Schwinn Collegiate

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winter Conundrum

The winter is at hand, and it is time to make that yearly decision: rough it outside or ride the trainer indoors.  Last year I chose to ride the trainer indoors.  It was really effective.  I went to a class twice a week at a bike shop and they put me through a rigorous 1-1.5 hour workout.  In the end it really paid off.  When spring hit, I was riding like a champ and able to do my first century not long after.  But I also must admit that by the end I was bored senseless.

Each session we'd watch a DVD of a Tour de France or Paris-Roubaix.   At first, it was pretty cool.  But they only seemed to have a handful of DVDs.  I quickly found myself watching the same couple of DVDs over and over again.

There was no wind, no scenery, no freedom, no fun.  It made me realize the reasons that I rode.  I rode to because it was fun.  I could go anywhere (that my legs could take me), see anything, enjoy the fun of rolling along quickly into the wind.  However, I also remembered that one of the reasons I wasn't riding outside was that it was so cold that outside wasn't fun anymore either.

So this year, I have invested heavily in winter clothing: two pairs of tights, a new set of winter booties, a pair of lobster mitts, a neck gaiter, and a hat....I guess that is what it is goes on my head and makes me look like I'm about to go swimming.

My coldest ride so far has been a 31 degree ride.  My toes and my fingers were both pretty cold.  The good news is that I hadn't taken out the lobster mitts yet. The bad news is that I had wool socks and winter booties on.   The temperature around here will hover in the 0-20 range for most of the winter or about 4-5 months of the year.

From what I can tell, fingers and toes are the key.  My torso is the easiest to keep warm.  A couple layers and a wind-breaking jacket do the job.  My head is pretty easy too.  In fact, the hard part is how much my head warms up over a ride and the need to be warm at the start.  The face can be tricky too, but a balaclava and a pair of sunglasses seem to do the trick.

The legs are the next coldest part.  A pair of bib shorts under a pair of tights doesn't cut it.  I am not in pain (yet), but I am certainly cold to the touch.  A pair of long tights under a pair of winter tights keeps me pretty warm (for now).  I'm not sure what will happen when it gets colder, but I think this won't be a problem.

Next comes the fingers.  These are tough, too.  They are always cold at the start of a ride and often get warm over the course of a ride.  The good news is that it is easy to bring along a couple of pairs of varying weight gloves.  I am hoping that the lobster mitts will get me through the winter, but if they don't a pair of wool gloves under them might do the trick.

Finally, there are the feet.  The feet are really hard to keep warm.  My old booties were too light so I bought heavier ones.  Combined with wool socks and I was still cold.  My next idea is two pairs of socks under the booties, but my shoes are probably too tight for a whole lot in the way of socks.  I had read that multiple layers of booties is a good option (won't restrict blood flow like multiple pairs of socks).  However, my feet are so incredibly large I can barely get one pair of booties around them, never mind two.

My plan for this year?  To try both.

...I also bought a new trainer.