There’s this story about boiling a frog. Suppose you want to boil a frog. Why you’d want to do this is beyond me but suppose you do anyway. If you boil a pot of water and then toss the frog in. the frog will sense the intensity of the heat and hop out of the pot. Of course, you’d ruin the entire story if you were smart or, perhaps, sadistic enough to quickly cover the pot. Let’s assume you are neither.
If instead you place the frog into a pot filled with room temperature water, the frog will stay in the pot. Now turn the burner on the stove up to high. Bwa ha ha. The temperature of the water will gradually increase and the frog, oblivious to the change, will stay in the pot until it’s dead. It helps a lot if you have an intensely stupid frog.
Winter biking is a bit like this.
Yes, your knew it was going to have something to do with riding a bike, didn’t you?
Let’s suppose you are happily riding your bike, day after day, in warm-ish temperatures. Then a cold snap happens. You, a gutless wonder, decide to do something else indoors – perhaps like riding your bike on a trainer in the basement or maybe stuffing your face with some quiche fresh from the oven. After a few days of being toasty, you decide that despite the cold you really need to go for a ride outside. You dress appropriately then hop on your bicycle and merrily ride away from home. Then a gust of wind hits, you realize it’s cold as fuck, and you turn around and rush immediately back inside.
You dead frog, you.
If instead of riding inside when it first turns cold, you grit it out for a few days. You will gradually adapt to the realities of winter and ride outdoors with a smile on your face.
All of which illustrates why it is a bad idea to decide to bike commute as a New Years resolution – unless you live in Australia or Argentina. Then you only have to deal with suffocating in a brush fire or being bitten by a rabid capybara with razor sharp teeth. (What the hell is it with southern hemisphere animals anyway? It’s like a zoological freak show down there!)
If you ride every day, your body and mind acclimate to the cold. You become a champ at choosing the proper clothing (Cotton is bad. Wool is your friend.). You should feel slightly underdressed when you step outside. You’ll warm up soon. If you have a flat, you’re screwed but didn’t I tell you to buy tires with kevlar belts in them?
This week I spent two days riding in the basement. Yesterday I went outside to do my 30 mile constitutional. The winds were calm. Temperatures were in the mid to high 30s at the airport. I had left a water bottle on my bike overnight. It was as solid as a brick. Off I rode. It felt just like home, if home were Nome. Somehow, I lasted 27 miles but I wasn’t happy. My noo noos nearly froze.
Today it was ten degrees warmer at the airport. My water bottle was still rock hard. I was beginning to think that maybe I should move closer to the airport.
I managed to ride 30 miles. My noo noos may never be the same.
I came home to my copy of Adventure Cycling Magazine. The cover story is about bike touring around Puerto Rico.
Do they boil frogs down there?