Record smashing

Last winter, I began biking year round. I was determined to conquer the snow and cold and I will admit, it was scary at first. It took time to learn how to deal with riding in freezing weather and my beginning attempt was slightly disastrous. But I got the hang of it and by the end of winter I had successfully ridden in -18F.

By the time this winter rolled around I was raring to go. I couldn’t wait for a chance to ride in even colder temperatures and set a new personal best.

But this winter has been a warm one and subzero temperatures have been a rarity. With half of February already past, I had begun to give up hope of having the opportunity to break last year’s record.

Then this weekend a cold front swooped in with the power of a mighty eagle.

When I got out of work on Saturday afternoon, the temperature had fallen to -15. That got me to thinking. What if the temperature continued to drop overnight like it often does? Sure enough, the forecast for Sunday morning was -21.

I went to sleep with butterflies in my stomach, half from apprehension and half from excitement. When morning came I would get my chance, maybe my only chance of the season, to ride in super cold weather. Oh man, was I really ready for this?

Waking up to a cold apartment felt like a good sign. I checked the weather.

And still dropping.

I dressed more carefully then I have ever dressed in my life.

Wool socks.
Base layer.
Thick layer.
Windproof layer.
Thin gloves.
Thick gloves.

Once everything was precisely in place I carried my bike down the stairs, locked the door behind me, plunged my hands into my bar mitts and set off down the road.

The first three miles were spent mentally checking and re-checking every part of my body to make sure it was still warm. As faint colors started to appear in the Eastern sky, signaling the beginning of sunrise, I began to relax and enjoy the ride.

I listened to the squeaky sounds of the cold snow under my tires.
I saw comforting puffs of smoke rising from every home.
I smelled the tangy-sweet scent of silage, hay and cows as I passed farms.
I felt the cold air rush in to fill my lungs.

As dawn continued to paint the sky, I began to feel an inexpressible joy come over me. Oh, what a day to be alive! I pedaled on, warm and happy.

Well, mostly warm. Every part of me felt fine, except for my lower back and butt.

They were freezing right off!

I had made a tactical error, one of the layers I was using was too short to provide full coverage and the cold air was seeping right through my jacket. This turn of events was unexpected and slightly amusing. I found that getting out of the saddle to pedal got me feeling warm once more, so I spent the rest of the ride alternating between standing and sitting down.

As I pulled into the parking lot of my church, I felt an overwhelming rush of endorphins and with it complete elation.

Fifteen miles.
In an hour and thirty-five minutes.
At -28F.

Good times.

30 thoughts on “Record smashing

      • I’m sure Mr. Mountain Bike loves you too. As do I! It was hot and humid, but I have, sadly, resorted to using AC to diminish the heat. Toughed it out for over a week, plus the week and a half with no AC available, but decided that good sleep was worth the 38 cents/hour during the night. It seems to be helping me feel better overall, and I continue doing errands in the heat of the day to help acclimate. Today the heat index was 100, but despite speed-walking for almost an hour, it didn’t feel all that hot! 🙂


      • Honey, the AC is so worth it, it makes me happy to know that you can sleep in relative comfort. Oh my goodness, you really are acclimating if 100 “didn’t feel all that hot”. You know I would melt into a puddle 😀


  1. I don’t think I will every match or break your record. As it is now with single digits being my record, it takes me longer to get dressed to ride then it does for the whole commute. Congratulations?! I love that you can do that.


    • Thank you! It is interesting that getting suited up can take longer than the actual ride…sometimes I feel like taking a quick change magic act class would be a good investment of my time 😉


  2. That’s amazing! An hour and a half in those low temperatures is quite impressive. An hour is usually more than enough for me in the extreme cold (my record is -2). Do your feet get cold? That’s always my weakness; cold feet. Do your gears ever stop working? My shifters/cables seem unhappy when it’s around zero.


    • I stuck those little chemical hand warmers in my boots, which is the first time I have used them and my feet stayed nice and warm, I have a feeling my toes would have been rather cold without them. This is a really great post on cold feet that I read recently-

      Yes, I had many problems with shifting, when it was cold out I just accepted that my bike was a single speed and made sure to leave the house in a gear that I could do my entire ride in. Here is the thing…ever since I started using bar mitts this winter I have had no trouble at all, my gears work just fine. I don’t know if that is everyone’s experience with bar mitts but they certainly seem to have solved the problem for me!


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