The cold weather sucks! Winter is my least favorite time of the year, and I felt that way long before I started biking. I remember a childhood of huddling over the heat vent with my blanket around me like a tent. It was only in those moments, I was truly warm.
In spite of my dislike for low temperatures, I don’t let the cold stop me from riding my bike and training. I had commented to Mike that I could smell burning rubber when I did my low cadence/high resistance intervals on the trainer. He suggested I do them outside as long as the ground was flat. So, outside it would be!
The Monroe Bike Path would be perfect for this; however, it rained for the last four weeks on the day I’m supposed to do these workouts. Tuesday, we had clear skies so I decided to do my sublactate threshold intervals outside for the first time.
George said, “You’re not riding there alone,” and told me he’d join me. I was excited. I often miss riding with George a lot in the winter because he hates the cold worse than I do.
We got our stuff together, added in a little bickering about whether or not I should throw away my bike pump that leaks (but it leaks with the road bike only, which leads me to believe the tires valves are leaking, not the pump), and loaded up the car.
We complained about the cold weather as we drove. We’d love to move to a warmer place in the future. George is so tired of having a cough that lasts the entire winter and I’m tired of being cold all the time. I was in a good mood though. I was excited to do these intervals outdoors. I was hoping that it would be easy to maintain the heart rate and cadence parameters, and that I wouldn’t run out of gears like I often do on the trainer. I’m really tired of setting a super high resistance on my Sette trainer and burning up my tires.
We pulled into the deserted parking lot and got out of the car. George loudly declared, “This is stupid!”
We got the bikes off the roof, put our front wheels back on, and then got back in the car to finish getting suited up. We put the lights on the bikes and then got back in the car to fill up our heat surpluses one more time. A heat surplus is an Angieism, as George likes to call it. It means that you overheat yourself intentionally so that when you do go outside, you’ll be ahead of the coldification. I’m sure you can guess what coldification is…
Well, it was time. We got out of the car and got moving. I honestly think George was hating life because he was stating again and again how it was stupid to ride outside when it was this cold. I knew we’d get warm once we got our heart rates up. So, I quickly pushed until I was in Zone 2. George declared that he was going to ride slowly so he wouldn’t feel the cold as much. I said I needed to go faster than that, and I went on ahead. He quickly got up to speed though, and soon it was time to start the first interval.
Mike has increased my SLT intervals to 20 minutes now. I played around with the gears until I found the right combination that allowed me to maintain a Zone 2 heart rate at 70-80 rpms. George gradually caught up. I told him that once we passed the last intersection with a main road, I was going to stay on that last part of the bike path for the rest of the workout. It was the part that had no intersections for the longest possible stretch.
George stopped to get out his Grabber Warmers. His hands were just way too cold without them. I was already using my warmers, along with my Specialized Radiant gloves. My hands were comfortable. I rode on alone, knowing that he’d probably catch me since he was riding gwith no cadence or heart rate restrictions.
Suddenly there in front of me was a walker. Then a pair of walkers with little blinky lights on their backpacks. How conscientious, I thought. Then I saw a pack of four walkers. Then another pack of four, with more ahead.
I’d ridden into the middle of a high school group’s nature walk. They had some adults with them and they were about 20 in number. I slowed down so I wouldn’t scare them too much. I tried to keep from looking at them, so my helmet light wouldn’t blind them. They were nice and got out of my way. Unfortunately, I knew that I would encounter them repeatedly because my route was a 6 mile stretch that I’d retrace again and again until I finished my intervals.
George was a little ways behind me. I passed him after I turned around at the trail’s end. I said hi to him but he didn’t answer. He sounded like he was going fast. I bet he was making it his goal to catch me. Normally, I’d pick up the pace and become ultra competitive, but not tonight. I had parameters to maintain.
I passed the kids again and felt kind of bad for cutting through their nature walk. They commented how bright my lights were. They were at a junction by a road, so I hoped that they’d be gone by the time I got back there again. No such luck. They were walking again and I passed them a third darn time. I was annoyed because I had to slow down and it affected my heart rate. I’m sure they were annoyed too. I know from seeing George’s lights, that people could see us coming for a long time before we get to them. Our lights are really bright!
On the fifth time passing George, he yelled out, “Man you’re moving!” In all this time, he still hadn’t caught me. We were still passing each other in opposite directions near each turnaround point. I found out later that he was cruising in the low 20’s. I was maintaining 16-19 mph, depending on the interval. But George stopped a handful of times, so that kept setting him back. He stopped to get out his warmers. He stopped to go to the bathroom. He stopped for something else. In the end, I didn’t ride with him until the cool down.
We got back in the car and talked about the ride. He mentioned how in the future he wanted to ride longer to make it worth venturing out into the cold. I was surprised. I said, “You’ll do this again? I thought you hated it.”
George said, “There’s no way I’m letting you do this alone. Did you see the ghetto houses?”
I did see some small houses that were in the woods, right along the paved trail. The only way to get to them was to drive down a long desolate road that also paralleled part of the bike path. He said, “Some crazy person grabs you and drags you into one of those houses, you’re a goner.” He’s a sweetie. I love my husband. He’s willing to suffer the cold to keep me safe because he knows I’m such a tyrant that I’d brave the cold night alone every week.