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Winter Cycling: I Just Can’t Like the Cold…

November 2015
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It’s below freezing.  I’ve got three layers on my upper body and I’m comfortable.  My head is merely “okay”, I’ve got a light balaclava on but anything exposed is cold.  My legs and ass are freaking freezing, even with knee warmers over my leg warmers.  Sadly, I didn’t think I’d need my foot covers because my wool socks are so good…  I was wrong, my feet feel like bricks.  Cold. Frickin’. Bricks.

My wife and I are on the mountain bikes so we’re not even moving all that fast.  Still, it’s kinda ugly.  We get 53 minutes in though, better than polishing the leather sofa with my butt – especially after everything I ate this weekend.  That was Saturday…

We’re out Sunday too.  We’re home so I’ve got my foot covers now and my feet are warm.  My legs are cold again.  I asked for a real pair of thermal tights for Christmas, the first time in years I’ve asked for something specific.   Managing the cold on a bike is like trying tamp out a brush fire in high winds.  Hands are cold, new gloves.  Head is cold, new hat.  Ears are cold, new hat with ear flaps.  Core is cold, one more layer.  Feet are cold, merino wool socks.  Feet are still cold, foot covers.  Eyes are cold, actually thought about goggles.  Now my legs are impossibly cold and I have to do something about them.

The truth is, I just hate the cold. Below 35 degrees, I’m miserable. Oh, I put on a good show, but I hate it.

In the end, I’ll keep riding till it’s too icy for comfort – no matter how much I hate cycling in the cold, I hate cycling on the trainer more and as has been usual for the last four years, I’ll keep throwing darts at cold body parts till I finally get it right.  Who knows, eventually I could come to love being cold – but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

In the end, I’ll always suck it up, because there’s one thing I can think of worse than being a little cold and whiny…  Being fat.

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16 Comments

  1. Andy.B says:

    I am all three at the moment. A little cold , whiney and fat. Lol

  2. Tony says:

    At my heaviest I ballooned up to 224 pounds with a 44+ inch waist. The only good thing I can say about that weight is that the cold didn’t bother me. The fat was insulating. Now I am down to the low 150s and am often cold. I wear long johns from October through April. The bad news is that I really feel the cold. The good news is that I can buy my insulation at LL Bean and Eddie Bauer. Strangely, once I get on my bike in the 30’s I don’t have any problem with the cold. My legs generate heat and I wear sufficient layers on top to keep me warm. I am surprised at your suffering. Have you seen my post on cold weather cycling? I wonder if you are missing a layer or have bad layers? I wish you luck. Seems a shame to miss out on all those potentially good rides.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Sadly Tony, I’ve got excellent cycling gear. Top notch, all the way around… I just hate the cold. Never liked it. In my younger days I was 140 pounds, had a 6-pack and absolutely no insulation whatsoever. I think that wrecked me. I’m hoping a pair of thermal cycling tights will do the trick. If not, I’ll just have to live with it.

      • Tony says:

        You know what, how about adjusting your focus before you start out. Think about how much you enjoy riding and that you are about to get another chance to do just that. Corny as it sounds, look on the bright side. Forget all the negativity and just think about enjoying the ride. I know that often when I am riding in the thirty degree range of temps it will flash in my mind that this is just as much fun as riding in the 60’s with only a windbreaker. Maybe it will help. The mind/imagination is a powerful thing.

      • bgddyjim says:

        I’ll kick that around… I do that to an extent, but I tend to look at it from a more derogatory angle. You know, “toughen up your sissy, quit your whining”… Funny thing is, when I can get myself moderately comfortable, I couldn’t care less about the cold. It’s when my legs are stinging that I get negative in a hurry.

  3. Dan says:

    I use wind pants over my tights and that does it for me. I feel your pain my brother! I HATE THE COLD

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    We were out walking yesterday and it was windy. We saw a few cyclists but we just couldn’t imagine it ourselves. Good on you two!

  5. Helena Kotala says:

    Truth!

  6. I’m going out for a chilly ride tomorrow myself – like you, I hate the cold rides, but I hate the trainer way way way more!

  7. ekels22 says:

    When its in the 30’s especially because of the wind in Michigan I get pretty antsy after about an hour on the bike. Riding into the wind you feel 10 times colder then riding with it so its tough to dress right for the conditions. It makes you appreciate the summer when putting on bibs and short sleeve jersey is all you need.

  8. MJ Ray says:

    Firstly, once you’ve a good basic cover on extremeties, the rule is cold feet/hands/head = put another layer on the next bit inward, is if your legs are cold, how the heck is the blood going to still be warm enough to heat your feet?

    Thermal tights are good, as are rainlegs (waterproofs that only cover the upper thigh front) which are surprisingly warm. As with any thermal things, don’t put a thermal layer under a tight layer because most of them need to trap air to work. Embrace the rippling… it’s winter, aero concerns are overruled by staying warm…

    But we’re ending a surprisingly mild November in England. I’m going out at six degrees C prepared for it to get colder and then it climbs to twelve and I have to coast along with my midweight waterproof jacket undone and flapping behind me else I melt… oh well, it’s nicer than freezing and needing the polar fleece!

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