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.
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.
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?