Sunday, January 3, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside

A detour from the usual reflections on being a LIVESTRONG leader, cancer-related topics, etc. A little tidbit about training.

Or lack thereof.

OMG, it's cold outside. Now, mind you, it doesn't take a genius to understand that.

Now, I've ridden in some bad weather. Over the summer, I biked back from work in a lightningstorm. I've biked through rain, wind, etc (in summer/early fall, that is). With winter pending, I consulted with my resident bike guru. I consulted with Taylor Phinney (whose advice was simply, "Just do it") and a plethora of other experts. Neoprene, layers, booties, energy vs. fluid, studded tires, reduced air pressure - you name the wisdom, it was shared with me.

However, OMG, it's cold outside. Not chilly, not brisk, COLD.

I have been trying to teach my son that neither rain, nor sleet, nor anything other than REALLY bad conditions should keep us off the road. This, however, has been relatively theoretical.

Christmas Day, we went for a 20 mile bike ride. It was sunny most of the day, somewhat warm, and the roads were clear.

Today, we went out. It was even sunnier. Roads took a while to clear, as we got a layer of fluffy white stuff last night. But it promised to be a good riding day. Or so I thought.

First few miles weren't so bad (although I noticed that my fingertips were freezing BEFORE we started the ride - and I was wearing two pairs of gloves). I had my booties on, 2-pairs of woolies, etc. He had 3 layers of tights on, a couple of shirts, two pairs of gloves, etc. We were moving at a decent pace. We were getting to a point where the elevation changes for the remainder of the ride - upon the return, it would be at a steady incline until we made it back. At the peak of the hill, I noticed my son stopped chatting. I called to him. Nothing. I looked over my shoulder. I didn't see him. So I pulled off to the side.

There he was, cresting the hill, moving about 2 miles an hour. Something was awry. He made it up to where I stopped, His cheeks were bright pink. I could see tears trickling down his face. I asked him what happened.

He just looked at me and asked me, "Aren't you cold?"

I shrugged, and said, "Well, duh... it's January! Sure, I'm cold, but let's keep moving!" in true cheerleader optimism.

"But, Mommy, I can't feel my legs."

"You can do it! Tough it out!"

"I can't feel my toes, either."

Then, I thought, "Hmm. Come to think of it... I think I might have left my toes 2 miles back."

"Mommy, you ok?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Your lips... they're blue. And shivery."

And that's when I thought to myself, "I'm all for toughing it out, but I'd rather not lose my extremities."

So we turned around.

We were out for an hour. We only covered 8 miles. But I'm thankful we did.

Upon the return, there was a horrible headwind. The old invisible hill. What's more, the headwind had friends. Crosswinds. Hurrying back to the car, I didn't hear my son chit-chatting again. I turn, and he's nowhere in sight. I almost fall over when clipping out thanks to the stupid crosswinds. There is he, moving slow as molasses in, well, January. But we were on a flat. Something was wrong. He comes up to me, and explains that his bike is moving slow. Then I realize that wet road crud is freezing on his chain. Then, I realize I'm moving slower than I should be. Because the wet road crud is freezing on my chain, as well.

We push ahead and get to Vista Market. I tell him to pull in, wait inside, and I'd continue ahead to the car to pick him up. I go ahead, on a climb that I'd usually dance over, but today, felt like Mont Ventoux!

Finally, I get to the car. Do bear in mind that my toes and hands were actually doing ok until the point we stopped. And, even though they were numb, my toes didn't hurt. I kept wiggling my toes and moving my fingers on the ride to make sure sensation was still there and blood kept flowing. I drive to pick up my son, we pack up, I take off my booties and road shoes and slip on fuzzy slippers.

And that's when my toes REALLY went numb, and then hurt. I was crying while driving, my toes hurt so badly. And that was with the heat in the car aimed at the feet!

Sadly, this has made me reconsider winter riding with my son.

If I hadn't ridden with him today, I would have continued on and done the full 20-30 mile ride I'd planned. But, had he not gotten so cold and asked to turnaround, I might have lost appendages.

Sorry, Taylor. We just did it. Almost. We tried.

It's the thought that counts, though, right?

This doesn't mean that I'm going to stop training or riding this winter.

It just means I have to reassess the approach. Any advice is welcome.

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