I started thinking about yesterday’s ride last weekend already. CalCycling had put an event out on Facebook for a Yankee Springs Ride so I bounced it off a couple of friends in Holland to go with me. I didn’t realize until Thursday that it could be a bit on the chilly side.
Leaving Holland at 7a.m. in Dean’s trusty Jeep, the temp held at a tolerable 12 degrees. We laughed about how cold it was outside knowing we were just slightly crazy, but knowing we’d feel cool about telling our friends that we went for a bike ride in this weather. As we made our way to pick up Jon in Jenison, the temperature kept dropping. By the time we hit the Gun Lake exit it was 0 degrees (which we think was all the lower the thermometer would report). It was a little colder than I anticipated (read the understated shock and horror in that statement).
The last time I had ridden in that kind of cold was 3 weeks ago with the CalCycling Group. I couldn’t feel my feet for several hours after that ride, and my finger tips were a bit numb for a couple of days. Feeling smarter, I grabbed my ski gloves this time and bought some chemical warmers for my feet from Walmart. I found some that work specifically in low oxygen areas like boots and shoes and could be stuck to my sock on the bottom of my foot. For good measure, I threw on my ski goggles to help protect more of my face. Thus, you can see I look funny in the pictures.
Gun Lake had received about 3-4 inches of fresh fluffy snow Friday night and it must not have been nearly as windy as it had been in Holland because the trees were still covered. Dean took advantage of that later in the ride when he pulled down on a pine branch and unloaded its cargo on me. The snow made for a great quiet ride; albeit tricky to navigate some of the hills because you can’t stand up to climb (you lose all traction on the rear wheel without your weight on it). I’ve said this before, but biking in the snow can really provide similar experiences to downhill skiing, especially on winding descents. I like that.
The ride was awesome. Cold? Yes. But, what a beautiful morning to be outside in the woods. Because of some icy roads we ended up missing the CalCycling group by about 15 minutes, but we followed their tracks for about 7 miles through the woods, stopping along the way for a few pictures. My gear choices worked really well: my fingers were toasty warm after about 15 minutes of riding (and never really got too cold at the start); my face was well covered and the orange hue of the goggles worked well in the woods; and my feet stayed relatively warm. Toe warmers or a liner sock might be the only thing I add next time.
When we got back to the parking lot we found Tom (from the CalCycling group) just getting ready to head out to meet the rest of the crew for breakfast at Sandy’s Country Kitchen around the corner. He invited us to meet up with them all there, which we did and had a fantastic breakfast. Gary Fisher has a quote that says “Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine.” That idea is lived out by CalCycling. The bike is a common bond that brings complete strangers together like old friends. That’s what I love so much about biking.
Oh, and the reference to the 1 degree’er is really from the picture that we took of the thermometer in the Jeep. I thought it was a fun play off the 1%er mantra we’ve heard so much about lately. It fits.