December Riding

Going through my December photos for this post didn’t take long at all, since there were very few to choose from.  It looks like I’ve only been out on the trails once the whole month! A number of excuses come to mind, but it’s mostly because I just haven’t been motivated to get out in the freezing cold.

December Riding
Tom Price on the Seven Steps trail

Bicycle commuting hasn’t been bad. Bundle up and ride at a casual pace. It’s hard not to work up a sweat while you’re out mountain biking though. Even with the best clothes, winter biking is a lot like cooking a frozen burrito in a microwave. Even-heating throughout the burrito is near impossible. Some parts are too hot, others are still frozen.

I got out for ride with the guys in Ash Canyon last Friday. As expected, it was slightly warmer up on the hill than in downtown. We paused at the trailhead for clothing adjustments and stripping jackets, and then began an ascent with the wind at our backs that was actually quite pleasant. Feeling in my fingers started returning by the top of the climb.

The descent wasn’t as pleasant though. We were headed back into the cold north wind, creating a windchill that had to be down in the teens. Eyes were watering, noses were running, and I felt my forehead numbing even under the micro-fleece skull cap. I think I had slight brain dysfunction by the time I got back to the office.

December Riding
Descending the Vicee Rim Trail

I think part of the problem is that we still have dry, fall-like trail conditions, but also have frigid winter air. You can ride just as fast as you could a couple months ago, when really, it’s the time of year when we’re usually plodding along in the snow and mud. The extra rolling resistance and slower speed on the usual winter terrain keeps your body warmer. Plus I think there’s something motivating about seeing the trails in a whole new way. It’s fun to explore the winter wonderland when there’s rideable snow on the ground.

But since it looks like we’re in for several more cold and sunny days, the best thing to do to stay warm is carry some extra gear with you. A small pack with a windbreaker, extra head protection like a balaclava or knit hat that fits under your helmet, and thicker weatherproof gloves for descending would go a long way to keeping the ride fun. Stow the extra gear for the climbs, then bundle up for the downhill.  I never have a problem with my feet overheating in the winter, so stay warm with some neoprene overshoes like the Endura MT500s (reviewed HERE on Bike Carson), or simply go with hiking boots and flat pedals.

How is your winter riding going? Is the cold keeping you off the bike, or have you been braving the elements?

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5 thoughts on “December Riding

  1. 3-4 times a week with the road bike in the warmest part of the day. I took a break from commuting last week but the days will be getting longer, now, and I wish I wasn’t so wimpy. My daughter and I went out to Fish Springs on Saturday and had a great ride but also quite a chill, coming back to Minden at 25 in the face of the cold wind; the chill lingered for hours.

  2. I’ve been hanging in for the daily commute, but there have been some cold toes and fingers involved (and ice in the beard). I relish the fact that I’m making my father proud by “building character”!

    On a side note, I am kinda bummed that I haven’t needed to put on the studded tires this year. I secretly love telling people I have studded tires on a bicycle.

  3. I think it’s good to take a break from the bike in the winter and come back strong when the weather and daylight is better in late winter. I get burnt out if I force myself to ride in the winter and don’t enjoy it because I don’t like the cold and dark.

  4. Boy, today is felt like October out there. Man it is nice, but we do need some moisture. The trails in the Pinenuts are as loose and powdery as I have seen them.

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