Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cold. Or maybe not.

My sister-in-law e-mailed me some photos from Phoenix the other day: The fountain that pours water into her swimming pool had a little ice on it because the temperature had dropped to 24 degrees. She said she was wearing multiple layers of pants and shirts in the house.

She was probably exaggerating a little about the layers but, knowing her, not much.

So, naturally, I took this picture of myself after riding to work at 7 degrees and fired it back at her.

I often read about winter cyclists and participants of other outdoor sports conditioning themselves to the cold. Thickening their blood, all that stuff.

I’ve always been suspicious of the idea that we can truly condition our bodies to cold. I mean, what physiological changes could we provoke that would make water-based tissue more comfortable in freezing temperatures? I think it has more to do with gaining experience at layering and preparing for the weather.

And making a mental adjustment, of course.

I used to live about a mile from my sister-in-law. I can remember 30 degrees feeling like an arctic blast. I remember thinking it was dramatic when the dog’s water bowl froze over. Not froze, just froze over. As in a layer of ice one-eighth of an inch thick. Leave a dog’s bowl in my back yard today, and tomorrow morning you’ll have an ice cube.

The more time I spend riding in winter, the better 18 degrees feels. It’s perfect for keeping trails firm, yet warm enough to stay comfortable on the bike.

I think it's just a matter of getting out there and learning to live with it. Refusing to accept that winter means reading bike magazines on the couch for six months. Recognizing that winter passes more quickly when you learn to have a little fun with it.

Thanks for stopping by. Now log off and go for a ride.


Jeff said...

Conditioning yourself to the cold? Everyone knows the only way to get superpowers is by falling in toxic waste, being struck by lighting, being bitten by radioactive arachnids, or by some elaborate laboratory procedure gone horribly wrong. Winter riding is more like being Batman. You lack true superpowers, but just have a lot of cash invested in a fancy suit and bitchin' vehicle.

D A N O said...

I think there is a little truth to adapting to your climate. Here in Wisco I wear shorts year round. In fact there was a period in 03\04 where I wore shorts every day for 14 months.

Winter rides\skiing has never been a issue. I dont put tights on until its under 40 degrees. However, get me to AZ or Cali and I will suffer for weeks until I adapt.