Tag Archives: weather

The 2011 Season in Full Swing

The 2011 cycling season is in full swing. Or at least as much as the weather will allow. A fair bit of rain has prevented a few weekly rides but we are still managing others.

Spring weather in Maine can be hit or miss. I’ve seen 70-80 degree days in early April and also full on snow storms. Such was the case on April first this year with a good 6-inches of heavy wet snow. The up-side, if there is an up-side, to those types of storms is that the snow is virtually gone the following day.

Last week we gathered for a Wednesday night ride. The afternoon was filled with glorious sun and blue sky. By the time we gathered to ride it was overcast, windy, and snow falling from the sky. But that didn’t stop the 16 or so women who showed up to ride. The adage, “If you don’t like the weather in Maine, just wait a minute” held true because about 20 minutes into the ride it was sunny and warm again.

Regardless of the up and down temps and precipitation, we are officially on the road. Most of the roads have seen at least one pass of a street sweeper, so it was time to pull the Aegis off the trainer, swapping out the trainer tire for a road tire, and prepare it for the road.

Yup, it’s officially spring and the biking season is upon us. We’ll still be faced with cool weather wardrobe decisions for a few weeks yet. You’ll hear no complaints from me – I’ll be outside on my bike.

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Spring Riding

How does life get to be so busy that I just can’t find the time to blog?

Fortunately my busy life has included some incredible outdoor riding in some unseasonably warm spring temperatures.

Normal temperatures for Maine this time of year is in the 40-degree range. Lately many days have been in the mid 50’s. We even had several days this past week in the 60’s.

Several Portland Velo Club women joined me on rides this week. We even joined another women’s ride Wednesday for a total of 17 riders that night.

This has been a long drought of snow. I think our last significant snow storm was in December or January. But it’s been fine by me because I’ve been able to be outside biking a fair bit this winter. Now the weather has been unseasonably warm, driving more of us out on our bikes.

Today I managed to get out for an early morning group ride with the PVC Women followed by 90-minutes of yoga. I left the house at 6:30 am and managed to return at noon. Two things I love to do but took up half my day. Now, that doesn’t mean that it always take up half my day, it just worked out that way.

The weather is turning cooler next week but with Daylight Savings Time I’ll still be able to be out on the road after work for some training rides as long as we don’t see any snow.

Back to Work

Last week was a very enjoyable rest week. I spent too much time off the bike, that’s for sure. I rode Monday during lunch and then nothing for the remainder of the week. I missed my normal Wednesday night spin class because I got held up at work. Thursday and Friday I was experiencing some muscle spasms in my back.

Now that the week is over it’s time to get back to work on the bike and I did just that Saturday. Temperatures were in the mid 40’s so riding outside was my best option. It was a bit windy but still managed to ride 30 miles.

Today was even windier, making my interval work daunting. Still, it was nicer to ride outside than inside on the trainer.

As is typical after a rest week, and time off, it’s taking me a while to get my legs back under me. I was pedaling squares over the past couple days but should smooth that out by the end of the week.

Tomorrow is an easy day. However, temps are predicted to be in the upper 40’s so I will take advantage of a little sun and warmth to ride easy outside. My plan is to spin early Tuesday and Thursday with yoga in the evenings. Wednesday I’ll be spinning at night with my spin class.

I have my fingers crossed that we’ll dodge some snow later this week to manage to ride outside next weekend again.

January Thaw

We are having a bit of a warmup here in the north east. Today’s temps were around 40 degrees. That was reason enough to get out on the bike for a few hours.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t see more riders out on the roads. However, I know of a couple groups that did get out much earlier than my 12:30 departure. Still, I did see a group of 3 and as I went by them I recognized all three. I wish you could sometimes recognize them earlier to you could actually call them by name. Though it is much easier to do that in the summer when most are dressed in the club/team kits.

Before leaving I thought I might be over dressed. I decided to leave the windbreaker I had tucked in my pocket. My husband said I’d probably be fine, pointing out that there would be plenty of shady spots that might feel chilly. He was dead on and I was glad to be dressed as I was in tights, a base layer shirt, and another jersey with wind stopper material. I put on my new Capo wool cap under my helmet because it has flaps I could pull down if my ears were cold. Though at that last minute I exchanged it for the new wool cap my friend, Julie, made for me. It was warm enough where I didn’t need to cover my ears and I really wanted to wear the new cap. (More on this in my next post.)

