It’s cold here and that’s the straight truth. Yesterday’s group ride was made up of a few hearty, dedicated- or maybe plain ol’ crazy- people who got up, saw the mercury hanging out at 26°F- what am I saying, who uses analog thermometers anymore?- checked a weather website or app, saw that it was cold, and saddled up anyway. The six of us were bundled up with our faces barely showing. We were ready to ride.
Now, this isn’t going to be about how crazy riding in the cold is/was or the merits and hazards of riding outside in below freezing temperatures. That’s a different discussion and one that should involve science and research by people with capital letters after their names- unfortunately that is a group of people that does not include me. No, what this is about- besides the fact that it took longer to get dressed than it did to ride the nine miles to the start of the ride- is the feeling of victory.
Our team kit is great and the technology that went into developing the fabrics is impressive. Still, outside of only wearing a raincoat, it takes some gear to stay warm. Prepping for a cold ride takes a while but will quickly empty the closet. Yesterday I wore: bibs, a long sleeved winter base layer, a thermal long sleeved jersey, a pair of thermal windproof tights, a soft shell vest, heavy winter socks, windproof winter shoe covers, a windproof glove, a cap that covers my ears, and a neck gaiter that makes me feel like a bike riding bandit. Of course I wore a helmet and a critical piece of cold weather gear- sunglasses. These serve most importantly as a windshield than to block the sun. Like many of you, I wear contact lenses when I ride and when a cold wind hits them it feels like they freeze right to my eyeballs. It’s not such a good feeling.
Once on the road, it was like riding through a cold ghost town- thankfully I fit in with that bandit gaiter! A winter weather advisory until mid day scared everyone into staying home and off the roads. Upon inspection of the streets, they were dry and free of drivers. During the ride, we came across even fewer cars than normal. It was great! There were hardly any people out and the sounds we heard were of shifting gears, the purr of bicycle chains and the occasional ranch dog running along side the group. The ride proceeded as usual and four hours later we were done.
While stripping off the many layers of clothes, a sense of accomplishment hit. We had taken victory over the cold, over the season, and showed nature that some low temperatures weren’t going to scare us into staying inside. Did I enjoy a mug of hot tea after the ride? Absolutely! But it was enjoyed with a sense of victory and appreciation of what the seasons have to offer.
Share your stories of winter training, we’d love to hear them!