Here we go again

Full winter kit on and I was still cold. Note the frost covered grass...a real rarity here in Southwest Florida.

It’s a new year, three hundred sixty-five days, plus one, and an empty cycling calendar to fill up…that is if the Aztek’s calendar gaffe doesn’t cut the year short. My take is that they just didn’t find a rock big enough to add another circle or two of funky pictures.

Cosmological shenanigans aside, it was high time Señor J and I got on our bikes and started to tick the odometers over on our cyclocomputers. We actually had to defer a few days as the weather had not really been ideal for cycling, in fact warm sunny Florida has recently been a bit of an ice box…hmmm perhaps the Aztek’s were right.

With morning temperatures hovering in the middle 30’s with 30 mph gusts and high temperatures only in the low 60’s, riding was going to be very inhospitable….or better yet outright painful, so we waited a few days for the weather to sort itself out. Anxious to ride and with a less severe weather report for the day, we elected to ride this morning.

I broke out my full winter kit as ride time temperature was 39°. My riding regalia included a Voler base layer, a heavier (non-thermal) Garneau jersey, Sugoi Subzero tights, my atomic yellow colored windproof shell and long fingered gloves. Señor J, hating the cold far more than I do showed up with multiple base layes, thermal jersey, tights, full fingered gloves, neoprene shoe covers, windproof shell, a balaclava and a layer of newspaper (this is an old time tested standby in cycling…it sounds strange, but a layer of newspaper under your jersey is one of the best insulators around, best of all, if it warms up, just throw it away…no extra gear to have to carry).

We headed out towards Tree Line boulevard trying to establish some type of regular cadence in the biting cold. The completely frosted over grassy embankments were a visual confirmation of what my ears were telling me…it was frickin’ cold! My cold weather gear was holding up pretty well as my core was comfortable, but by mile 14, my feet went from being cold, to numb, to painful. A stupid oversight on my part as I was wearing only a thin pair of wicking socks in my new highly ventilated cycling cleats. If my brain had been working a little better his morning, I would have broken out wool socks and worn my older, warmer shoes. Luckily we were by the airport terminal, so we made a premature  stop to get my tootsies warmed up again. While sitting there chameleon-like in the sun rubbing my feet, a security officer busted my chops warning me about frostbite.

Once I got some feeling back in my toes, we mounted up and continued our chilly trek. With the wind at our back and the sun gaining strength, our ride was becoming ever the slightest bit more tolerable. At the midpoint the temperature had climbed to the high 40’s, but now the wind would be against us. We begrudgingly backtracked our way down Tree Line, turning off into FGCU for a quick lap of the campus. With the school still on break, we did a little “mountain climbing” in the parking garages…hey what can I say, we Florida cyclists have to get very creative to get in any type of hill climbing practice.

Back on route for home, both Señor J and myself started to feel all kinds of cold related annoyances. Although we were both well insulated, the cold never quite lets your body relax enough, reducing your flexibility and bringing on a variety of aches, pains, cramps etc. Cold weather riding can be enjoyable, but it takes time to acclimate, something you never have here in Florida, as cold spells are uncommon and only a day or two long. My lower back was getting stiff making it difficult to comfortably pedal and Señor J’s hamstrings were tensing up…in short, the cold was taking it’s toll on us.

While limping home at a very leisure 15 MPH pace we reevaluated our cycling guidelines agreeing not to ride if the temperature is below 45°. Frankly if we had just waited an hour or so to start the ride, it would have been far more pleasurable as well as a better workout. The forecast has us back up to our normal balmy winter 80’s, so riding will be far more pleasurable…as for now, I’m going to take a nice long hot soak in the shower to loosen up this stiff back of mine.

Route: Miromar-30 + Airport Loop and FGCU Loop
Ride Time: 2:41:49
Stopped Time: 46:29
Distance: 43.23 miles
Average: 16.03 mph
Fastest Speed: 26.63 mph
Ascent: 826 feet
Descent: 813 feet
Calories: 2541

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