With the warmer temperatures meant that the roads would be wet from melting and a chance to put the Roadracer fenders to the test. They seemed to work fine. I did try to avoid as many puddles as possible – you never know when a puddle means a crater containing water, which would surely do some damage to the wheels, if not cause a crash. But when I knew it was just a skimming of water on the surface on the road I rode through it. At first I expected to feel that familiar wet feeling seep through to my back side but that didn’t happen. The bike was still a bit filthy when I returned home, though it was nothing that a bucket of water poured over the bike wouldn’t take care of. (I would have used the hose but because it’s been left out there must be ice in it because no water came out when I pulled the trigger on the nozzle.)

Tomorrow won’t be quite as nice – temps are expected to be in the mid-30’s and with a storm moving in later in the day a hefty cloud cover is predicted. There is something to be said for a sunny day this time of year to make a ride outside SO much more enjoyable. I will see if I can get an earlier start for a ride tomorrow. With snow on the horizon it’s best to be out on the road whenever possible. If we were to get hit with some back to back snow storms that could hamper my outside rides for a while.

Next week is a rest week for me. It won’t be completely restful. I am taking a friend to a yoga class Monday and I have spin Wednesday night. There will probably be a light workout in there Tuesday morning. Thursday and Friday I have other things planned so those will be complete days off the bike. Then I’ll spin easy Saturday and Sunday and prepare for more work the following week.

This past week I’ve been feeling a bit brain dead and not sure if it’s because of my 3-week work load. I’ll be thankful for an easy week. I have a friend who trains 2 weeks followed by a rest week every third week. A 4-week block seems to be a bit hard on her. I’m going to make note of how I feel during this next 4 week block, in particular how I feel in that third week, and if I see a repeat of this past week, I just might try the 3-week training block to see if that helps.

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.

Late December Riding

Sometimes the weather surprises us this time of year, allowing for a really nice ride. Such was the case today.

The temperatures were predicted to be around 40 but it was 46 at last check when starting out around 11:00am.

With high thin clouds it was warm enough to go out in my kit, arm/leg warmers and a vest.

My timing was very good as it clouded up immensely soon after my return 3 hours later followed by cold rain that turned into a bit of snow.

I relish rides such as these throughout the winter months. They are certainly far and few between but I’ll be very grateful for each and every one. Though they usually don’t feel as warm as today’s once we build a significant snow pack.

Tomorrow it turns significantly colder with temps in the 20s and very windy, then finishing off the week with a Nor’easter, or so they say. Looks like I’ll be back on the trainer and treadmill later this week.

At least today provided me a chance to capture more video for indoor training purposes. More on this later.

How to Dry Wet Cycling Shoes

I don’t ride much in the rain or in wet conditions. Sometimes I ride on wet roads but the use of boot covers do a nice job at keeping my feet dry.

Wednesday was a different story. My teammate, Meg, is moving away and we had decided to have a “farewell ride” for her. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very nice for riding but Meg wanted to ride rain or shine. And rain it did.

So we went out for about 20+ miles. About 5 miles in my feet got wet. It was the soggy kind of wet where you think there is about an inch of water in your shoes.

I had heard about a trick of putting newspapers in your shoes to absorb the water. It doesn’t sound like it would work well but I’m here to tell you it does!

In preparation for the Friday morning coffee ride I went to check on my shoes and they were still soaking wet, even though I had taken out the insoles after the ride Wednesday night. So I stuffed them with crumpled up newspaper for the night and hoped for the best. 

8 hours later I pulled out the newspaper and were shocked to see how dry they were. It really worked well. 

I never made it on the Friday morning coffee ride today. It was raining when I went to leave. One soggy ride this week was enough for me. I’ve had two consecutive days off the bike due to the rain and this might prove detrimental with the upcoming Time Trial on Sunday. Tomorrow should be a better day and I’ll have to get in a decent ride to work the kinks out of the legs prior to Sunday morning.