Monday, January 11, 2010

Old Man Winter Keeps Coming

Another week of Iowa winter weather. Last week's bitter cold temperatures and wind chills forced me to ride inside 5 out of 7 days. I kept looking at the long range forecast without any satisfaction. Finally towards the end of the week the long range started to look a little brighter with above freezing temperatures forecasted for this week. If it hits 40 it will feel like a heat wave.

When deciding whether to ride inside or out there are a couple factors that push me to my basement other then the obvious cold:

1. How slick are the roads? Laying on the pavement is not as much fun as it used to be even if it is covered with snow. Just ask Doyley how much fun it is after he went down three times a few Sunday's ago. At our age we don't seem to bounce as much as we used to. Going down a couple times in mid December has me a little gun shy.
2. How windy is it? A 10 mph wind is really awful in the winter. What you are wearing is completely different for the head/cross wind then the tail wind. I usually am overdressed and just sweat with the wind. The problem is being sweaty makes you colder so you have to make sure it is a tail wind home.
3. Daylight hours. I have quite a few different light set ups for both my mountain bike and my road bike. I don't mind riding in the dark but with the snow covered roads you have to watch out for the slick spots. These spots are hard enough to see during the daylight let alone at night.
4. How long will it take to get dressed and undressed? Within 5 minutes of walking in the door I can be downstairs riding the trainer. I have a dedicated bike on the trainer that has not seem outside since 1994. To ride outside will take 20-30 minutes of clothing preparation ahead of time plus 10 minutes after. That does not include the time after the ride in the shower to get the chill chased out of my body. More on Winter clothing in my next post.
5. How much "crud" will I get on my bike? The gravel roads are usually pretty dry but the paved roads and city streets can get a little slushy. For this purpose I do have an old mountain bike with fenders and street slicks. That bike is great if there is no snow or ice on the roads. I don't clean my bike very often but the slushy conditions are really hard on them.
6. Do I want to get a specific workout? During the winter I find it hard to get a hard workout outside. Most the time if the roads are snow covered your mission is to keep the rubber side down and the skin side up. Doing intervals, hill repeats or sprints is out of the question. If you do try to push the pace a little at various intervals you just get sweaty which leads to getting colder. Any hard efforts have to be at the end of the head wind or close to home. On my trainer I can do workouts by percent grade or watts. Everything is controlled and I get a great workout.

If the weather is pretty decent and the sun is shining I will decide at work if I will ride outside or in. Once I decide to ride outside I have to head out as soon as I get home and try not to think of all the reasons to ride inside. Now that the Big Dogs mileage mania does not count indoor miles there is some peer pressure to ride outside when possible.

As we head to the downhill side of winter (January 17th the almanac says the average high goes from 29 to 30 degrees) and the days get longer there will be more opportunities to ride outside. Last year was my highest total mileage year with my lowest indoor miles. Hopefully I can break both those marks this year.

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