Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Joys of Cold-weather Riding

During each of my rides through September and October, I felt a combination of joy and sadness rising up within me. The joy came from the comfortable riding temps and the panoply of changing leaves – New England at its best. The sadness arose because summer was dying. Soon, no more plentiful sunlight and warmth for riding upon arriving home from work. Cold. Dark. Rollers. Wearing out my favorite podcasts and music playlists, while I pedal nowhere for hours.

But… I forgot how much fun cold weather riding can be. Oh, yeah – right! You can still ride outdoors for much of late fall and winter! In its own strange way, it’s as pleasing as summer riding. (Until the snows come, that is.)

Last week, I went for a long ride in a heavy fog, temps in the low 50s. As I shot down the road, moody light emanated from all directions at once. I freight-trained along through huge fingers of mist, the mountains to one side of me all draped in soft foggy lace.

I love feeling toasty-warm under my winter gear, protected from the harsh elements I am rocketing through. I love hoping that the people passing me in cars are thinking, “That guy must be nuts!” when, in fact, I feel great. I love the snap my legs get when its cold outside (once I’ve warmed up, which takes extra time).

This weekend, I laid out a big chunk of change for serious winter riding tights. I rode through all of last winter in a double layer of polypropylene beneath a pair of running tights that bagged and wrinkled too much. Once home, I put on my sleek new black tights and topped them with a silver-and-black jersey, and I felt like a rocket waiting for blast-off. There was a ferocious wind that day, and the windfront fabric worked like a charm – warm and dry in front, breathable in back. I felt cozy and I looked fast – what could be better?

For my Tuesday a.m. ride tomorrow, it’s supposed to be in the low 20s. We’ll see just how well this recovered affection for cold-weather riding holds up then.

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