Sunday, December 6, 2009


Going stir-crazy on a Sunday morning, I decided to give some cold-weather distance riding a try. Based on previous, overdressed and overheated attempts when the temperature was in the 40s, I didn't bundle up as much: just a T-shirt, sweatshirt, balaclava and winderbreaker/shell. Fleece sweats, thick insulated gloves, ski helmet. Trés fashionable.

Figured I'd stay close to home and do the Springbrook Prairie trail (see previous entry on this trail). When I arrived at the trail head, I slipped on my secret weapon: ski goggles left over from the same Breckinridge vacation catastrophe that produced the helmet I was wearing. On previous cold-weather rides, the icy wind made my eyes water heavily -- not just unpleasant, but dangerous since it was like trying to see oncoming traffic through a waterfall.

I snapped the goggles on and started down the trail. The crushed limestone was hard as pavement in the 32-degree morning. A light southwest breeze was starting up. The prairie was a sea of muted browns and grays under weak sunlight filtering through a milky sky.

The goggles were a godsend. Not only did they prevent the eye-waterfalls, they kept the upper half of my face warm. Soon I had to stop and lose the thick insulated gloves (an Ace hardware bargain-bin bargain at $4.99!) and open then armpit vents on the shell to let some of the heat out.

The trail wasn't as deserted as I thought it would be. I onyerleft-ed several joggers and nodded to biker or two as I circumnavigated the forest preserve.

Once I warmed up, the ride was actually pleasant despite the freezing temperatures. "I can do this," I said to myself. There's no reason to store the bike away all winter and content myself with a stationary bike at the gym or the trainer down in the basement. A 10- or 15-mile ride in two or three times a month will go a long way toward helping me maintain my sanity through the long winter.

And maybe those lunatics at Bike Winter are on to something.

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