I prefer riding in the heat than the cold any day. But there is something that I like about the cold. It’s the way it seems to embrace and welcome me in a way that the heat never does. It doesn’t happen right away. For me, the first 10 or 20 minutes of a cold ride usually begin with serious doubts. I worry about whether I’ve worn enough. I wonder if it’s just
too damn cold to ride outside. Icy winds turn my cheeks numb, and I start thinking about frostbite. The tips of my fingers start getting chilled, and I try to get them out of the wind by hiding them on the backside of my handlebars, behind my brake hoods. My brain gets crowded with self-defeating chatter. I fight the temptation to turn back.
But after 20 minutes, after a hill or two, my core starts warming up. The blood starts circulating. Hands and feet start feeling fine. My face turns rosy and warm. Thoughts shift from just surviving to riding to have fun. The period of hazing is over. I’ve proven myself worthy of membership into some kind of fraternity for the frozen. I’ve reached a magical equilibrium with the hostile winter world. I’ve become one with nature (apologies for the cliche). The cold is no longer trying to destroy me. It’s leaving me be. I’ve become a chosen one. It’s a fantastic feeling, and it seems I can ride all day.
Yesterday, I got into this groovy zone and was able to ride for an hour and half , rather than the planned one hour. It’s hard to do this in the heat and humidity because they just want to relentlessly strip you down, suck all the liquid and salt from your body. They never give you a break. The challenge is to get in a good ride before you burn or melt. The good thing about this is that the heat never pretends to be your friend. The cold can be dangerous because it can lull you into thinking you can hang out in the cozy club room longer than you’re really allowed. The fancy modern fabrics that we wear can give us a false sense of security, wicking away sweat from the body and keeping us warm longer than ever before. But the clothes will eventually start failing us as they become more soaked with perspiration. It’s wise to remember that membership to the cold club is temporary.
wafflesandsteel | Filed under: Winter riding | 1 Comment »