For the Love of Winter Riding

March 3, 2014

By Elizabeth Sugar Boese

There are few things I loathe more than being cold.  Toes and fingers lose feeling, I shiver violently and my lungs shriek as icy air stabs inside my chest stripping the last vestige of warmth from my body. I loathe being cold and at one point I would have told you it’s crazy to ride a bike in weather below 60, and below 30 was absolute silliness!
But love makes you do crazy things.

There was a time when I would look out my window and decide riding was out based on the presence of snow in the shadowy part of the yard because obviously the temps were too low to even melt a dusting of new fallen snow.  Then I found the difference between being cold and being out in the cold.  Alfred Wainwright said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”  Riding through the winter is about walking the fine line between insulation and perspiration.  On one side, the wind cuts through clothing to strip away heat.  On the other, sweat steals warmth even faster.  Find the ideal balance though, and you have exclusive access to a winter wonderland with no crowds.

The experience trumps any warm summer day when anyone and everyone is able to get out and play comfortably.
Now I find myself wondering how far into the lane I’m allowed to ride if the plows don’t clear the bike lane. I’ve got my set of layers down to nearly a science, based on how hard I plan to ride and just how close to freezing it is outside. I ride into the sharp crispness of the cold winds and wonder if that’s all its got, as a new warmth envelops inside me, a warmth of the exhileration of being out on the bike in winterland. I feel like I’m cheating, biking at a time when most everyone else is warm by their fireplace. As I dodge some snow pack in the road, I chuckle to myself that only a few years ago I was too scared to brave this wonderland. And I ride, and ride on.

Elizabeth Sugar Boese is a Light & Motion sponsored athlete who loves to conquer challenges. Follow her adventures here: