Tuesday, February 17, 2009

5 Tips for Long, Cold Bike Rides

Score! It's sunny!
Boo! It's freezing!

It has been deceptively cold in LA these past few weeks, but people on a mission (Ironman, road races, whatever) are still heading out in droves to get their bike training in and they seem to be enjoying themselves.

How is this possible? They have figured out how to dress for the weather, which, at 45-55 degrees, is really not that bad, especially if you compare it to, oh I don't know, the current weather in Madison.

If you've been frostbitten one too many times trying to ride in 50-ish degree weather, you're not alone. It wasn't too long ago that severe "cold wuss" syndrome had me on my trainer way more than I ever wanted to be.

A distaste for working out inside and an REI gift card brought about a quick transformation.

If one of the only reasons you enjoy working out is to be one with the outdoors, it's time to get on the layering bandwagon and back in the peloton. Here are 5 tips to keep you warm and happy for your cold-weather rides, even if they last 10+ hours.

  1. LAYER- Under shirt, jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, wind jacket, wind vest, skull cap, booties / toe warmers, thick socks, thick gloves. It sounds like a lot, but in spandex form, it isn't. Layering will ensure you have enough to keep you warm on descents and at the start of your ride.
  2. Wear a CAMELBAK- If you sweat profusely out of your head (like coachubby) or hands (like coachubby) or all over the place (like coachubby) you might want a second pair of gloves, probably don't want a skull cap at all, and ought to carry a second jersey. These, along with the gallons of gatorade you're going to drink on a monster long ride, can easily be stored in a Camelbak like this MULE. (Be warned, though, your buddies will want to stuff their extra clothes in it, too, when they realize their pockets aren't enough for food and shedding layers.)
  3. Shed and Dress- Shed for climbs or hard efforts, put your clothes back on for descents and high speed cruising. The idea is you don't want to soak your clothes. If you wear them all to go up, you'll turn into a human Popsicle coming down. Purple is not a pretty skin tone on anyone. Except a grape.
  4. Cover your feet (and head and hands!)- Don't want to spend a fortune on booties? Toe warmers and wool socks (try these!) are a great idea. And if you don't give a hoot about what roadies think about your fashion sense, and would like to cruise by them all warm and happy, make your own booties. Take a pair of old ski socks, cut holes in the bottom for your cleats, and put them on around your shoes. They'll keep your ankles and toes nice and warm and happy--and they'll keep any non-triathlete members of the household involved in financial decisions happy, too.
  5. Wear a wind vest- No, it doesn't have to be road-worker orange or yellow, although I am a fan because I have decided to forgo color coordination in favor of visibility. (If someone on the road goes, "Hey, you look like a clown!" smile and be happy that they SAW you instead of hitting you...and then pray they don't hit you for looking like a clown.) It's amazing how such a thin piece of clothing, which can easily be unzipped and stuffed into a pocket (or Camelbak!) can make such a ginormous difference in your comfort, particularly descending. Buy one. You can justify it by saying it's a lot less than a trip to the hospital for hypothermia. Or road rash from crashing because you were shivering so badly.
Happy cold weather riding!

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