Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter of my discontent

Some of you may not know this but I strongly dislike riding the trainer. The trainer is essentially a resistance wheel that you clamp your bike onto and it simulates the resistance of riding outdoors. The benefit of a trainer is that you can ride indoors and avoid poor weather but the drawbacks are many. The bike is clamped and therefore it doesn't feel very real because the bike never moves when you pedal. The resistance wheel is a poor replicator of actual riding as it is constant and outdoor rides are anything but constant. Lastly and most importantly trainer rides are boring and don't offer any of the escape that I so enjoy on outdoor rides. As you may noticed I have recently purchased lights for my bike in order that I won't have to ride indoors on weekdays, instead I can still ride after work with the lights attached to the bike (as a side note, I tend to stick to roads that are well lit on my night rides, just to be on the safe side).

The downfalls of riding at night are the lack of light and of course, the cold. We have had a particularly cold spell here in Northern California and although it hasn't stopped me from riding, it certainly has shaken my resolve to ride. I won't lie in saying that riding in the cold can be miserable and my last two rides have been particularly unbearable. I rode on Thursday evening for about 25 miles and I can admit that I was frozen by the time I got back (my bike computer said the average temperature was 42 degrees). It took a hot shower to thaw my extremities. As bad as that was, Saturday mornings ride was much worse. I had plans to go for a very long ride and left early (7:30) to take advantage of all of the light. As it was, the temperature was 34 degrees when I started to ride and despite having the warmest of my clothing on, it was certainly not enough. After an hour, I needed to stop as I was having trouble feeling my arms and they were starting to fail in supporting my upper body. I was at the point where I had gone past numb and the cold was starting to get painful. I stopped at a gas station, drank a hot chocolate, and tried to warm up. This was mostly futile and I knew I needed to turn around. I headed back and can admit that it started to warm up but the only thing that actually made a difference was that I started to ride harder in order to try and raise my heart rate and core temperature. Upon my return, a hot shower was the only remedy and I have vowed to learn that on weekends I will wait for it to warm up prior to riding.

I learned my lesson today and this morning Kelsey and I went up to napa to try a bakery that we had heard about it was delicious. It is called Bouchon Bakery and they make wonderful croissants, pastries, and sweets and after we got back I made the trek up Mt. Diablo for the first time in months. As a side note, the tour of California will be finishing on Diablo in May in what is being billed as the queen stage of the race (the queen stage is the biggest and toughest stage of the race). I rode to the junction as there was cloud cover further up and I wasn't looking to ride on wet roads any further. It was a good effort and I plan on starting to pick up the intensity from this point further.

I have included this photo to show all of the items that I carry/wear on a winter ride. From bottom to top - shoes, socks, shoe covers, knee warmers, bib shorts, undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, thermal vest, heart rate strap, food, pump, earphones(so I can listen to my books on tape), cycling computer, sandwich bag for phone, helmet, cycling cap, sunglasses, keys, gloves, water bottles. Depending on the length of ride I will carry 1 or 2 water bottles, 1 is always full of water and the second with a drink mix (contains salt, sugar and some flavoring). I will usually try to carry some food, mostly granola bars or gels of some sort. It takes me about 15 minutes to get fully dressed and ready to ride. Considering that it takes me about 5 minutes to get ready in the morning, the process of getting ready for a ride can seem like an eternity.

I took this picture on my way down Diablo. It is starting to turn green around here and is starting to look like what I always imagine Ireland looks like.
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