Riding when it's COLD!
February 8, 1998...CABIN FEVER!!! It had been two and a half weeks since I'd been on my bike, partly due to being out of town on business, and partly due to nasty weather. Well, that much time off the bike really takes its toll on me...blood pressure rises, belt tightens, and one has to start considering whether you can really eat that next doughnut or not.
Well, Saturday night I pretty much decided I was going to ride on Sunday, one way or another. The weatherman had said that we were supposed to get a brief break in the storms that have been pounding us lately, with another storm moving in later Sunday afternoon. So at my wife's prodding, I go out in the morning since, even though it was raining a bit, it was supposed to be much worse in the afternoon.
January 1st, 1998...the annual New Year's Day ride up Mount Hamilton. No, this isn't a "scheduled" or published ride...it's just something a lot of us do every year, sometimes rain or shine. It's a great way to start the year, and it means that, no matter what else happens the rest of the year, at least you accomplished something!
This year there were fewer people on "the hill" than usual, despite beautiful weather (47 degrees at the bottom at 8:30am, up to the high-50s in the middle of the climb, and a breezy 51 degrees at the top). I believe four people were on the hill ahead of me, three of which we passed on the way up and the fourth must have left very early since he was heading down by the time we were only 1/4 up the hill! But overall, probably 30 people this year (but again, remember that this isn't any sort of formal event...it's just something people do...but I've seen probably up to 100 people some years!).
I wish I could say this was an easy ride for me, but this year that wasn't the case. I was recovering from my second case of a throat infection in three weeks, and hadn't been doing a lot of riding...but it still felt great just being out there. Maybe not nearly as fast as years past (heck, nowhere near as fast...this one was 1:54 for the climb up!)...but it was worth it. And the usual spectacular views on the way up, and, at my speed, plenty of time to enjoy them!
One thing that sure hasn't changed...the descent is as bad as ever. This has to be one of the all-time least enjoyable descents on the planet...18 miles of narrow twisty curves, broken road surfaces and gravel at random intervals...and the few spots where it straightens out aren't steep enough to get any speed up! In fact, you actually look forward to the 2 mile-long sections where you climb instead of descend.
|January 14th (1998)- 27 degrees, on a road bike, and almost comfortable!Some nights you go to bed looking forward to the next-morning's ride. Then others, well...you almost hope for nasty rain so you have an excuse not to go out because it's going to be soooooooo cold. This was one of those days. The weatherman said it might be the coldest day of the year, and darned if he wasn't right. But, with the right clothing, it really wasn't that bad. Here's what it took-
Wool cycling socks (80% wool, 20% stretch nylon) from Superwool
This combination is quite comfortable without excessive bulk. The ride varied from 27-35 degrees (temperature verified with a TREK radar cycling computer...highly recommended!), and really wasn't that bad. Of course, still had some of that fun feeling in the shower as the toes are thawing out and half-itch/half-hurt. But over-all, it was a good ride, even though its 1600-foot climb up King's Mountain Road sure seems a lot steeper during the winter!
Oh yes. I should add that Chain Reaction sells everything mentioned above, although the exact gloves (the TREK Polar-fleece) are no longer made so we'll have to set you up with a suitable alternative. But, as you can see, we ride what we sell and our practical experience can turn your potentially miserable ride into, well, at least a survivable experience that you can live and talk about!
Last updated 12/19/06