This week is a good time for a winter cycling update and the update is that it’s too cold to ride. That hasn’t happened often. I first started winter riding back in December of 2010 and I’ve kept it up ever since. Every winter and all winter. I even like riding my bicycle in the winter nowadays. It gets me out into the world. Put on enough warm layers and it’s like riding in the summer. Except for a couple of things. Winter riding takes some adjustments and there are a couple of drawbacks. When it gets really cold my legs don’t work as efficiently as in the warmth and ice make for a very bad ride.

Warmth really isn’t a big problem as long as I’m dressed properly. Lots of layers and a windbreaker. Still I have a temperature cut off. If it’s below 20ºF outside I don’t go for a ride. My legs just don’t work well below that temperature. They lose their strength and rhythm. I’ve found that in the cold I have to pedal differently that in the warmth. I have to slow things down in the cold. My legs don’t have that burst of energy that they have in the warmth. I put the bike in a slightly easier to pedal gear and go slow and steady. Everything becomes a little harder but doable. That is until it’s below that 20ºF mark. Then it becomes too hard to bother with the risk.

Over the past seven winters I’ve missed some days riding because of the weather. Usually a day or two here and there because of a snowstorm. I think the most I’ve missed was three days in a row. I usually wait a day after a snowfall for the roads to be cleared before I get out there again. I’ve missed a few days because of the cold but not many.

This winter has been different. It’s been extra cold. I usually cycle in the morning and there have been a few mornings over the years where I’ve been eyeing the thermometer waiting for it to make its way to 20ºF. It almost always does. This week not so much. So far it’s been a week since I’ve been able to ride outside. It’s crept up above 20ºF on some of this days but not until well into the afternoon and well after my ride time. We’re in a deep freeze here in the NYC suburbs.

I used to ride a stationary bike in the winter. I was a warm weather rider like everybody else but I grew tired of the stationary bike. It’s boring to ride one. I still have one though so I pulled it out of it’s stored away spot and set it up to ride. It’s one of those ones with electronics in it so I can set it up for a ride in the park, strength training, interval training, cross training, and maybe a couple of other things. Plus there are level settings for all those things that control the resistance. I really don’t know how to set it all up properly so I’ve switched between them to try and find one I like. So far they all seem about equally boring. Though I’m usually out on the real bicycle for around 45 minutes I set the stationary bike for half an hour. That’s all I can take.

One of the things I’ve discovered about exercising is that in order to do it regularly it shouldn’t be incredibly hard. Back when I was in my twenties I could exercise hard, build body mass, and test my limits as I saw fit. But starting back in my forties (maybe late thirties) things changed. Recovery times got longer and maintaining things got more important than trying to beat yesterday’s score. So now I know it’s more important to be on the stationary bike for half an hour than to not be on it at all. When something is too hard that’s when people stop doing that something. So half an hour it is.

One good thing about the stationary bike is that I can catch upon some TV shows that I wanted to watch but didn’t have the time for. I’ve been checking out “Glow” on Netflix this week as I’ve been on the stationary bike. It’s about the 1980s’ women’s wrestling TV show. It got good reviews when it first came out and I think it has lived up to them. It’s a drama with some comedy in it. It makes the ride go faster too. The first day I was on the stationary bike I didn’t have the TV on. That half an hour went slowly. With the TV show to distract me the time goes by a lot more quickly. I even took an extra “Ride through the park” one night just to burn off a little bit of extra energy as I watched TV.

The stationary bike that I ride on is a Schwinn with a big, wide, and padded seat. You’d think that would be more comfortable than my narrower bike seat but so far it’s not. After a week of riding my butt is less sore but I’m surprised it was at all. I’ve been riding my regular bike for years and years with no seat soreness. It also took a couple of rides to get the seat and pedal adjustments right so there have been physical adjustments to riding the stationary bike as well as mental ones.

As I write this the snow is piling up outside my window. What started out as a predicted one inch has moved on to a predicted six to ten inches. Yep, the storm blew inland. The worst part of it is that the snow isn’t going anywhere soon. We’ve got a single digit Fahrenheit weekend coming up. It’s been so cold that even the couple of inches of snow that fell last week never melted. Not good winter cycling weather. As I look ahead in the forecast it won’t be until Tuesday morning I could possibly ride. That’ll be twelve days without being able to get out on the bike. Unprecedented.


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