Monday, January 21, 2008

Tips for cycling in sub-zero weather

Learned during and after this morning's ride in 14-degrees in New York City, with a wind chill of -1 (the wind chill factor is the only worthwhile measurement, something I hadn't known living for 40 years in California):

1. Don't bother filling your bottles the night before and putting them in the refrigerator. Instead, fill them with hot tap water just before leaving. That will delay by 5 to 10 minutes the eventual freezing of your drink.

2. Once your bottle freezes, take it out of the cage and into your back pocket. Better yet, put it there at the outset of the ride to keep it from freezing too fast. To keep it from freezing at all, put it inside your jacket or just stay home on the trainer.

3. You cannot overdress for this kind of cold. I had four layers on my feet, and my toes were still numb nearly an hour after I finished the ride.

4. When you don't see another cyclist on the road bike for the first hour, you know you should have stayed home on the trainer. I saw five guys on mountain bikes and they were all wearing jeans. These guys were not working out but riding to work. I saw many joggers, more than a few of which did a double take when they saw me.

5. Just because the NFL plays in this kind of weather, doesn't mean you have to ride in it. Remember, two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game had terrible ones last night in negative wind chill temperatures. Also remember they made more money last night warming up than I make all year.

6. Ride with a buddy under these kind of conditions. What would have happened if I got a flat? Who would have lent me cab fare for the ride home?


Anonymous said...

For all those who like the seasons.
I live in a small town or village called Los Osos CA 'Center of the Universe'. In this town if it gets 80 or above degrees we call a town meeting and remind the town leaders that there are laws about this. Also if it gets below 40 degrees we threaten to move to some other more pleasant place such as Hawaii. So don't tell me about the wonders of the north east as in Maine or some such place. I don't want to hear of lies. I know about cold because I once spent a winter in Korea and my recomendation is don't do it.

Jeff Ballinger said...

Having lived in California for more than 40 years - most of it down in SLO County, in which Los Osos resides - I'll take seasons over temperate climate at this stage of my life. We took beautiful weather for granted there, having it 325+ days a year. Much better cycling weather, but the cost of living was just a killer when you factored in the low wages. There's so many people under-employed there, willing to put up with all kinds of unreasonable treatment to live in wonderful weather. Just wasn't a future there for us any more. Good luck with the sewer tab in Los Osos, by the way.