The Weather Wuss

That’s me. I haven’t been posting much lately because I haven’t been riding much lately. And I haven’t been riding much because the weather has been lousy around here.

Not only has it been cold — okay, cold in Austin is anything below 40 degrees (4C) — but it’s been wet, too. We’ve had lots of rain over the last week, and even if it was midsummer, I probably wouldn’t do any riding. But with daytime temps not getting out of the 30s, the bike was not on my mind.

Icicles in Austin. Not a common sight.
Icicles in Austin. Not a common sight.

Now, I know lots of you ride in much colder weather. You know what’s keeping me from joining you? I’ve become a weather wuss. I grew up around Chicago, and lived for more than 20 years in Minnesota. I can handle the cold. That is, I used to be able to handle the cold. Fifteen years down here and my blood has thinned out. We were in Minnesota in November a couple of years ago, and I thought I was gonna die! Not really, but man, was it cold. I’m glad I moved away from it.

Living in a mild climate means you don’t have an abundance of cold-weather riding gear, either. I can bundle up to handle anything down to about that magic 40-degree mark, but not much colder than that.

So, guess what I did Sunday? I rode the bike! Took it out in the afternoon for a little over an hour. It was sweet. Never thought 45 degrees could feel so temperate.

But Monday, when I had planned to get out again, it didn’t happen. I wandered outside around 2 p.m., stood around for awhile, and decided it wasn’t as nice as Sunday. Maybe Tuesday. Maybe.

A Week Without Cycling

First it was our home remodeling project. Then it was a work obligation. Now, it’s the weather. All the stars have been in alignment over the past week to keep me off my bike.

Central Texas is under a Winter Weather Advisory. That’s nowhere near as serious as much of the country is facing right now, but in an area that seldom gets snow, these kinds of weather events are cause for consternation. It’s been raining on and off since Friday, sometimes heavily. That’s enough to keep me from riding. But the temperature has dropped to the mid-30s (2C), and that’s below my threshold for riding. I don’t have clothes that will keep me comfortable at anything lower than 40.

This past weekend was also that rare time when I’m tied up with work-related things. In this case, I emceed a conference for students all day Saturday. That wouldn’t have been a problem if I could get on the bike Sunday, but as I said, rain and cold together do not biking weather make.

But Thanksgiving is coming up quickly. I get to take Wednesday off work, and we don’t have to work Friday — so I expect lots of riding in the next few days. The forecast is going to moderate, too. We’ll be up to 70 (21C) by Sunday! All I have to do is dig my bike out from under all the remodeling waste in my garage.

How Cold Will You Go?

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Met a small contingent from the club this morning for our ride. No other B riders showed up, so it was me and seven A’s. They pretty much disappeared by about eight miles into the ride, and I was on my own again. No problem — I enjoy riding by myself.

But I did have to attend to some housekeeping. The temperature when I left the house was a cool 45 degrees (7C). I might have overdressed a little, and by now I was feeling overheated. I stopped in a high school parking lot, and traded my full-finger gloves for my fingerless, and stashed my ear warmers in my jacket pocket. I figured I would shed some more layers when I reached my turnaround point, another six or seven miles down the road.

I really enjoy riding in the kind of weather we had today. It was a beautiful fall day, with bright sunshine and temps on the cool side. It reminded me that the cold weather still has yet to reach Central Texas — but it will. January and February often see winter-like temperatures, even if we rarely get snow.

I started thinking about my northern friends, who have been riding in colder weather than this for some time. I’m from the north myself, although when I lived up there, I wasn’t really a cyclist. I wondered if I would have what it takes to face the kind of cold conditions they regularly deal with.

And that got me wondering — just how cold am I willing to go to get in a ride?

For me, it’s about 40 degrees (4C). Mainly, that’s because the biking clothes I own won’t keep me warm at lower temperatures. I think the coldest it ever was when I started a ride was 38, and that warmed into the 40s fairly quickly.

Thirteen years in Austin’s mild (and ridiculously hot in the summer) climate has had its effect on me. I’m not as cold-tolerant as I used to be. But I’m not the biggest wimp on the block. One of my cycling acquaintances, who has years more riding experience than I do, told me he doesn’t ride when the temperature gets below 55. What?

Meanwhile, a couple of the guys came to this morning’s ride dressed in just base layers, a short-sleeved jersey, and arm warmers. It would have to be in the 60s before I dressed like that.

How about you? Have you started riding in really cold morning temperatures already? How cold does it have to be before you decide to stay indoors? Or do you ride all winter long? And if you do — how do you cope?