First off, I would just like to point out that The Viva Kilo is still available, and would make a wonderful gift for Santa to just happen to drop under your tree this year, for yourself or for a loved one. I don’t know about you, but Santa often stops by eBay and buys me something this time of year (he always seems to know what new vintage Mexican silver ring I’m most interested in, for instance). Wouldn’t The Viva Kilo look great with a big, blue bow? Since the bike is totally non-denominational, it will also look wonderful near a menorah or beside a Festivus pole. I’m sure it would allow many “feats of strength,” should such things be your bag this time of year!
Anyway, the cold has really settled in to stay here in the Great White North. We’ve had days of near-freezing or sub-freezing weather. But at least there hasn’t been much rain! Still, with the evenings coming so early, it’s been hard to find the time and the desire to get out and ride when it’s so darn cold!
In the summer, my rides are routinely 2.5-3 hours in length, usually hitting between 25 and 30 miles. Given that the air is so cold, I’m finding that I just don’t have the endurance to be out for that long right now. The thing about a vintage Raleigh is that I’m never exactly slamming through the ride. I barely break a sweat on most summer rides, never mind winter ones. These means I’m usually too chilly, and I have trouble ever getting warm enough to compensate.
Whether it’s due to my disease, or just to a chance of fate, I have a sub-disease called Reynaud’s Phenomenon. This just means that my circulation is poor to my fingers and toes, so they’re often icy, no matter if the weather is mild. It takes forever for any effort to change my body temperature, so that by the time I get warmed up, I’m usually feeling like I want to be finished anyway.
I decided that since it was another sub-freezing day, I was going to do a reasonably short ride near home. There isn’t much point in driving somewhere on our complex freeway system only to ride for just an hour or so. The Cedar River Trail is pretty this time of year, and seems to stay relatively free of ice. It’s also minutes from my house. So off I went, with tons of gear in my car. Like a Vintage Ride Boy Scout, I was determined to combat the cold by Being Prepared.
With the temperature hovering in the low thirties, I figured that I might want to wear something warmer than my usual thin technical jacket. What about down? I love my down puffy jacket this time of year. I wear it for skiing, as well as just everyday living, and with a windbreaker over it, I may look like the Michelin Man, but I can be out on the slopes for hours.
For years I have longed for a down puffy jacket, but never had the guts to buy one. My ex was obsessed with me owning only “sexy” clothes (he had this irrational thing against clogs, for instance, and backless shoes, as well as puffy down jackets). For reasons I can only now ponder with unease, I found it easier to just give in than to argue endlessly with him. Once I finally divorced him, did I run out and buy clogs? Well, yes, actually. But the down puffy was still a bit daunting. My relationship with My Generous Partner was still new when we were perusing the racks at a great store in Seattle called Second Ascent. They sell climbing gear, among many other things, and have a rack or two of second-hand coats. I pulled out a grape-colored down jacket at a low price, in seamingly-perfect condition. I bought it. As we left the store, with me now swathed in my enormous purple puffy, I turned to My New Man and said sheepishly: “Guess this isn’t very sexy, is it?”
He said, without batting an eye: “You look warm, so I think it suits you.”
That when I knew he was a Keeper.
So, though the jacket is much-loved and appreciated by me now (the next Christmas, he bought me down camping slippers. Greatest. Gift. Ever.), I was worried about it actually being too warm to ride in. Still, I thought, worth a try.
So I donned my fleece long-underwear under my regular nylon outdoor pants, grabbed both my beanie and my balaclava, and my lobster gloves. I was ready! Upon reaching the trail, I decided: down, beanie, lobsters.
I made it half a mile, then turned around and put on the not-down jacket, fleece balaclava, and lobsters. The down jacket wasn’t just too warm, it was also too cold: without the windbreaker, the icy air came in through the sleeves as I moved. But once I’d bundled up, the ride wasn’t unpleasant. I loaded up with tissues for my streaming nose (see the basket above for evidence), and headed back out on the trail.
I like using the fleece balaclava, which My Much-Loved Man gave me for Christmas last year (he’s a thoughtful one!). The mouth covering stands out a bit from one’s… uh… mouth, and therefore though it gets damp from my breath, it doesn’t touch my skin, so I don’t mind. Instead, it creates a little pocket of warm air to breath, especially when I stop moving. Though I had to switch over to the thinner pads inside my Nutcase helmet, it doesn’t otherwise get in the way, nor is it too warm.
I’m going for the Isabelle-Adjani-in-Ishtar-Look:
Well, almost… at least this ride wasn’t a disastrous failure at the box office!
I rode about 12 miles, total, taking a brief detour down an unpaved path toward the river. I’ve ridden this path before, but with the gravel and the wet leaves, it was a bit unnerving:
Fortunately, the decently wide Schwalbe’s are stable on most surfaces. This little trail lets me get right down to a wee pebbled beach. The Raleigh looks particularly lovely near the water, don’t you think?
I was able to finish out the ride with just chilled fingertips (the lobsters are good, but ain’t no glove good enough to keep my fingers warm, I tell ya). Overall, a fun foray.
The next day was beautifully sunny, and a perfect day for riding, but it was even colder. The Lovely Guy suggested that I ditch the kids with him and get outside, but in the end, I just wasn’t up to another freezing excursion. Ah well, summer will come again… someday…
Here’s a last shot of The Raleigh’s little saddlebag with my two pins from Urban Adventure League, one of which I had to steal back from my kids, who thought they really wanted bike-related pins when they arrived, but then left them laying around to be reappropriated by me!