“Let’s ride,” said my wife on Saturday morning.
“You’re on,” I replied.
I checked the temperature. It was a chilly 42 degrees outside (5 Celsius). She confirmed it by walking into the backyard.
“Oh oh — we’re covering the legs today,” she said.
By the time I got on the bike, I was dressed in shorts, leg warmers, two pairs of socks, a base layer t-shirt, arm warmers, summer weight jersey, windbreaker with detachable sleeves, full-finger gloves. I felt just right in the driveway, as I waited for Pat to clip in. Feeling just right at the start of a ride is never good. You always want to feel a tad chilly. Your pedaling will warm you up.
But as we set off, a brisk wind from the southeast smacked us in the face. Maybe I dressed right after all, I mused. We headed out for a Mopac loop at Pat’s suggestion. The wind buffeted us on the way south, but when we turned west, it was helping. By the time I reached the top of the only decent hill on the route and stopped to wait for Pat, I was feeling warmth on my back and sweat on my brow.
She caught up to me, and I could see that she’d unzipped the zipper of her fleece jacket, although the neck gaiter was still in place. Pedaling up the hill after a week’s layoff from the bike bothered her more than the warming temperature.
I asked if she wanted to do a Veloway lap after Mopac.
“No, I’ve had enough,” she said. I told her I would ride awhile longer when we got to an intersection near the house.
I set out for Convict Hill. Usually when I do this ride on Saturday mornings, I hit Convict Hill first, then do a Mopac loop, then a Veloway loop. It all adds up to a nice 27-miler and is my usual Saturday morning ride.
As I approached the climb up Convict Hill, I noticed the runners on the local streets. Most of them were in shorts and t-shirts. A few wore long-sleeved t-shirts. No one was bundled up for the cold like I was. I did a quick assessment of my kit. I hadn’t removed any of it from the time we started. Now, I had close to 17 miles under my wheels, and I could feel the soaked base layer and jersey clinging to me. Time to shed the windbreaker, I thought to myself.
Problem was, the wind was still pretty brisk — between 12-15 mph. When it hit my sweat-soaked clothing, it had an immediate cooling effect. I didn’t like the idea of keeping the windbreaker on, but I was concerned that taking it off now would just invite chills later.
I rode up the hill. Isn’t it interesting how hills that you’re used to doing early in the ride become a lot harder after you’ve been riding for over an hour? I was winded at the top, and pulled to the curb to stop, drink some water, and tend to my kit.
Given the fact that the wind didn’t seem to be letting up in the least, I still didn’t want to give up the windbreaker. I unzipped part way to at least let some of the heat escape from my upper torso. I figured that would be enough. At a stoplight several minutes later, another cyclist made a left turn in front of me. He was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved jersey. With the gusty wind, I still felt cool. I wondered how he was doing.
Better than me, evidently. I added another four miles to the ride home (could have done it in just under two) to bring my total mileage to my usual Saturday morning 27. But when I got to the garage, I was spent. The sun was out now. The temperature was 68 degrees (20 Celsius). I was soaked through and through.
I’ve done goofy things like this before. I know that as cooler weather becomes the norm, I’ll be better prepared for it. I started out the day dressed for 42 — but what I hadn’t factored in was that it wouldn’t be 42 for long. Just getting rid of the windbreaker’s sleeves probably would have handled most of the situation — and I could have taken off the leg warmers later on. I just wish I didn’t have to re-learn this lesson every year.