Cold bike rides make the winter season a little less gloomy | Columns


My calendar has always had two seasons: the cycling season and the sad season.

Like many people, I suffer from a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder, when shorter days and a lack of sunlight cause a certain sad slump in the mind. I blame my own sad months for not being able to ride the bike paths. For years, seeing my bike hanging from the rack in the garage has been about as depressing as anything I see every day.

But this year, I decided it doesn’t have to be that way. I remembered my friend Guido. Like a postman on wheels, he bundles up and rides his bike to school every day, rain, snow or shine. And if he can do it without turning into a popsicle, why can’t I?

Until this season, I avoided riding in any weather below 55 degrees. But when the mercury dropped last month, I decided to put on a diaper for my first cold ride – T-shirt, sweater, then sweatshirt on top, padded shorts on the bottom. Knit hat on my head.

Half a mile from the trail, I knew I had miscalculated: moving creates wind, which even blows through three layers of fabric. My bare hands and arms were frozen, and by the time I got back to the car, I couldn’t feel my calves at all.

If I had to ride a bike all year round, I would have to gear up like serious cyclists do. A visit to a cycling site and $ 200 later I was ready to face December, and maybe even January and February.

I bought a teflon jacket or something that was designed to block the wind, along with long padded cycling pants, special thin gloves designed to grip the handlebars, a shell to wear under a helmet and a cover. -neck. If the bike ride didn’t work, I was appropriately dressed for a spacewalk.

As I walked out, I realized the new pants didn’t have deep, stretchy pockets to store my phone and snacks. No pockets on the new jacket either, so I slipped my padded shorts over the padded pants and damn it, that’s a lot of padding there.

At the Montour Trail, I got out of my car, removed the bike from the rack, adjusted the butt padding once more, and off and went. It was 45 degrees, the coldest temperature I have ever ridden.

And there was wind – a strong head wind that bent the upper branches of the trees and sent leaves swirling down the path in front of me. I’m not exactly what you would call aerodynamic even when I’m wearing a diaper in mid-July. Now, with my torso heavily padded in wool and encased in a synthetic sheet jacket, I was essentially a schooner pushing against the wind. I could barely maintain 8 miles an hour.

The Stay-Puft Marshmallow man goes for a walk.

I was lumpy, but not cold. I don’t know if I went through my usual cardio workout; all that padding – above the waist and below – tends to interfere with movement.

Are there 20 degree days in my future? We’ll have to see if my outfit is warm enough for that. I suspect that when February arrives, I will be counting the days until spring, as I always have.

But now I know how to keep riding in the 50s and 40s – slower of course, but outdoors. It makes the season a little less sad.

About Robert James

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