January 29, 2012

Berkshire Cycling: Cold Weather Training

This winter's plans include staying in cycling shape, something that in past years has always included cross training with lots of cross-country skiing. Not so  this year. There is not enough snow. Second goal: to learn how cold it can be and still allow for comfortable cycling. That's outdoors cycling. On the stationary setup in my sometimes frigid pantry doesn't count.

My driveway ... not good for cycling
Today I combined the two goals and went back onto the road, this time from home. The thermometer said 31F, or 0C, 13 degrees colder than yesterday and still windy, but sunny again. I was layered up and I love some of these clothes, they actually keep me warm, a hard thing to do. I get cold fast, even indoors, but not in this get-up. Terry cold weather cycling pants....warm warm warm hooray. Just that one layer worked, though my knees got a bit nippy downhill.  I admit it, 5 layers on top. I also love Ibex. Two layers of their spectacularly warm, beautiful wool. And Gore: a long-sleeved Gore base layer, the single most effective shirt I've ever owned for keeping me warm. Gore cap and headband under my helmet. Headband also because I can pull it over my forehead and avoid icecream headaches. Cycling booties over my cycle shoes, and long-fingered gloves.

The sandtruck is at work, reminding me to watch for ice
Why is it the wind always seems to pick up, get blowing pretty well, on my way home. So all the way back was into the wind. My fingers got pretty cold, at least I think that's why I couldn't much bend them when I stopped. Next time, cross-country skiing gloves. And my feet were chilly, the cold mostly coming in through the metal clips and the toes. Maybe someday I'll buy winter cycle boots.

So 30 degrees and windy is ok. Next I'll try 25 if I get a chance

So far as the training goes, I was supposed to ride for 2 hours (making up for my somewhat short day yesterday) on a rolling course staying primarily in heart zones 1 and 2. So I road the 10 miles down to Rt 20 and back. It is rolling, no climbs over 4% (not even over 3%) about 1,000 feet total climb. Dutifully I wore the heart monitor and tried to keep the rate down. Nice and easy was fine with me anyway, I wanted to keep an eye out for ice on the road, or build-ups of sand. The careful reader may remember that the last time I wore the monitor outside uphill, I stopped when it said 182, this time it got nowhere near that.

The kingfishers is still here, saw her working this stream

No way, absolutely no way, can I go up any hill at all and keep my heart rate low. I can keep my breathing quiet and still, I can talk, sing, look for ice, work on French vocabulary ... but my heartrate goes up. Even if I make no noise at all, my heartrate goes up. Zone 1 and 2 ... hah! I cannot ride the bike any slower to keep it down. I tried that.

This was an endurance workout, and I suppose it was nonetheless good for that. But to met the goal of low heartrate, I would have to stay on a flat course, something I never, well almost never, do outside. Or stay indoors. Or change my numbers.

Another reason to watch for ice
For a ride profile, it is here at Map My Ride. The training plan I'm following is from a Gale Bernhardt book, I thought that she might make a nice change this year from Joe Friel.


  1. Wow, Suze, I feel like a total wimp! I don't cycle at all in the snow. I've fallen off on ice before and have no intention of doing that again. We leave the bikes at home and walk everywhere in Jan/Feb, but I do miss my cycling.

  2. Hi Steph, No one who raises children and all those beautiful animals could possibly be a wimp! Bet there is a vegetable garden in the picture too. Actually the main road was clear of ice as long as I stayed off the very edge. And there is much less traffic here when the vacationers and second home owners don't so much visit, so that wasn't an issue.


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