Monday, February 1, 2010

Trying out some new toys and nearly freezing to death

For Christmas my parents got me some new accessories for the road bike that I had gotten from them three years previously (and which is probably the best Christmas present I've ever gotten, come to think of it). I finally have clipless pedals and a pair of cycling shoes. For anyone who is uninitiated in the world of cycling and may be reading this post, this means that the shoes lock in to the pedals while riding, enabling a somewhat greater transfer of power with each pedal stroke. I got the pedals installed on my bike last weekend, then promptly got sick, and then went through a few days of weather that was snowy and/or bitterly cold. I had been itching to give my new toys a try, so today, with the temperature a balmy 26, clear streets, and very little wind, I thought conditions were good enough and went out for a ride.

In previous cold weather rides, I have experienced some extremely cold hands and feet (even with two pairs of socks). I recently picked up some toe covers for my cycling shoes, so I put those on. To protect my hands, I equipped myself with two pairs of gloves.

My ride started well. I haven't done much outdoor riding recently, but I'm pretty sure that, thanks to the new pedals, I was riding in higher gears than I typically would with the same effort. Unfortunately, my bike computer doesn't like cold temperatures, so I could not actually see how fast I was going. Hopefully I'll get a chance for that in the not too distant future.

I ended up going about 23 miles. About halfway in, I realized that my fingers were getting very cold. Unfortunately, I was over ten miles from home; I had no choice but to suffer through the return leg of my route. My fingers grew increasingly numb. Two pairs of gloves were obviously not enough - I definitely plan to pick up some hand warmers before going on any more lengthy rides in this sort of weather. (The toe covers, on the other hand, proved effective.) I surged through the mostly downhill last few miles and was greatly relieved to reach home. The worst part, though, was yet to come.

My fingers were extremely cold and numb. I needed to warm them up, and I ran some warm water over them. I knew this would be painful, but the pain was far more excruciating than I can ever remember feeling in similar situations in the past. But it went away in a few minutes.

Hot chocolate has never tasted better.

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