Sunday, February 1, 2009

Poor-man's feet warmers and 620 @ 15 mph

I'm a notorious wimp when it comes to biking in cold temperatures. For me, anything below about 50 degrees seems cold. Mainly it is my feet and hands that get particularly cold and make the entire bike ride miserable. I have toe-warmers that cover the front of my cycling shoes, but they don't block the wind effectively. Enter the poor-man's foot warmers.

I was on the verge of buying shoe covers or booties so I can avoid another marathon session on the bike trainer, climbing the walls. Jack Murray (Jack And Adams Bike Shop Rules - Shameless Plug) suggested a simple solution that would get me through to spring without having to spring for the booties.

This morning I geared up for my cold weather ride (it was 48). I had a long-sleeve heat shirt, a jersey, arm-warmers, leggings and gloves (I told you, I'm a wimp). To keep my feet warm I put on thick socks and then stuck my feet into an plastic HEB bag. I then put the shoe on over them. Wah-lah. Instant warmth for the feet. I rode 53 miles and I could feel my toes the entire time. Thanks Jack. That brings me to the second part of my post.

I intended to do an out and back from my house down 620 to Anderson Mill and then out Parmer for a little cruise, nothing hard. My plan was to go out about 1 1/2 hours (Approx 25-30 miles) and turn around. The ride started off pretty tough. There's good hill coming out of my neighborhood and my legs were a little dead from yesterday's run. But the hill was a little harder than it should've been. At the top of the hill, I checked my bike, the front brake was rubbing. DOH!!!

The wind seemed very calm and I was cruising along nicely, a little too nicely, I was to learn later. Going out Parmer was a snap, I was cruising up the hills at 22 mph, boy those indoor T3 cycling classes are really paying off, I thought. The only wind seemed to be blowing in from the west. I made my turn around at 26.5 miles in a little over an hour and twenty minutes. This is great. Then I turned around.

I was greeted with a fairly strong Southwest wind. It became clear in short order that I would beat up against the wind for the entire 26 miles back to the house. When you're in a constant headwind you just have to find a gear you can spin comfortably and deal with it. I made it down Parmer and Anderson Mill over to 620. The wind was coming down 620 like a wind tunnel. I was dead into it at this point. Rather than spinning out in the small ring, I decided to try grinding it out in the big ring, my thought being that the wheels will go just that much further with each revolution of the pedals. I looked down at my speed....14 mph...a little downhill..17 mph...flat....15 mph. It was a disagreeable experience. I ground it out and got back to the house right at 3 hours. It took an hour and 40 minutes to get back. I averaged 18 mph for the day. Good times.

I keep telling myself, I've ridden in worse conditions. Like Ironman Arizona 2007 when the strength of the wind dislodged a "tumbleweed" the size of a Volkswagen and took out a rider. More of a tumble-bush. So keep your head's down and keep riding.

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