Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

Filtering by Tag: cold

Is Winter Back? and other musings

This weather is just awful. My attempt at 30daysofbiking ended on Friday. 35-45 mph winds and sporadic rain, plus the fact that our screen house in the yard was damaged and needed attention before it was totally destroyed. The winds haven't really dropped, the temps haven't gotten out of the 40s, and it's been pouring like hell. I've decided to not ride any of these days. I wouldn't enjoy a bit of it and I don't want to burn out. So I made it 14 days in a row for April plus the last 5 of March. 19 days in a row ain't bad, even if some of those days were only a mile or two. I rode 262.68 miles in that span.

In other news, I went to Performance last Thursday for a bike fitting, just to see if there was any way to make my rides more comfortable, especially those over 30 miles. A few seat adjustments were made as well as the placement of the cleats. He also recommended a shorter stem. It will most likely help a lot with my neck/shoulder/upper back stiffness and soreness on longer rides. It will also help with my breathing and allow me to use the drops more often. I had to order the part and will hopefully get it put on tomorrow. I hope I'm able to try it out before Iowa ;). Non-bike-fit related, I will most likely be switching to a larger outer chain ring in the near future, which will allow higher speeds downhill. This will make it more like the gearing on a road bike instead of a cross bike, and I'll finally be able to go faster than 29/30 mph :)

Lastly - I'm writing this post from a cool new iPad app called Blogsy, which I spent a few weeks beta testing, and which is now available in the App Store. It's the only real option for blogging on the iPad and I like it quite a bit.


The coldest weather I have ever ridden my bike in was 37 at the start of the Pumpkin Pie Metric.  Today, after 50-something days off the bike, I decided to set two personal milestones - earliest outdoor ride of the year (previously Feb. 10th) and coldest temperature.  I looked outside to see a bright sunny day and it didn't seem anywhere near as windy as yesterday, so I checked the weather online.  Hmm.. 17 degrees.  Windchill of 17.  This meant calm.  I decided that if my winter tights fit (I put about 12 pounds on this fall/winter) that I'd give it a go.  They fit.  So I started layering like the younger brother in A Christmas Story and headed out the door, eager to get back on the bike. 

The first 1/2 mile or so wasn't bad at all.  As I turned west it was apparent that the weather report was wrong.  There was a steady 10mph SW wind that was COLD.  My glasses don't wrap-around/hug the face, so the diagonal headwind was pretty much freezing my eyeballs.  I pushed on.  It was cold enough that the Garmin's LCD display started acting up.  I pedalled on. 

Aside from the frozen eyeballs and a heart rate that rivaled that of a hamster on crystal meth, it wasn't too terrible, and dare I say the sections with a tailwind were downright pleasant!

So, my first 10 miles of 2011 are in.  2490 to go to meet my goal for the year.

Here's a pic of everything I wore today, minus the helmet. Note: If you click on the picture, then click 'view on flickr', you can see the pic with notes identifying all the items


For my next cold ride I will add another pair of gloves (and maybe even those handwarmer thingies), foot warmer thingies, and a thick wool codpiece ;)

Guaranteeing a snow-free rest of the winter.

Although it's felt and looked like winter for weeks now, it is only two days old as I write this.  Nevertheless, I think what I did last night will guarantee that the last of the snow has fallen around here - I bought snowshoes.

I've wanted them for years but they can be quite costly, so I never gave them much of a thought.  I rented some a few times.  Then I saw that Costco was carrying a whole kit online for only $80 - the snowshoes, poles, and a carrying bag.  Compared to $150-$300 prices I've seen for just the shoes, this is a pretty good deal - too good to be true.  Oh there it is - they did not have my size available to purchase.  The past week I checked the site at least 3x a day to no avail.  But last night they were available!  I immediately ordered them.  Good thing, because as of this morning they are out of stock again.   Also, if I don't like them for some reason I can just take them back at any time (yay Costco!). 

So, in 7-10 days they will be on my doorstep, and the snow will cease to fall until next November.

Frozen Pumpkin Pie

Sunday had all the makings of a disaster.  I have really cut back riding the last 3 or 4 weeks.  My last few rides over 30 miles have not been too great.  I ate Mexican food for dinner last night but didn't get the rice, so I didn't really carbo load at all.  I drank a large chocolatey caramely espresso coffee sugar-bomb thing at 9:30 Saturday night, resulting in me trying to go to sleep at 11:45, but tossing and turning until 1:30.  The alarm clock went off at 5:20.  By 6 I was out the door and headed to Ottawa for the Starved Rock Cycling Association's annual Pumpkin Pie Ride.  It's a popular ride with JBC members and this year is the first I'd heard of it. 

No rain was in the forecast, but the high wasn't expected to get past the mid-50s with NE winds around 10mph.  They didn't make the route available prior to ride day, but I expected it to go west, meaning a return into a crosswind at the minimum.  I got to the starting point (the YMCA) at about 6:40 and got in line to register.  They had a large route map on the wall, and much to my surprise, the route headed NE!  This meant a headwind on the way out, but a glorious tailwind on the way back.  I am firmly in the camp of "get the wind out of the way ASAP".  In my opinion, it's so much better to deal with headwinds while fresh at the beginning of a ride rather than struggle with them at the end. 

