“Winter” Cycling

For some reason I’ve been really into the idea of winter cycling. Winter, of course, being relative — I do live in Northern California, and I still have no interest in biking in the rain. But I love sunny, chilly weather, and I regret that I basically didn’t ride my bike between July and January of last year. So, sure: winter 2013-2014, the season of cycling.

First, of course, I had to get some gear. I cashed in some REI gift cards for knee warmers and full-fingered gloves and a non-sleeveless top, and I dug out a fleece-y jersey that I bought on super sale last year but hadn’t had much occasion to wear, given that I’m usually sweaty and steaming the second it hits about 58 degrees.

Then, it had to get cold. Enter: the legendary California cold snap. Perfect.

I had these fantasies of slicing through the winter sun, casting long shadows, seeing my breath. I’d be bundled up and perfectly toasty, smugly taking advantage of the fleeting gorgeous days.

Yeah. Here’s what actually happened when I headed to the Three Bears on Saturday:

  • It was windy — the kind of wind that bored into my eyeballs and gave me a headache about three minutes in. And despite the fact that the route is a square, it felt like I had a headwind on three of the four legs.
  • My gloves made my hands cramp up, another sign (see also: padded socks, cushioned running shoes) that my body rejects all attempts at comfort.
  • My normally perfectly grippy tri shorts bottoms gripped less well on knee-warmer fabric than they do on my legs, so the shorts rode up and the knee warmers slipped down, squeezing out a little line of pudge on each thigh.
  • My newly exposed thigh pudge started rubbing against a rogue piece of velcro from my flat kit, which I was too cold to feel, which led to the chafing from hell, not to mention frayed spots on the shorts and the knee warmers.

Not exactly a stellar first showing.

I’ll get another try this weekend during my tri club’s Santa ride, during which I’ll add plush reindeer antlers to my winter cycling ensemble.

Then again, it’s supposed to be 60 degrees again by Saturday.

2 thoughts on ““Winter” Cycling

  1. Kristina says:

    I’m the biggest “winter” cycling wimp! And here in SoCal, I usually don’t have to worry too much about it, but I want/need to ride more this winter. So, like you, I shopped for gear this past weekend – a cap to wear under the helmet and booties (I have terrible circulation and my hands and feet freeze!). I ended up wearing running tights under my bike shorts – very stylish, I know. And lots of other layers. I was warm on the uphill but just right or even a bit chilly when I was cruising downhill. The cap and booties were great and I have no regrets about the cash I plunked down for them because I do plan to wear them again!

    • kimretta says:

      Booties! You reminded me I should dig out my toe warmers — I got them on sale last year, but I hadn’t biked outside for a WHILE by then, and I kept picturing them getting tangled in my cleats. I think I could manage it this time around. It’s funny what a difference gear makes in my comfort and, more importantly, my motivation.

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