It’s 3am and I can’t sleep. Laying in my bed, my mind races over bills, kids, jobs, and that dream I just had with Pee Wee Herman and Selma Hayek. So I do the same thing I do every night, pretend to ride my favorite routes through Harvard, Stow, or Bolton. I know these roads so well, every turn, dip, and town line just flows through my mind. In a few minutes I’m snoring again. (Sorry Laura!)
Today I rode some new roads, through Miles Standish Park, Plymouth, Bourne, Onset, and who knows where else. Stopped 4 times in 30 miles to check my phone to find where the heck I was. Rode 3 miles under power lines. The good news is that I had a MTB, the bad was that I had my bald tires pumped to 60psi for better traction on pavement, but terrible handling on gravel and sand. Didn’t matter. In the end I rode almost 45 miles and probably knew where I was less than half the time. Didn’t matter. Followed markers for two different club rides, not sure where they went. Didn’t matter.
Now is the time of year to take it easy, recover, and enjoy yourself. Who needs goals when it is freezing outside yet you hop on your street bike rather than the trainer.
Consider getting a mountain bike or fixie for winter riding. The fixie has no derailleurs and is much easier to clean, and encourages you to ride smoothly. Best of all – your LBS (Local Bike Shop) is almost deserted so you’ll get great service and a nice price.
Go out, remember what riding a bike was before you learned about training, heart rate zones, and carbon fiber. Enjoy yourself and get lost as you can’t ride fast if you don’t know where you are going.
Don’t look now, but the forecast for eastern Mass for Saturday is supposed to be not too bad, high around 40 in the afternoon. “Brrr!” is the first reaction from most of you, but don’t give up yet. With just two more layers you can easily ride at this temperature and stay fairly warm. For $100-200 you can easily add an extra month or two to your riding season.
The goal for winter and spring riding is LSD – Long Slow Distance. Save the town line sprints for summer; you want to burn off some of those Christmas cookies and keep your legs in shape.
40 is warmer than you think
I rode both days last weekend and hardly felt chilled. Start from the top. Get a thin cap made for cycling that fits under your helmet. Its main goal is to keep the wind from cooling down the hottest part of your body, especially for those of us whose hair has become more theoretical. As long as it is above freezing, I don’t bother with a balaclava. Or baklava. Carry a headband in case the cap is too warm.
For your chest, try something warm such as a base layer or synthetic sweat shirt like Under Armor. (When it is in the 50s, I just wear a v-neck cotton shirt. Cheap and effective.) On top wear a good cycling jacket, perhaps with some lining.
For gloves, head over to EMS. They sell a great glove liner that slips under your regular cycling glove and keeps your fingers extra toasty. Also get some Wind Blocker outer gloves that you can take on or off as the temps vary. These layers don’t add bulk and are very flexible. I once tried lobster gloves and after 5 miles my hands were sweating like Nixon under the lights.
I have a heavier pair of tights that I wear to keep my legs comfortable. The PMC leg warmers are in the back of my closet and may never come out. Not my speed. Poly or wool hiking socks in my shoes and either booties or just toe covers and I’m all set.
Lastly, chose your route well. I like to start with a modest climb up Rt. 62 in Stow to get the fires stoked. Avoid exposed areas where the wind can hammer you, like that stretch of 117 I rode Sunday that was a hair too chilly. Dunkin Donuts is always a great destination as you can fill your insulated water bottle with some hot cocoa. Just watch that first sip – it might burn your tongue.
Sounds chilly? Beats the alternative – spin classes or pedaling in your basement!
(Thanks to the Lexington PMC team for the title inspiration.)