back to a baptism of cold

I’ve had 2 weeks completely off the bike thanks to a house move, so of course the sensible course of action was to do a 200km DIY by GPS for my 2nd ride, with the first being the 15 mile commute to work.

So off I went on my Nottingham – Bourne – Woohall Spa – Lincoln – Nottingham course. Didn’t make any changes to the route as it had gone well last time.

It turns out there’s a good reason why a RRTY is hard to get. The cold makes a huge difference. Not sure if it was all the cold, or also a loss of fitness but I had a pretty hard time on this one. Despite not hanging around at stops I was still slower than last time I went round when I spent about 2 hours on a friend’s sofa eating and drinking tea.

One thing I need to do to improve this route is to find a decent cafe in Bourne. Costa is OK for a coffee, but some fried food would have so gratefully recieved yesterday. Luckily Little Dorrits cafe in Woodhall Spa always comes up trumps (and has decent bike parking round the back, there’s a gas cage to chain the bikes to), and they’re use to cyclists as the Skeggy 300 uses it as a control.

The flyboys were out in force with plenty of USAF out from conninsgby and the RAF from Waddington.

First time I’d been out on a bike for so long in the cold. It’s completely different from walking in it. I’d gone with some Roubaix material tights for the bottom half, with neoprene overshoes. For the top half a long sleeve base, with a short sleeve over the top and then a ‘winter’ longsleeve jersey overthat, and a Hi-Vis vest over all that (though I don’t know if that made any difference, but it probably acted like a combination gilet/wind-brake)). For my hands I wore a pair of thin karrimor running gloves, with my usual ** long fingers on top. I had a fleece buff to seal the top of my jacket, and wore a thin buff as a skull cap under my helmet

This seemed to work. I did get cold arms on longer descents, so I don’t think my top is as windproof as it could be. Feet seemed to be OK most of the time, occasional periods of being cold. Hands seemed OK, most of the ‘cold’ pain seemed to be more related to cramming the tips of my fingers at the end of the gloves, so a little bit of pulling around sorted that out until the next time they creeped up. My thighs gradually got colder and colder, and I’d have really appreciated a pair of shorts to pull over the top of the longs. I’d though about taking an extra pair but I’ve only got padded ones and was worried that double padding would feel wrong and uncomfortable.

The temperature stayed about 1-3C all the way round and I stopped for a warm up about every 3 hours. I think any colder or longer between stops and I’d have needed a couple of extra layers, and probably a proper jacket over the jersey.

The other interesting thing was watching the performance hit from the cold on batterys. Normally I don’t have to think about my garmin or iPhone’s battery on a 200km, but yesterday both were showing low amounts about half way round. I’d have thought the iphone would have been fine in the carradice but it wasn’t, and there isn’t much shelter for the garmin stuck on the stem. The last 50km I was getting worried about my front lights as I wasn’t sure how long they’d hold out and there isn’t really any where on that leg to pick up some more AAs. So that’s something else to think about on cold rides.

So not a proper hard man’s winter audax as there wasn’t snow, black ice or pissing on freewheels to get them working again but it was certainly hard work. And it was probably my last long ride of 2011, hopefully I’ll keep some mileage ticking over so I’m not so out of shape come 2012, and hopefully the weather will stay kind so I can get out in January.

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