I saw Janet from JBC right away.  She would be riding with her brother-in-law and a few friends.  I saw Jeff from JBC soon thereafter.  Jeff and I had both ramped down time in the saddle the last several weeks, so we decided to ride together, and told Janet we might catch up with them later.

When we left at just after 7am it was 38 degrees.  I was very thankful for the trip to Performance Bike the night before.  I was sporting my new light-mid weight windbreaker, the new head liner (big enough to cover my ears) and my neoprene shoe covers.  I had cycling pants on (no shorts!), a long-sleeved base layer, a short-sleeved jersey, arm warmers, and light wool socks.  I busted out the thick gloves as well, bringing the thin full-fingered ones for later.  The first five miles were brutally cold.  I couldn't believe that just five weeks earlier I was riding a century in temps that were 60 degrees hotter.  The wind that I was happy to see would be in our face for the first 30 miles instead of the second 30 didn't disappoint.  It was rough.  And cold.  Cold.  Cold.  More out of the N than NE, though.

Before we had even made it two miles from the start we encountered our first hill.  Now... I am no longer afraid of hills and actually look forward to them once in a while, but to have one this early on such a cold day was just cruel.  It was much more difficult than it should have been if for no other reason than my leg muscles weren't even close to warmed up.  After about 5 or 6 miles we caught up to Janet and her group and rode with them a few miles. 

Around mile 20 I started wondering if I had zoned out and passed the rest stop.  I was starving.  Thankfully, a  couple miles later we rode into the small town of Sheridan and the rest stop.  Refilled my water and gatorade bottles, then hit the food.  Half a banana, a PBJ, a cookie, and some apples/caramel dip.  And the potato soup.  As I mentioned in the live updating post, the potato soup was awesome.  It was nothing but rehydrated packaged soup, but as cold and hungry as I was, it seemed it was the best thing I've eaten in ages.  As someone on bikeforums put it : "A word on the potato soup -- it was simultaneously the absolute worst canned/dried soup ever and yet, the absolute best tasting, best rest stop food you could desire. I know, odd. I guess you have to ride the ride on a cold morning to believe me. Really."

After a 15-20 minute break we took off for the last 10 miles into the wind. Up to that point my average speed was 13.4.  When we finally reached the turnaround point and started heading SW back to Sheridan and the rest stop I was elated.  Instantly I was doing 20 mph.  It was about this time I noticed it was after 10:00.  I said I'd be home by 1pm and it wasn't looking good.  Jeff was fine with me taking off since he wasn't going to risk bonking from redlining.  So I took off alone.  A mile later I got in behind a couple of guys on a tandem and proceeded to haul ass for a few miles while getting a rest, averaging 22-24 mph.  It was pretty much the only time I drafted anyone - there was no paceline involvement on this ride, so it was a nice, fun, easy few miles.

I pulled back into the rest stop, anxious for more of the yummy soup.  I was devastated when I discovered they had lost power and only gotten it back a few minutes earlier, meaning cold soup.  Instead, I filled my water and gatorade bottles and attacked the PBJ sandwiches, eating three.  I also had another half a banana and a few apple slices.  I removed the arm warmers and switched gloves since I was a bit warm, but opted to keep the shoe covers on since my feet were still a bit cold.  As I was getting ready to leave Jeff came in, and then Janet and her group.  A few minutes later I saw Mark, another JBC member. We all chatted for a few minutes and I took off for the YMCA.

This last 20 miles was pretty lonely.  I only encountered four other cyclists during this time.  One within a mile of leaving the rest stop and the other three within two miles of the end.  The other 17 miles I was alone - just me and (mostly) a tailwind.  During one particular stretch I was unsure if I was even on the right road, as I saw no one else and there were no road markings to reassure me.  I finally saw a marker after about 15 minutes of riding, thankful that I hadn't gone four or five miles off course.

The last few miles were a little tough but not that bad.  As I rode through Ottawa the last mile and a half or so, I again saw no markings.  It was almost as if they ran out of paint ;).  I pulled into the parking lot a little after noon.  63.24 miles total. I went inside to get my piece of pumpkin pie, which I promptly wolfed down before heading home. 

Overall I really enjoyed this ride.  The route had some nice scenic parts, and it was a bit hillier than anything I have ridden previously.  The route layout was also interesting in that there was only one rest stop, which I imagine made it easier logistically.  One thing I haven't run into much happened twice today - dogs.  One of them wasn't listening to its owner at all and really wanted a chunk out of the guy in front of me.  She finally got it to back off.  Still, it's scary, so I think I'll look into getting some of that spray, since 90% of my riding is on farm roads, where dogs run free.



  • Distance 63.2 mi
  • Elevation Gain 2,485 ft
  • Elapsed Time 05:02:51
  • Moving Time 04:04:47
  • Resting Time 00:58:04
  • Average Speed 15.5 mph
  • Max Speed 30.9 mph

The rest of the information can be found here.