Monday, December 19, 2011

'Tis the season... ride your bike in the freezing cold (?!)

Winter is here. I woke up this morning to a dusting of snow. I was already planning to go for a bike ride outside and I don't enjoy changing plans. Even though the warm couch on a Sunday was calling my name. Typically, I'm not a winter rider. My favourite days on the bike are the hottest days of the year. Riding in the cold weather just sounds miserable to me.

Road bikes are meant to go fast. The faster you go the windier it is. The windier it is the colder it is. I just don't understand how one can possibly stay warm! I was coming down the escarpment and my top speed was 56.3km/h. At -1C, I wonder what the wind chill factor is? Tears were streaming down my face by the time I got to the bottom of the hill.

I learned a few things on my ride though. Water bottles in cages? gross. I went to take a drink and it was like a gritty salt lick. Much like the road. Because there was some melted snow, the road salt and spray were covering me and my water bottles. Ergo, a nice sip of water turned into something totally gross.

I learned that I can't really stop for anything. I had to stop to check my BG half way through and the few seconds I had my hands exposed was enough to rid them of all their precious warmth. I mean, I'm glad I checked because I was down to 5.2mmol/l (94mg/dl) and needed to suck back a gel but I wish I hadn't had to stop. It took a solid 15 minutes of hard riding before I could start feeling my fingers again. I also used a hand warmer in my meter case just like the days of last winter.

I learned it takes me a long time to get dressed! I had a pair of long pants. On top of that my cycling shorts, then my leg warmers. A long sleeve top, a riding jersey, arm warmers and then my jacket. A neck gaiter, A cap for under my helmet and a pair of gloves under mitts. Then socks, shoes and booties. I fought with my pump and my bib shorts as well as my shuffle and ear buds. I felt like a kid getting ready to go and play in the snow only to have to pee once I was dressed. Except I didn't have to go pee. I was just really hot. But y'know what? My legs and core were warm the whole time. It was just my  hands, feet and face that were unhappy.

I got the wheezy-achy-cold-lung post ride cough for a couple hours. Didn't enjoy that.

It was sort of fun, the cold made me want to work harder to stay warm and I felt like I really pushed myself. Cold weather running is certainly easier and there's no gritty dirty bike to clean.

Also... do you think it's possible to get dehydrated via the nose? holy snot buckets.

I don't love it, the cold weather rides. I'll deal with it though, because my living room is a brain sucker. I loved getting out on the road. I always feel so much stronger outside seeing things fly by. It really gave me a bit more motivation. I don't care what kind of indoor trainer you have, nothing will mimic the road quite like the real thing.


  1. Brrrr... Just reading this makes me want to put on another sweater.

  2. i envy your determination. here i am complaining about how tired i am, and there you are out riding in the freezing cold, drinking salty grit!

  3. This is awesome! (sounds kinda brutal but funny how these things make everything more amazing) I passed up my normal living room workout today to take the kids out to the park where they gave me a MAJOR workout by making me sprint in opposite directions to keep them from a) climbing a tree so high that I wouldn't be able to reach them, b) running into the road and getting struck by a car and c) falling off the edge of a small cliff (not even kidding). It was kind of miserable and yet so exhilarating for us to run wild like that. I guess what I'm saying is getting out there and dealing with whatever one's environment throws at you makes a person feel more alive as opposed to being in doors and comfortably sitting on a cozy couch, ya know? :D

  4. I'm shaking my head in disbelief...only because I'm doing good just to walk to my car on the icy sidewalk to go work out in a nice warm gym...which I then have to find a big fan to blow on me while I walk on the treadmill!! ;)
    Mad props, my friend!!

  5. Sometimes it is so hard to get motivated to go out and run for me in the cold. Cycling does sound rather awful because you are going so much faster. I applaude you for doing it!! I don't think I could.

  6. Kudos to you for getting out there. Especially coming back from AZ. Im a fellow type 1 out in the cold and know your pain. I recently completed the Tri-States Gran Fondo and it was super windy and cold there. In the desert no less. I wrote about my finish in my blog and thought you might enjoy it.

  7. Hot packs in your shoes, good winter gloves, booties and as many layers of lycra as you can put on and some good embrocation on the front of the legs / knees should help keep you warmer. Mountain biking is also better than road riding once the temps dip below freezing. It's clean once the trails are frozen and less wind chill with the slower speeds and trees in the woods. But if you're going to be riding on the road, fenders are a must. Fun being a cyclist during the winter in Canada eh? Keep on riding...


Due to low life spam monkeys I am forced to moderate comments and I hate it (But I hate spam monkeys more)