As I write this, the wind is whipping around my home office window. I left work this evening with 74 degrees showing on my car thermometer. When I got home, it had fallen to 63. I just got back from walking the dog, and it’s now 53. We’ll be in the 40s overnight, and it looks like the weekend will be a cool one.
Riders elsewhere in the country and other parts of the globe are probably snickering. They’ve already gone through bigger temperature drops than this — and are already feeling the onset of winter temperatures.
But what happens to your bike riding when the weather changes like that?
My natural reaction is to throw on a sweater and cozy up to the TV — or maybe snuggle up with a book. I should be figuring out how I’m going to adapt my bike riding to colder conditions.
The answer is simple: Keep riding.
The daily temperature drop isn’t that drastic, to begin with. So if you ride one day in summer kit, maybe all you have to do when the weather turns chilly is put on a long-sleeved jersey and a base layer. That’s not a big change.
“If you keep on riding each day as the temperatures slowly decrease, you’ll be more acclimated to the weather each day,” says Emilia Crotty, the Education Manager of Bike New York. She says you kind of trick yourself into believing that there’s not that much difference from day to day.
“Personally,” she adds, “when I’m feeling lazy or am in the middle of a good book, getting back on my bike on a cold winter morning is difficult! The more frequently I ride in the colder months, though, the less dramatic the temperatures feel.”
There’s an added benefit to continued riding. “The more frequently I ride in the fall and winter,” says Crotty, “the better I am at gauging how many layers I’ll need, what type of gloves will do the trick, if I need a balaclava, etc. each morning (when I check the morning temperature and wind chill, that is).”
So resist the urge to roll over and pull up the covers when the fall mornings are cool. Get out there and ride. You know it’s good for you on several levels — but you’ll also build up your tolerance for cold weather.