So I’m ready to say it… “uncle”. There, you win. Winter is “the man”. You Da MAN!! I get it. You’re not ready to leave just yet. When you are, you’ll do it on your terms.
I never imagined when I signed up for this zany adventure that I’d be teaching myself how to “accomodate” our good friend Winter. After all I did have some experience riding in spring temperatures that weren’t exactly pleasant. But this extended visit is shall we say, a bigger test than I envisioned when I jumped in with both feet in January.
Layering for this weather is no easy affair. It reminds me of being a kid and putting on all your snow gear to head out into the snow before realizing that the bathroom beckons. I used to think getting dressed for hockey was too involved. That routine is looking tame by comparison. I did the math the other day. In the past two weeks I’ve found twenty different items that need pulling, zipping, snapping, ratcheted, velcroing, etc. That’s close to twice the number I think I managed in my skating days. And lets not talk about the shedding gyrations when nature calls. I’m becoming a “twerker”.
Here’s a sample of the stuff that goes on “over” my regular cycling gear. Place the wrong thing on in the wrong sequence or “forget” the sequence because you’re distracted…and it’s back to the drawing board. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screwed up; I’ve lost count. Time is not your friend either. The longer you wrestle with tugging the last few items over your head or zipping them into place, the more you overheat. Sweating profusely before heading outside in this weather is the kiss of death.
Recently I came across writings detailing the use of vapor barriers to better manage body temperature in cold, frigid weather. The majority exercises outdoors in moderate climes or seasons where sweat just wicks away and does it’s job of cooling. Bundled up, you experience the same process with very different results. Those who spend a lot of time exerting themselves in harsher climates obviously are a whole lot more familiar with this stuff than I. In layman’s terms, vapor barriers are used to keep the moisture pouring off you contained so that the layers outside the barrier don’t become sweat soaked which can render them ineffective in keeping you warm. Or a block of ice depending on what the thermometer says. In a short out and back workout thats not an issue because you can strip them off before you get chilled. But if you’re outside for extended periods of time, it becomes a big problem. If you’re out for extended days or weeks, it can become a serious problem; no bathroom heater to dry things and release “eau de body” perfume into the air.
Yesterday I took a ride up the up the NH coast crossing into Maine. It was sunny but well below freezing. Instead of layering multiple foot covering devices over my cycling shoes, I placed a plastic vapor barrier over my socks and inside my shoes. Four hours of continuous riding later, I returned home without any foot discomfort from the biting wind. The wool socks under the vapor barriers were damp of course.. But they were warm. That was a first for me. If you already know all about vapor barriers, this won’t surprise you. If you want to understand the nuances of the ongoing vapor barrier debate, check out this website: http://www.andrewskurka.com/2011/vapor-barrier-lines-theory-application/
Riding up and down the NH coast line in the midst of a bitterly cold March, is a bit surreal. The roads are wide open with only an occasional passing car. Hampton beach is a ghost town; the only signs of life being the occasional brave dog walker. Bustling summer harbors like the picturesque Wentworth By The Sea, were beautiful in the sunlight, but not a soul in sight. Pedaling up the Rye coast and on into Portsmouth the lobster eateries were likewise silent. If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve guessed it was mid January. If a few zombies had lurched out of the buildings, my suspicions about the ‘Apocolypse’ would have been confirmed. No Zombies. Well….except the one riding that bike.