Cold Weather Riding

The temperatures have dropped considerably since those balmy 100+ degree days this past summer. Along with the change in weather I’ve also had to change my daily riding routine. The days are so short and the decent riding weather so infrequent; I find it difficult to get in road time when it’s in the twenties and dark outside.

Normally I’d be puzzling over a winter bike project by this time, but nothing interesting has presented itself yet. I’d really like to work on a tweed ride project for next Spring’s Velocipede and Tweed Indeed but I’m uncharacteristically remaining patient and waiting for something cool to fall into my lap, all the while watching country auctions and estate sales for potential candidates. But with no winter bike build on the immediate horizon, my focus has been on my current stable of two-wheelers and staying in shape.

I really hate my indoor trainer but I’ve been experimenting with training videos while I ride this year. I have to admit that so far the videos from Sufferfest have kept me engaged … and that has meant I’ve trained harder and more consistently when I’m trapped inside. (For the record, I’m currently training with the title, “Local Hero.” I may have to download others to keep things interesting.)

As the daylight has waned, so too has the attention span of drivers. I wonder if they are just not expecting to see cyclists out on the road at this time of year because they seem surprised to come round a bend in the road and see me pedaling along. And more than once this past week I’ve felt particularly vulnerable as cars whizzed by me in their mad rush to reach the shopping areas and consume, consume, consume. I’m on heightened awareness status every time I hit the road right now.

Obviously, my gear has been adjusted to fit the clime. Full fingered cycling gloves that are a size too large cover snug fitting and warm running gloves. An insulated cycling jacket is the outermost layer on my torso, then a merino wool riding sweater, and a technical tee. Insulated tights and riding shorts compliment the uppers, and I’ve managed to get a knit stocking cap on under my helmet to protect my ears.

Off the trainer, I’m mostly riding the Shogun at the moment. She’s fully fendered to help keep the road gunk off my frame and the front rando bag makes it convenient for me to take advantage of layering my clothes while I ride – i.e., as I warm up – and to avoid sweat-saturating my threads – I peel off layers and stow the loose gear in my front bag. Otherwise, I risk suffering the misery of combining wet clothes with cold wind as the daylight fades and temperatures drop. Brrrr!

My flashing red tail light, whether night or day, is powered up as soon as I hit the road. I’ve also got a NiteRider rechargeable light unit for seeing (and being seen) when darkness arrives more quickly than anticipated. And make no mistake: it gets dark fast right now.

For now, I ride in the daylight when the opportunity presents itself; I’m happy that it’s mid-December and I’m still getting some road time in at all. February, after all, is just around the corner, and that’s when I’ll need to shove the dogs off the couch to make room for me.

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