Fair Weather Riding? Stop It!
Fair weather has finally returned to St. George! After a very long and hot summer, the temps are mercifully back into the seventies. Perfect. It’s a great time to be a mountain biker! The mornings are warm enough that only a jacket is needed. Midday can now be embraced. Sleep in, anyone? The sun is no longer straight over head, so nature’s colors are very pleasing to the eye! And evenings are gorgeous—both in temperature and photo-worthy sunsets.
The only trouble? It doesn’t last. I hate to rain on your parade (perhaps literally) but winter is coming… When you get right down to it, we really don’t have that many “perfect” days to ride, but time and again I talk to people who avoid the cold (or the heat) waiting for the perfect temps to go have fun on their bikes. Not only is that not conducive to overall fitness (which lowers your ability to have as much fun as you wish you could have) but throw in a couple of hectic weekends, and your riding season could be quite short. And nobody wants to lower their fun-quotient!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no superman. I don’t spit in the eye of Mother Nature. There are days that are not fit for a human being to be out. However, not every human being’s definition is the same for what day that is. I remember a ride where my buddy Mitch and I set out to do some big miles when it was twenty five degrees one morning. We didn’t get far before the notion of getting a coffee instead won our hearts. But I do know people who would have finished that ride without complaint. Point is, you need to figure where your threshold is. I didn’t say “comfort zone” because we all need to get out of ours to ride through the less-than-perfect days in the year.
The amount of technology that goes into making warm, breathable riding gear has advanced heavily over the last several years to a point where you can layer on warmth for almost any riding/weather scenario, so I’m willing to bet your threshold is much higher than you think it is! Mountain biking helps you generate body heat quite well, especially if you’re climbing, riding undulating terrain, or even downhill (wind chill aside) which uses so much of your body to stabilize the bike and resist gravity, that once you’re warmed up you usually stay warm. Surprisingly, you may even need to remove layers after your initial warm up.
Stay positive. I know, it’s cold. But being a grump isn’t going to make it warmer! Give the ride a whirl, for at least a little while, and see how it works out. You may decide to bail for a cup of coffee anyway, but at least test your threshold a bit, then evaluate your clothing choices. Could a better pair of gloves or a layer under your helmet have saved the day? Just like riding in the heat of the summer, riding in the cold takes a bit more thought to make the ride enjoyable.
Are you a “fair weather rider?” Well stop it! There is a huge gap between a “perfect day” and a day that’s too cold (or hot). The vast majority of days are quite doable with some forethought and a little effort, so the ability to up your fun-quotient is readily available throughout the year. In the meantime, get out and relish these perfect riding days while they’re here!