I made a fairly significant cold-weather riding blunder yesterday. Two of them, actually, in a row which compounded to lead to a very cold Ez. The first one could almost be excusable. After doing my LW Coaching prescribed workout, I found myself up at the Ned Co-op, home of flourless chocolate cupcakes. I’d been dreaming of said cupcake for the entire ride, so I went in, purchased the Embodiment of Happiness, and savored ever last moist chocolately bite, saving the frosting for last. Then I pointed my bike towards home via Sugarloaf, which for those not bike riders in the Boulder area, requires a climb out of Ned, a descent, another climb, a long descent, another climb, and then an even longer descent into Boulder city limits where it’s all uphill home for me. All the uphills are significant (5-10 minutes long), and I’d reasoned that I’d stop and swap sweaty gloves out for dry ones and put my down jacket on at the top of the second climb, before the downhill got significant (longer than 5 minutes). I didn’t want to get my dry clothes even remotely sweaty.
What I’ve failed to mention here is that it was 7 degrees out when I left the house, 11 when I got up to Ned. It was not a warm day out.
I climbed happily out of Ned and paused, mentally at least, at the top of the hill and pondered doing the clothing swap there. ‘Nah,’ I convinced myself. ‘This down isn’t that big, the the first Sugarloaf climb will make you sweat.’ So down I went, sub-warm.
And then I ran into JD riding in the opposite direction. Wanting to document the moment for LW, just to show her that she really did pick some crazies to coach for 2013, we stopped, I pulled off my sweaty gloves, and we futzed around trying to take a picture of Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum. Plus, JD had an awesome ice goatee going.
Eventually, JD pedaled off and I decided to do my glove/jacket switch only to find that I’d completely lost my hands. 11 degrees, damp hands, Peak to Peak wind. Go figure. ‘Well, crud,’ I thought to myself, looking at my fingers which were completely useless. How am I going to get my shell off, my down jacket on and zipped up, shell back on and zipped up, gloves on, and then back into pogies?
I guess this is why we practice things we want to be able to do. Practice riding bikes, practice dealing with the cold, practice in life.
So I took a deep breath, shoved my hands under my armpits (I would have gone with down my pants, but I was in a semi-populated area), told myself ‘You’re going to be okay’ and proceeded to undress and redress myself using a combination of teeth and frozen fingers. I wiggled my down-gloved hands back into my pogies and started uphill. By the top, circulation had returned, I could feel a slight bit of sweat building, the sun was shining, and I only had 3,000 feet of downhill, straight into an inversion to contend with.
Practice what you want to be good at, and you’re going to be okay.