First Outdoor Ride of the Year


The heavens aligned in such a way to allow me the time and good weather to ride outdoors at last. I did mountain bike in Asheville last January, but this ride is in the road category.

I started off with a mechancial issue that almost prompted me to pull my mt bike out and ride that instead. After some fooling around and a small adjustment with an allen wrench I managed to correct the rubbing of my rear brake on the rim. This has happened before so I’ll need to bring that issue to my mechanic when I get the annual tune up.

Then finally I started. It’s cold for me–near 40 degrees and I immediately felt the difference between real life outdoor riding and the warm & cozy safety of my trainer. My quads felt more strain, and the bike felt like I was dragging a load of cement behind me. On the positive side I could rest and let the bike glide; when I’m on the trainer all I do is pedal, pedal, pedal–non-stop.

Hills are another factor I didn’t have to deal with while pedaling away in the man-room in front of the big screen, and my body felt the discomfort of the effort to get up them. The difference was that I did get up them, and without too much of an issue. It was hard but I could do it. I wasn’t that far off from where I left off last year as far as fitness on the bike. That’s very reassuring. Where I live hills are everywhere. Even the flat spots aren’t so flat when you are on a bike. So it was good to be outside for this alone.

My biggest issues are ongoing ones that I can do little about. First off, no matter what the weather (but cold weather it’s worse), I have a period of about 20 minutes when my lungs choke. They fill with a very unhappy body fluid and I spend a lot of time trying to clear them in various unpleasant, unsexy ways. It’s been suggested that I may have sports induced asthma. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve always had this issue, even when I was on my HS track team. After a while the fluid subsides and I settle down.

The second issue was the cold. For the first 9 miles I felt as though tiny ice worms were wiggling their way through my ear cavities and into my gray matter. This was a very uncomfortable sensation, which would have been reduced if I could have only worn my ear warmers. After mile nine I heated up enough to melt the ice worms and enjoy the ride a little more. The other body part to suffer I noticed after mile 9–my feet. I have had this problem before with my feet freezing up. This was something that just got worse as the ride went on. By the time I returned home everything from the balls of my feet to my toes were like blocks of ice. Walking around my house was comical–I nearly fell over twice. An hour later when I hit the shower I still felt tingling in three of my toes and on the pads of my left foot. I looked down and noticed the tips of my toes were actually bluish/purple in color. After some time in the shower they turned an angry red, and now as I type I can feel them again. But it’s two hours later. I think booties may be in order but they just look so silly. Heather swears by them though, so I really should give them a try. –Karen

Ride stats:
Distance: 24.6 miles
Temp: 38 degrees
MPH: 13
Category: OUTDOORS!

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6 responses to “First Outdoor Ride of the Year”

  1. Dorothy W. says :

    Booties definitely help, and so do chemical toe warmers — I swear by those things in fact. I use L.L. Bean’s Wicked Good Toe Warmers, and they’ll keep my toes warm down into the teens. My feet get cold easily, so without toe warmers, there’s no way I could ride all winter!

  2. Karen says :

    Hey Dorothy, Thanks for the toe warmer hint. I may ask for those as a “stocking stuffer” next xmas (pun intended). Seriously–they sound like something that would help me. Thanks!

  3. Dana says :

    I was going to give you the toe warmer tip too and it looks like Dorothy beat me to it. However, one important tip: put the toe warmers on top of your shoes and under your booties. If you put them in your shoes then there won’t be enough air to circulate to keep them warm.

    I’m jealous of your ride. It was a bit chilly here in Maine and the wind was a bit unfriendly. The group is riding tomorrow and I’m planning on being there.

    Spring riding is so much fun, isn’t it???

  4. Dorothy W. says :

    I differ a bit from Dana and like to put the toe warmers inside my shoes — it seems to work for me. But maybe trying them both ways just to see would be a good idea …

  5. susancyclist says :

    For the cold I wear ski socks and PI Calientoes. Toasty.

  6. Leah says :

    I do the toe-covers-with-booties thing too. Plus wool Thorlo socks. Makes a difference.

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