Tag Archives: cold

What gives a ride bragging rights?

So let's get this straight. It's literally feezing (32 degrees) outside, and we're out on our bikes, pretty comfy actually, while passed by a car with windows up, heater turned up to "7th level of Hell" setting, and the driver's wearing ear muffs. And probably complaining about it being cold.

The chart below shows this morning’s regular Tuesday-Thursday ride, and references distance, speed, climbing, heart-rate… all the usual things that the usual people use to determine how tough the ride was.

But is that really enough?

What about road conditions (clearly 100k on nicely-paved roads is a lot easier than the same distance on rutted trails), the bike you’re riding, and how you’re feeling on a given day? For the most part we compare road rides to other road rides, and off-road rides to other off-road rides, and how you’re feeling is pretty subjective. And for the bike, we’ll just assume everyone’s riding the fastest, smoothest-riding, best-handling bike there is (obviously, a Trek 6-Series Madone, which we’ll be happy to sell you!).

How about weather? If we want to come up with a truly insane ride, something epic, shouldn’t weather factor in? That’s where that last set of numbers come in. Temperature. A two-hour ride with an average temperature of 33F. Just one degree above freezing. A minimum temperature of 24.8F. Maximum 48.2 (probably just outside my east-facing garage, which the sun had heated up). How much cred do George, Kevin, Kevin, Eric, Todd and I get for riding when it’s that cold outside?

Truth be told, we were pretty comfortable, partly because we dressed appropriately (even stopping a couple times to add or remove windbreakers), partly because we know enough to ride at a consistent pace so the motor keeps the body warm but doesn’t run out of gas, and partly because we enjoy talking to each other about our recent rides (George just got back from the UCI Cyclocross Masters World Championships, where he took 8th place!) and what’s going on in our lives. Nevertheless, cold is a starkly-definable and easily-dealt-with adversity compared to the rain that is coming our way shortly.

It’s tough to assign a number or otherwise quickly define an epic rain ride. “It was crazy out there, trees blown down, rain so hard your eyes were constantly stinging from the sweat washing down  your forehead, and almost no cars on the road because sensible people were staying home rather than driving in that muck!” Yeah, I’ve had those rides, and during the 3 or 4 day window where people really remember what the weather had been like that day, you get substantial street cred. After that, it’s just another ride in the rain.

But a number defining the temperature doesn’t lie, and translates equally well to the physically-fit and the couch potato. 24.8 degrees. That’s a number that will define today’s ride tonight, tomorrow, next month, 5 years from now, without degredation. At least until I figure out a way to see if my Garmin is reading correctly and not 3-4 degrees too low, which might be the case. :-)     –Mike–

The coast is always warmer. Right?

Kevin and I had to get in a quick ride this morning since our Redwood City store, normally closed Sundays, would be open today for Christmas shoppers. That meant abandoning the usual Sunday-morning routine of saying we’ll get out the door by, say, 9am and not actually leaving until 10:15 or so. Today, if we needed to be out on the road by 8am to get back in time, then we had to be out by 8!

OK, 8:11am was still pretty close. Still had to come up with something that would alleviate the pain of getting on the scale and seeing something unfriendly, so we chose a fast run over 84 to the coast and back via Tunitas. Best thing about that loop is the coast part, because no matter how cold it is on our side of the hill, it’s always warmer near the ocean. Right?

29.7 degrees shown on the Garmin computer; so cold that I had to highly manipulate the image to get it to show up (LCD screens often fade in the cold). The Trek computer registers more slowly and shows 33 degrees. I’m sticking with the 29.87!

Wrong. This morning saw the temps drop nastily in that little section just past the main descent on 84 (prior to LaHonda)… and stay nasty. And I really do mean nasty. As in, 29 degrees nasty. That was not expected, nor was it expected that the temps would stay in the very low 30s until we were within a mile or two of the coast, where it warmed up to a toasty 40 or so. But y’know, 40 sure felt a whole lot better than 30!

Predictably, nobody else was out there on the ocean side of the hill this morning, because they knew. Thankfully, my biggest fear didn’t materialize, that being the likelihood that the parallel valley that the base of Tunitas Creeks runs up, which is only a couple miles from 84, would be similarly cold. Instead, we had near-tropical temps in the low-40s, climbing to mid-40s on our way up the hill. Totally comfortable & nice! Even better, instead of getting the usual cold blast coming down Kings back into Woodside, it actually warmed up (fortunate for the very large numbers of cyclists we saw climbing up the hill this morning).

Were we prepared for the cold? Sorta. We had our best cold-weather gloves, and within a few hours the tips of my fingers didn’t hurt anymore, so I think we did ok there. No problem for the legs, with thermal tights doing a great job. Booties for the feet so the toes were only slightly blue, no biggie. But we could have done a better job up top. Thank goodness Becky had ordered some heavy-duty Pearl Izumi base layers, over which we had a standard Chain Reaction jersey. What was missing? That all-important 3rd layer, a light windbreaker, left at home. Won’t do that again! Actually I had mine with me but Kevin forgot to bring one, and I didn’t think it would be very sporting if I put one on while he suffered. Oh, you think because I’m a parent that I should have loaned it to him? The same kid who will exploit any weakness in my cycling and run me into the ground? Well, I could have not loaned it to him due to spite, but the reality is that I thought he should be taught a lesson so he won’t forget to bring the jacket next time.

The reality of course is that I forgot it was in my seat pack.