Winter Cycling

Snow or no snow?  That is the question...

Snow or no snow? That is the question…

Yesterday was the first time I had taken my bike outside with snow still visible on the ground.  If the freezing temperatures aren’t enough to scare me off, then the ice usually does.  After being on the bike trainer for a couple of weeks I was starting to get cycling cabin fever.  However, it’s one thing to gear up and go for a run… riding a bike drops the temperature another 10-20 degrees thanks to the wind chill.

Sure, I was excited about our white Christmas and I sure do love sledding on fresh snow with my girls or skiing the slopes with my husband.  Yet, part of me wants this snow stuff to go away.  I’m kind of torn.  I love snow, but I also enjoy riding my bike outside.  If I were training for a snowshoe race or a downhill skiing competition then I would obviously thrive on the snow, but a triathlon involves swimming, cycling and running.  Thinking about getting into the pool when my toes are frozen due to the walk from the car to the gym is a bit daunting.  Putting on loads of gear to head out for a quick 4-mile run just sounds like a lot of work.  Cycling into the wind and freezing your face off is just unthinkable.

Yesterday an opportunity was laid out before me.  Weather.com was predicting highs in the upper 40’s with minimal wind.  I usually take the weather report with a grain of salt, but I figured that I should at least give it a try.  I loaded up the bike in the car before heading to work at the fun hour of 4:30 AM.  Six hours later I was at the gym.   As I walked across the parking lot I felt a chill in the air.  40 degrees?  Whatever.  I only hoped that it would warm up by the time I finished my swim.  After getting out of the pool and walking into the freezing locker room, I began to wonder whether or not I would chicken out and head home to the trainer.  The hot shower changed my mind.  I proceeded to dry off completely, including my hair.  There was no way I was getting on that bike with wet hair.

A few minutes later I walked out into the bright sunshine.  It felt so good beaming down on me.  I realized that now was my chance.  I went to the car and analyzed my gear options.  Should I just wear a long-sleeve shirt or should I put on a wind resistant jacket?  Should I wear a hat?  Do I need an extra fleece?  I decided not to be too confident because the temperature always drops as soon as you start pedaling.  I opted for the long pants over my biking shorts, the long-sleeve shirt with the jacket and my gloves.  I put my hat in my pocket just in case.  I was thankful for my gear selection as soon as I started pedaling.

It didn’t take long to warm up and I felt so exhilerated to be outside on such a beautiful day!  All of the sand and rocks on the road were a bit of a bummer, but I didn’t see any patches of ice on the main roads.  It was kind of ironic to be riding past fields of snow on such a warm day.  I became so confident about not running into any ice that I had to make an abrupt stop on a neighborhood street when I came upon a large patch of ice that stretched across the entire road.  It was in the shade of a large pine tree so it wasn’t planning to melt any time soon.  I unclipped from my bike and slowly walked my bike across the patch nearly slipping as I did so.  After that I became more observant of where I was going (which I should probably do anyway).  At one point I decided to take one my old trails.  I couldn’t ride as fast as usual because I was concerned that an unexpected patch of ice would be around every corner.  I encountered one along the path and then came to a patch so large that I decided just to turn around and stick with the roads.

Now I am looking forward to my next ride, but I am not sure when the opportunity will arise again.  This weekend it is supposed to dip back down into the single digits.  I just wish this weather would make up its mind!

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