Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cycling in Cold Weather: An Admission

Those who know me best are all too aware of how important cycling is to me. Living in a cold climate with dramatic shifts in weather presents me with quite the challenge. Over the course of the last two months, I have learned a few important things about myself that make the prospect of cycling in freezing weather very unlikely.

Example 1: Just over a month ago, I hit the big brick wall of my cold weather cycling tolerance. When I left my house, the temperature was 30 degrees fahrenheit (just a tad below freezing). I was wearing 3 layers on the top, long fingered gloves, a wool snow cap, and long cycling pants. My cycling route was short (just over 2 miles), but it was mostly uphill. Climbs and layers aside, I arrived at my destination with slight hypothermia. I couldn't feel my hands for a good 20 minutes after I was inside, and I spent the rest of the day feeling cold and intensely hungry. Unpleasant doesn't even begin to cover it.
Lesson 1: when riding in weather below 40 degrees, a wind vest is mandatory. It turns out that layers just won't cut it when you are moving faster than 10 miles per hour.

Example 2: Whenever I ride when the temperature is between 40 and 45 degrees, I feel warm enough with layers and long fingered gloves. The persistent headaches, however, are completely new. It turns out that the enamel on my teeth is not as strong as it used to be and cold air against them is causing headaches.
Lesson 2: Either my sinuses need to be clear enough to allow me to ride with my mouth closed or I need to invest in some sort of riding scarf.

::sigh:: None of these changes are fun to contemplate. There is hope, however. Just last week we had a day when the temperature was a 50 degrees. You better believe I rode for the 8 hours or so when we had sunlight.

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