I’ve always been one to ditch the road for the trainer when the temp dipped below 45 (F). I figured I was too old for cycling near freezing to matter all that much – it’s not like nutting up was going to gain me anything being a good decade past my prime… Why suffer, right?
I stepped out the door yesterday morning and it felt like a cool summer’s morn, warm enough that I unzipped my jacket. I unlocked my truck, got it and turned the key and turned the heater blower to 1… When the display screen flashed back to home, next to the 5:37 am, the outside temperature stood out. 45 degrees.
I’ve picked up a lot of cool weather cycling gear over the last year, including a vest, a couple of light caps, a long-sleeved jersey and some knee warmers – the vest being by far the most enjoyable of the lot – but everything I’ve picked up was for warmer weather than the mid-40’s I was okay with riding in – or so I once thought…
My Specialized Element jacket is only used when the starting temp is below 35 and the finishing temp is forecast below 50. Tights? I’ve only used them twice so far this year (starting temp at freezing or worse). My balaclava? Once and I wished I’d opted for a cap the whole ride.
Now, looking at this realistically, as a store owner would their inventory, there are several reasons that would go a long way to explaining this change in attitude toward cold weather cycling… First and most obvious is the fact that I’ve upped my game. I’m no longer hanging on at the back (except on Tuesday night) but playing a bigger role in leading out our train – I’m working harder, thereby generating more body heat. Second is the addition of the vest. I simply can’t say enough about how important a good vest was to my comfort in colder weather (a more detailed post to come). The big deal has to be acclimatization though – this is the only thing that explains feeling warm when it’s only 45 degrees when the most strenuous thing that early in the morning was taking a shower. The simple reality is, I’m much better acclimated to riding in the cold this year, because I’ve done it. In other words, cycling in the cold, actually the definition of what I find cold, is relative. Cold is now below freezing, where my cutoff was 45 last year.
I’d be remiss without adding one final note on cold weather cycling… One big factor: Willingness.
This winter was supposed to be nasty according to the Farmer’s Almanac – just as bad as last winter, the worst in recorded history in Michigan. I can normally cycle pretty safely on the road right up until Christmas but last year we’d already had something like a foot of snow on the ground. Never mind temps below freezing, as far as I knew I’m running on short-time here and I knew darn good and well that come February, after two months of turbo training monotony, I’d be seriously bummed for having missed out on any days on the road, even if it was cold outside.
Well, according to a farmer friend of mine, F.A. has changed their prediction and the winter is supposed to be a lot less brutal than originally expected. Even if that’s the case, I’m glad I got to learn this lesson. I’ll be a lot happier come February (and I might even be a little more willing to get out for a few rides through the snow this year).
Bgddy Jim’s cycling in the cold theory of relativity: The harder the ride, the less the cold sucks, the colder I can ride without it sucking. That’s about as good as it gets.
An excellent post about finding solutions rather than mentally staying in the problem…
Advantages of being a writer that appeared HERE:
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