We've enjoyed some rather chilly days and weeks in the LA area this year. Obviously I'm not comparing the temperatures here to those far-flung northern locales, but compared to last year, it's been damn cold! Currently, I'm wearing a wool sweater, wool socks and we have a fire crackling away for the evening. Michael refused to take the dogs out for a walk this morning because there was frost on the ground, and at one point a few weeks ago, Gus, our ever-so-agile labrador-beagle mix slipped on some ice in the back patio. I keep wondering if this is the "hell-freezes-over" moment in humanity's history, but other apocalyptic signs seem wanting (unless you count the pope's resignation - holy smokes! This is the first time since the Middle Ages that a pope has willingly - I suppose - stepped down).
As much as I like that the cold weather affords me the opportunity to wear wool sweaters to school and to bundle up in the mornings, as I begin to think about different races and the training involved, I curse the colder temperatures. Yes, this is yet another example of my total lack of hard-core badassness. I admit it - I am a fair weather rider. A wimp, in other words. There are, after all, several reasons I live in Southern CA, and the weather does make the list. While we have our seasons here (May Grey, June Gloom, Santa Ana winds...) and there are extremes that come with them, most of the time, I can find a way to train outside, even if it means I drive to the coast, usually in search of cooler temperatures, for a ride or a run. There are some hot days in the summer, and, apparently, some cold days in the winter!
Running in the cold, while it isn't much fun, is not unbearable nor unfamiliar. Last year, I ran in Boulder and Taos when the temperatures were in the 20's. Cold, yes, but not intolerable. Riding in the cold, however, is another matter altogether. As yesterday proved, I am NOT prepared for even slightly cold weather riding. Honestly, if I weren't starting to think about upcoming events (months away, but still there), I wouldn't have plopped my thin-skinned butt on the saddle yesterday. However, I've committed myself to at least one ride per week in February and then upping the number when March and April roll around. So far, I've enjoyed these rides - last weekend's was awesome and made me happy to be back on the bike. Yesterday's ride, however, made me realize that I seriously lack any cold-weather riding gear. Okay, not "any" since I have leg warmers and bike gloves, and really I have enough winter gear to layer up for a ride, but it feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable to be so cold on the bike. Not that I started out cold - I began the ride climbing several miles as I headed part of the way up the Angeles Crest Highway. It was an AMAZING day (always is after a rain) - lots of dramatic clouds and sunlight peeping through and freshly green mountains that went on and on as I looked towards the eastern range. I wasn't hot on the climb, but not cold. However, once I turned around and started the descent, I knew that I was in for some suffering. At first I couldn't decide if the excitement of the decent would cancel out the wind chill factor, and initially it did. Once I finished the decent and continued the ride, I started to curse my serious lack of circulation - cold hands and really f-ing cold feet! I cut the ride short because, by that point, my feet were totally numb and I just couldn't get warm.
In my defense, I do think that it was about 52 degrees when I started the ride and, when I returned, the temperature had dropped to about 48 degrees. Not freezing temperatures, I admit, but when you're zooming downhill and there's a biting wind, it's cold! Fortunately, looking at the temperatures this next weekend, we should be back to normal LA digits - ah, the 70's, how I will welcome you!