Tuesday, March 31, 2009

winters end review

I meant to do this ten days ago. And I really meant to blog more than once in the month of March. But I did not. So I'll write this post with much goodly goodly quality.
The winter was so so long. But I rode more than I would have ever dreamed I could. I commuted to school an average of four days a week, with another ride or two on the weekend. I learned a lot about riding in the cold through trial and error (by a lot, I mean I learned everything that I now know.) I put in great base for the upcoming race seasons, both mountain bike and running, and I learned to be tough on the bike.

January was bitter. As I look back through my ride journal, numbers like 2:05 hrs at 2*F, and 1:58 at -3* stand out at me. Here in my warm house, I can hardly believe I rode through crap like that. For added craziness, I recorded all my temperatures without the windchill. I can only imagine how cold it really was moving at 15mph through -3*F. If memory serves, for about 25 days of 2009's opening month, the mercury did not break 15*F. I logged 197 miles and 15 hours from 1-13 to 1-31. Brr.

With most days above 10*F, February felt mild. By the middle of the month, I started getting my clothing right. The recipe for success was toe covers with thick wool socks, wool tights under knee warmers with polypoo tights over top, all covered by windbreaking pants. On top a wool shirt squeezed under a wool jersey was comfortable down to 25 degrees. I put a soft shell on for really cold days. Ski gloves, hat and turtle fur neck warmer kept the extremities comfy. I only needed ski goggles in driving snow or hail (didn't ever have them in those conditions. of course.) The majority of the time, I was fine with regular sunglasses.

All most all of my winter miles were on the fixed gear. Until the day I had to chop off a canti stud because of a frozen brake, I was running a mountain tire in the front and a cross tire in the rear. I used a clip on rear fender and a homemade licence plate fender for the front. I stayed reasonably dry, and never had a problem with slipping in car snot.

Commuting every morning in the dark manages to somehow suck while being cool at the same time. I had to leave at 6:30 to make it to school by 7:20. On the especially dark, snowy mornings, I could hardly tell I was moving (except for the tingle my slowly freezing cheeks (the facial variety of course)) It was sort of like being in a deprivation tank. Very cool experience.

I did not get to ride many trails. On the rare days that a could hitch a ride with the lady bear up to hidden valley, I found myself wishing for a fat bike. On one particular ride, my front tire was punching through the snow about ever ten feet. I would just drop through and stop. Not fall over or crash, just stop. It got annoying. But the snow did make it easy to get the heart rate up. And toe covers are not good for hike a bikes.

This winter had its good moments, but overall it was rough. I'm so ready for hot and humid weather.

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