The day began cold. At the time I hopped on my bike to go meet Ed it was 33 degrees (F). I am certain that I have never ridden in colder weather. Why was I doing this now?
Actually the why part is easy. That was the day Ed was available, I like riding with Ed and Ed did one of those “are you a man” things to me. How could I resist?
It was really freakin’ cold. Other than the fahrenheit it was a beautiful autumn day. Sunny sky and hardly any wind. Except that the act of riding creates wind. It felt cold.
I reminded myself that there was a time when I would run in temps as low as 20 F as long as the wind was not too strong and it was not snowing at the time. Then I remembered that I was 25 years younger in those days.
Ok. How to dress. Leave as little uncovered skin as possible. Since the legs would be moving focus on keeping warm from the waist up.
Five layers from waist to neck. Light “wicking” long sleeve shirt as a base. Covered by a heavier base layer, a biking shirt (not much for heat but in honor of the event), a hooded sweatshirt (don’t use the hood but this helps provide next coverage, and a windbreaker. Running tights and bike shorts. Left the nylon windbreaking pants at home. Turned out to be the right call but only barely. Heavy pair of bike socks, full finger bike gloves, head covering that looks like a large yarmulke but also covers my ears under the helmet.
Not sure at the start if this is enough but it was time to go. I bike 9 miles to where I meet Ed and I did not want him standing around in the cold. Initially I am chilled but it is manageable. By the 45 minutes it takes to meet Ed most of me is tolerably comfortable. The index fingers in both hands are truly cold. Can’t seem to warm them up. I wish I had mittens instead of gloves.
11 miles later we are in Lake Forest at our turning around point. Normally I do not like to take long breaks during rides but I insist on heading to Starbucks. By now my entire right hand feels like an ice-cube. It hurts.
A round of hot tea for all — all being Ed and me. There are other bikers in the place. Lake Forest is a wealthy north suburb of Chicago surrounded by other wealthy suburbs. I could not afford a house in that town. Maybe 1/3 of a house. The point being that while Ed and I have a hodgepodge of clothes on, these other bikers have hi-tech winter riding gear. From the fancy jackets to outsized riding shoes, (probably with electric, computer controlled warming devices inside — just a guess) they look ready for any weather.
As we warm up I suppress the urge to scream as my right hand thaws. The pain is intense. But the warm of the room and the tea does its magic. I am ready for the 20 miles back home. As a pleasant surprise, the temp has risen by several degrees and the cold is not a problem for the remainder of the ride. The fact that I am out of shape and my leg muscles ache is another story for another post.
Of course, as I pen this post the next day, it has been a beautiful day with a high of sixty. Much better riding weather. But not as good of a story.