A New Low

No, I’m not referring to an aspect of my character, I’m actually referring to the weather. As you are probably aware, most of the nation has been locked into some pretty cold air. I was determined not to let that stop me from getting out on the road for a bike ride today, especially since we haven’t had much in the way of snow in a week so the roads were pretty clear for riding.

My previous low temp I had ridden in was 26-degrees F. Today I managed to surpass that. It was 16 degrees when I left for my ride, but with the wind temp it “felt like” 4 degrees. Ted King, another New Englander,cannot accuse me of being a Sissy Girl. Upon my return it had warmed up to a balmy 22 degrees, feeling like 13.

There were a number of factors that got me out on the road today.

Reason #1: The biggest reason was a chance to ride on the road and not spending 2 hours on the trainer. I can easily do an hour on the trainer but when it comes to doing anything more than that my nether regions get a bit sore and I’m ready to be off the bike.

Reason #2: Capture more video for training on the bike when it’s too snowy to ride. I ended up with 55 minutes of good video and another 40+ minutes where the camera was angled too far to the road making it unusable for my project.

Reason #3: The purchase of a set of Road Racers fenders, made by Crud Products. This came about from a trip to my LBS that told me they really didn’t have any fenders for my bike. They had a basic clip on fender for the rear tire but I wanted something a bit more. So we did some searching and found these. They were extremely easy to install and I wanted to take the bike out on the road to see how they worked. Unfortunately at 15 degrees, it’s too cold for any significant melting to take place so the roads weren’t wet enough to really see how good they are. Still there was plenty of salt on the road to kick up onto the bike and after upon my return there was just a thin layer of salt dust on the bike frame. I suppose it would have been much worse without the fenders.

Here’s a video on attaching them:

The hardest part about preparing for a ride on such a cold day is dressing. My last ride was on 12/28 and it was 45 degrees. I just had on my kit, leg/arm warmers, and a vest. Today was quite a different story and I’ll share with you  how I dressed:

  • Smartwool knee high ski socks under my sidi shoes and booties.
  • Descente wind stopper tights.
  • Descente base layer long sleeved shirt, a Sport Science wool shirt (I recently bought this for cycling and snowshoeing, and it looks good as a casual top, too), and my Castelli jacket.
  • Lobster gloves and a balaclava.

This was the first time I used the balaclava and that might have made a huge difference with my level of comfort. However, since I pulled the front down around my chin for most of the ride, I would probably wear my Capo wool cycling cap next time.

I questioned my tights choice thinking I might be better off with another layer, which isn’t possible with these tights, but they were plenty warm enough. My only issue was that my hind side was a bit cold when it was out of the sun on the way home since that is much thinner than the front that has the windstopper material.

I typically wear two layers of socks but surprisingly didn’t need the extra layer with the Smart Wool socks.

My lobster gloves were a great purchase last spring and I have put them to use on many cool weather rides thus far this year, but they are certainly too warm for anything above freezing because then your hands just sweat too much. A friend of mine recently posted a review of Bar Mitts. They look a bit funky but he says they work really well. I might have considered them if I didn’t already have my lobster gloves.

I stayed primarily to roads I knew were wide and sunny, knowing that there wouldn’t be as much black ice to contend with making for a safer ride. That said, there was a point where I had to ride more into the lane than normal due to some blowing, drifting snow into the road off from a very open field. And I did run into a situation where a guy has shoveled snow from his yard or driveway into the road forcing me to choose my line through it very carefully.

With the ride behind me, I’m so thankful I was able to get out on the road today. Unfortunately my secondary water bottles froze solid making it unusable. I didn’t realize it until I was almost home so I guess I didn’t really need it much. This time of year it’s hard to make yourself drink enough on the bike but I still try to be conscious of it. Next time I might use my insulated Camelbak instead. My other observation about the water bottle was that if you took a drink and then closed the valve it would freeze and make it harder to open. I recommend not closing it if you have the option.

Tomorrow is a day off for me. It’s back on the bike Tuesday and Wednesday. With the upcoming PVC Women’s Clinic Thursday evening, I’ll have to adjust my schedule accordingly to accommodate it. If I can manage an early morning workout I’ll be on the bike. If not, then I’ll take the night off and bike, run or do yoga Friday night.

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