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Cold Weather Cycling: Ten Miles at 20 Degrees

This morning, I woke up in Monroe, North Carolina. Having hauled my bike 700 miles, I felt obligated to ride even though the temperature was below 30 degrees. I had, somewhat, planned in advance. I borrowed Dad’s leg warmers and tossed my arm warmers in the bag. I even brought my cycling wind breaker though I never wear it more than about a mile because it makes me sweat.

Cycling Gloves? Ha! Ski Gloves!

I didn’t make it to the end of Grandmother’s drive way before I knew I needed something better than cycling gloves. I was going to lose a finger or two if I didn’t get something warmer on my hands

I ran back into the house and grabbed my ski gloves. I looked silly but my hands stood a better chance of staying warm. The gloves worked wonders.

Five Miles of Headwind

The wind was wicked. The wind was more of a problem than the cold. After two miles, I was sweating like a pig and had to take off the wind breaker. My legs had warmed up and I was flying up the hills. It was the flat sections into the wind where I had a real problem.

After five miles, I turned around. It wasn’t the cold that beat me down, it was the wind.

On the way out, I was cranking like crazy and going 14 miles an hour. On the way back, I was seeing 27 miles an hour and flying up the hills.

Nine Degrees? Really?

Tomorrow it is supposed to be nine degrees. I might give it a try just to say I’ve done it. That way, I never have to do it again.

—Matt

10 comments to Cold Weather Cycling: Ten Miles at 20 Degrees

  • kls

    At nine degrees, you might want to put on a third sock.

  • Jan

    Is that a snow thing?

  • SLM

    Couple of things. Good for you, I was wondering if you were ever going to meet my nemesis, The Wind. Whenever you get a tailwind don’t squander it, remember it’s a gift that you earned (or will have earned as soon as you turn back into the wind) and “dang” I still love those wheels…

  • Charles Keefer

    You go, Matt.

    I might pack my Brompton folding bicycle if I was heading for North Carolina right now, but I don’t think you would catch me actually riding it in 30 degree weather.

    More power to ya.

  • lps

    Who’s telling Jan what a third sock is??

  • kls

    OK, I’ll try to be as delicate as possible. See, Jan is Florida born and bred. She has no concept of cold, so things have to be explained very carefully to her.

    Jan, mam, not only is there cold, there is wind chill, which takes into account both the temperature AND the wind speed.

    When you are riding into the wind and / or going very fast, you get VERY cold.

    If you have on arm warmers and leg warmers and a jacket, your core and extremities may be warm (or, at least, not so cold).

    The problem exists when those parts of you which may be shrunken considerably, but are still near and dear to your heart experience that wind chill with nothing but a tiny piece of lycra between it and Arctic frostbite.

    In the absence of proper cold-weather clothing, a sock may be substituted as an enclosure device. Because of aforementioned shrinkage, a baby sock may be sufficient.

    Do you need more detail?

  • Jan

    I don’t know whether to believe this or not.
    Really. A sock?!

  • SLM

    I love Jan.

    By the way Jan, when you come to St. Louis, the Park Service there has a wonderful tradition of letting folks put their tongue, yes their tongue, against The Arch and be photographed. IF you need more explanation I will save you the trouble of asking for more. They will and encourage you to lick the St. Louis Arch. Again, I’m almost certain Ken has photos of that too…

  • kls

    It has become such a tradition that so many street entrepreneurs were competing to sell alcohol swipes to the germ phobic that the Park Service actually put the business out to bid.

    After a couple of folks suffered frozen tongue syndrome in the early 70s, a warming tape was installed in the traditional licking area to keep the surface above freezing.

    For awhile I wondered if they would have to rotate the licking / kising area to even out the wear, but I guess human saliva isn’t as corrosive as I thought. The same spot has been in use since I was a kid.

    I’ve always wondered who the first person was and it’s a word-of-mouth thing. It’s not described in any tourist info I’ve seen. People just see someone else lined up to do it and think it’s a hoot to have their picture taken.