Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Was That It?

Every time that we get out on the bikes now, I ask myself, if it's the last ride for quite a while. We're well into December, will be going away soon and for much of January, and it's supposed to be rainy and/or windy for the foreseeable future. Yesterday may have been IT for the season.

The temperatures have been close to the freezing point for the last few rides, and the wind chill factor must surely have been below zero today. However, the problem with exerting oneself in the colder weather (not that we're really in winter yet, but we're rapidly getting there) is actually keeping cool and not overheating. If you dwell in a warmer climate, that may sound awfully strange to you, but there you have it.

You see, you have to layer yourself to some degree when it gets cold, but physical exertion causes the body temperature to climb. Because you are layered to keep the cold out, of course you also tend to keep your body heat in. Unfortunately, this causes one to perspire, and, even more unfortunately, the sweat has nowhere to go but into your clothes.

As a result, I come home from every bike ride, lately, thoroughly drenched: much more so than in summer. Of course I sweat in summer, but when I'm in shorts and Tees, and out in the breezes, the perspiration mostly evaporates. I come home drier and more comfortable in my clothes than I do when the weather is colder. Granted, this was an unusually cool summer in these parts, so I didn't exert myself in any scorching heat waves, but I think you still get my drift.

I have been wearing three layers for these rides: a long-sleeved undershirt under a warm liner that is, in turn, under a thin shell. The shell has zippers under the arms, which I unfailingly unzip before too much time has elapsed. I also unzip the front of the shell too, the amount depending on the temperatures on a given day. Frequently, the liner gets at least partly unzipped too. Yet I still get hot.

There's really no way to prevent this. You can't undo too many zippers and flaps, or you'll get some unhealthy cold spots, and you don't want that. So, you persist. It's the price that demands to be paid, and it's worth it.

I write this in part because people, even neighbours, tend to question our sanity when we head out in this weather. They are folk who run from warm houses to cold cars and from warm cars (after about five minutes) through a short blast of cold to enter a nicely warmed workplace, store, or what have you. Because they are in and out so quickly, they tend not to dress sufficiently and actually feel the cold more than one who dresses for it and spends more time outdoors in it.

Come real winter, when we get out walking and snowshoeing in the country, I may very well revisit this theme. In a sense it's a bit premature for me to post about winter conditions now, but it has been on my mind lately because of our biking, and biking is really on my mind tonight because I fear that the season is all but over. What a treat it has been for these old, degenerating bones and joints to find an activity that they can tolerate.

Saint Paul aspires to get out on his bike at least once every month, even through the dead and dread of winter. I think that's very do-able, but I fear that we'll at least have to pass on January, at least, as we won't be around much. Not that I'm complaining about a having to take a nice, long, winter, country holiday. No, I'm not complaining at all.


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