. Lanier is a recreational rider.
"I ride a bicycle to work because the exercise is built in," he explains. "I'm going to work anyway. If I jogged or played handball, I'd have to set aside time for them. Riding a bicycle to work satisfies my Protestant ethic of not wasting anything, not even time. And, of course, I save gasoline."
Mr. Lanier has worked out a formula for what to wear, depending on what the weatherman forecasts.
His route guides him along Town Lake in Austin, and the wind from the lake adds a chill factor that he takes into consideration.
When the temperature is below 70 degrees F., Mr. Lanier adds a light jacket over his shirt. His suit coat will be waiting for him at the office. At 50 degrees, he adds a hat, scarf, and gloves.
"Hands are exposed in bicycle-riding," points out the cyclist, "and there's no way to flex your fingers or exercise your hands, so gloves are very important."
When the temperature drops into the 30s, he is wearing "long handles," i.e., thermal underwear. He found that they make riding comfortable, but they become "hot handles" in the heat of the office, so he arrives early enough at the office to remove the long underwear.
He substitutes a wool stocking cap for his hat when the thermometer indicates freezing. He also adds a scarf.
"Heavy clothing is no good -- it impedes my ability to maneuver the bike," Mr. Lanier explains. "So in cold weather, I try to wear light but warm clothing. for example, I wear a lightweight plastic coat with a down lining. The plastic cuts the wind, and the down lining holds in the warmth."
Somtimes in Austin the temperature drops into the 20s and teens. Then gloves alone can't really protect his hands, even the leather gloves with the rabbit hair lining that he ordered from Minnesota, so he adds a pair of socks over the gloves. Also, when it gets that cold, he wears two pairs of socks.
Before going into the cold wind, he rubs his face with petroleum jelly or baby oil.
At the other extreme are the hot summers. In the mornings, the heat isn't a real problem as Mr. Lanier leaves home about 7 a.m. and the sun hasn't had time to do its debilitating and sweat-producing work. At 5 p.m., however, the temperature is at its highest.
"But that's okay," says Mr. Lanier. "I shower at the end of the ride."