continues from part I...
I still have the image in my mind of my red hands. They felt like two gloves that are being inflated but, at the same time, crushed by an external invisible force. The feeling was a slightly painful immobility and lack of sensitivity to the touch.
Locking the bike looked futile with such a pair of hands (by the way, did I mention that the vapour from my breath had formed an icy layer in my eyeglasses that partially blocked my vision?) With a sense of urgency I reached for my backpack, searching for the pair of gloves that I usually wear convinced now that the new ones were useless under these conditions.
With the bicycle workshop closed my worry for my hands was stronger than the embarrassment of seeking refuge in the property next door, an Audiology clinic...
The answer to my introduction, "The chain of my bike just broke, would you mind if I take refuge here to warm up my hands" was amazing. They not only didn't mind me staying inside but asked if I needed to make a call and offered to prepare coffee for me, offer that I exchanged for plain hot water.
The fact that not only the receptionists were empathic with my situation, but also the understanding showed by a costumer waiting for his appointment, an old man born in Edmonton, made me realize how extreme was the weather that particular day. In part, I had underestimated what a difference of 70 degrees C with respect to the body temperature can do, but also, as it happens many times, my lack of experience was being replaced with painful lessons.
If my "balloon" hands were hurting while frozen (frostnip is the technical term) the slower recovery of my hands was many times more painful. Small needles were stinging with torturous slowness all around outside and inside my hands.
But the pain eventually subsided and it was time to attend my bike, which I had left leaning against the wall, at the entrance of the clinic. Resolved to lock the bike, the best place nearby was where I had failed before. Having left my backpack at the care of the receptionists in the clinic, now with "fresh" hands and clear eyeglasses, I was convinced that this time I would succeed in my attempt.
When I returned to the clinic I couldn't refrain myself to share with my kind hosts what just had happened saying: "There is no doubt that life is an adventure in Edmonton, if you don't die frozen trying to lock a bike, you die asphyxiated by the gases from the exhaust of a car besides in auto-start" We laughed at this as it was funny and odd that my second attempt to lock the bike had an unexpected extra difficulty. Yes, I succeeded this time and later at night I picked up the bike on my way back home, but why, why if it was difficult enough to deal with the 50cm of snow, the frozen lock and hurting hands, why a car without a driver has to auto-start, delivering all its gases to my face in the middle of my struggle, why? =)
Days later after my little "adventure" the tips of my fingers are still "burned" and lacking sensitivity, with no chance of change while this winter lasts...and of course while I keep insisting on biking after I had the bike repaired one week later.
Now that you have followed this "chilling" story until this end, allow me to warm you up with a bit of humor from real life happenings in Edmonton during Winter...
You know it's bitter cold when...
...when you open the fridge in the kitchen and it feels warmer inside it. =)
When is bitter cold for you? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section below... and keep yourself warm!