The snow came last week and the cold persists into the new year. Meanwhile I think of the white beaches of Naxos or Paros or Santorini because this Goddess can’t warm up. The nippy temps nip at my eyes, masked face and I think I’ll never been toasty again. This isn’t a blog post about how I don’t like the chilly temps. I do enjoy the seasons, my only wish is that they were all like summer. Mostly I’m kidding. All the season have their charms, however, when you are a year-round cyclist and bike commuter you want the weather to cooperate.
On New Year’s Eve I went for a ride and I underestimated the wind chill and the general arctic feel of being outside. My two layers were not enough and I then I succumbed to the nippy air and biked less than six miles and complained about it for at least an hour after I got home. I am not new to this topic. I wasn’t thinking. I have all the right gear and I can only conclude that because the sun was shining I suffered from the delusion that it wasn’t all that bad. Often this is the case in the Northwest. That’s why sometimes you’ll spot someone outside in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s in the high 30’s but the sun is shining like it’s 80.
Admittedly, I was flummoxed about how I could be duped. Wishful, optimistic thinking perhaps?
Today being the first day of 2022 I wanted to go on a local ride in Portland. However it was 23 degrees when I got up and then it warmed to 26 and then my husband did the unthinkable. He made this roaring fire and I sat and enjoyed every ember as though it were a gift from the heavens.
The New Year’s Day ride was set to start at noon. I saw some posts on Instagram and it looks like 70+ brave souls were out there. The fireplace was holding me captive so despite “registering” for the ride I bailed. In the hopes that the temps would climb to 30 degrees later in the day I started planning my own 10 miler around my neighborhood. How did I manage? I layered up as if I was about to head out for the peak of Mt. Hood.
Getting dressed for winter bike rides is similar to climbing a mountain— you have to begin at the base. I started with a two foundation layers; a thermal long-sleeve t-shirt and a merino wool hoodie. Then added a SmartWool jacket with puffy core. My favorite jacket is a Gore insulated jacket that I’ve had for years. It’s perfect at 45º but not enough for today’s temps without a windbreaker, so my ShowersPass windbreaker to the rescue. I bought an XL for just this sort or layering. That’s 5 layers. At this point I wasn’t sure in which layer my phone was hidden. I had to frisk myself. I added fleece lined thermal bike tights and my heaviest DeFeet wool socks. I could still bend in all the right places and generally move, so it was time to test it out.
I lasted for 10.2 miles and 49 minutes. I feel like I could have gone a bit longer but my hands could turn water into ice cubes. Consequently there are no pics because the thought of peeling off my gloves to snap a selfie was unbearable. All in all the layering test was successful. I know that my gloves are in dire need of an upgrade. It’s always something! I have a set of bar mitts but I’ve never had much luck with them. That’s tomorrow’s project.
Mother Nature is a formidable opponent. I know winter won’t last forever and I know that as a cyclist I have to be more tuned into exactly what I need to be comfortable, safe and climate controlled on my bike.
When I say, “Get out there and ride” I mean it, however, make sure you’re ready for the elements.
Happy and healthy 2022 to all.
Thanks for reading!