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 called....it 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.