My fundraising for the Keystone Country MS-150 in July bagged me an unexpected bonus: Entry in the Cook Forest River Ride.
Disaster struck as I went to get dressed. I grabbed the only clean bib shorts I had and discovered they were the ones with knee covers. It was chilly but not enough for those.I thought about wearing a dirty pair but that would be gross. Better to be too warm. I had gone out to the car to check to make sure those were the only clean ones remaining on this trip. They were. My fashion choice also slowed me down on leaving the hotel.
Last night I checked the time and distance to the start and determined it was a 30 minute ride from the hotel. This morning it was a 42 minute ride. Not sure what happened but I came into Cook Forest running a little late.
I went to registration, passing my cousin, Kay Walborn, briefly saying hello. Got my swag (t-shirt) and took it back to the car. Riders were queued up. I went to the back of the group but lost Kay. I just couldn’t find her.
I started dead last then started making my way through a couple hundred riders trying to catch Kay. I stopped for a couple photo ops but generally kept going.
The course follows the Clarions River for 17 miles and some riders would do a 35 mile out-and-back. We turned across the river then started climbing. I saw a rider up the road and didn’t think I was gaining on him but eventually passed him. On the top I was by myself.
At Mile 30 I pulled into a rest station. And Kay was getting ready to roll out. She waited for me to grab some water and 1/2 banana. She was shocked I was behind her. She thought the entire time I had taken off ahead of her and she was trying to catch me.
We had been hammering the route trying to catch the other. We were probably never more than 3-4 minutes apart on the road at any time. We rode well together. I had a big advantage in going down hills (weight) while Kay had an advantage going up the steepest hills. One topped out at 22% according to my Garmin. I could not hold her wheel on that climb.
We passed a rider struggling and I told him he had just been passed by a 69 year old woman. She was kicking his butt. Mine too.
Back at Cook Forest they has served up a nice luncheon for us. We ate and then headed back home. Not sure I would do this ride again but it was quite nice. And great weather today. Kay said that was a first.
It rained overnight and was very gray at rollout. But it wasn’t raining. I was hopeful we would stay dry. I lined up and they pulled the 100-rider rope right behind me. I was in the first group. But last.
As we started out I moved closer and closer to the front and eventually settled in with a group of 10 which might have been the first group on the road. We worked well together although the hairy legged monster I was following scared me by occasionally just coasting causing me to brake.
Ahead I saw a tractor which I spotted yesterday. I told myself that today I would stop so I put up my hand and excited the pace line. I’m sure they thought I couldn’t hang. I could hang.
Once I took the picture I got back on the road and bridged up to a group of three and the four of us worked together to the first rest. It was quick. No mechanic (I was looking for a wrench) but my bottle was nearly empty. Refill then hit the road.
It started to rain. I didn’t get out the rain jacket and we rode for the next 20 minutes in a light rain although we had wet roads for the next hour.
I rode this section solo although I hooked up with another rider. We rode side by side because even though he gave a nice draft he also gave a nice spray. I’m sure I did too.
There was an ice cream stop at Camp Kanesatake. Ice cream, at least mine, was served by Katherine Orczeck, the Blair Co. Dairy Princess (Alternate). When I told her mother I rode over Locke Mountain yesterday she said she cannot imagine. Her car barely gets over it.
At this rest I found the Spokes and Skis mechanic. I just wanted to borrow an Allen wrench to reposition my BarFly mount for the GPS. I had a multi-tool with me but it’s much easier to use a dedicated wrench. Fix completed.
Leaving Kanesatake, I was passed by two young men who were talking about how to work together. They thought they passed me for good but I blew by them just after Spruce Creek. One mentioned that we were leap frogging. No frogs here.
At Arch Springs I stopped for a photo. They passed and then I followed them to the lunch stop. I soloed to Tyrone after a quick water stop. I was on my own.
In Antis I was on a narrow street which has cars parked on both sides. There was not enough room in between for a car and a bike. There was room for a car or a bike (or two), but not both. I was in the lane when an SUV turned to come towards me.
I knew she didn’t have room but she insisted. She sheared off her passenger mirror. I chuckled. She saved two seconds which was the time it took me to pass the line of cars. But then she stopped to pick up mirror pieces.
After the Antis rest I saw a rider coming behind me. I slowed, thought he grabbed my wheel, then rode away from him. Geez.
I slowed again and waited for him and we rode together for about 6-7 miles until I rode away from him for good.
Arriving at the finish line in Hollidaysburg I checked the mileage and went for an out and back for another two miles. I caught the two young guys who were leap frogging me. I leaped them again.
At the finish there was a medal. A woman, confined to a wheelchair with MS, put the ribbon/medal over my head – a poignant reminder of why we Bike MS.
I arrived for check-in for the MS-150 ride. I did not see then had to ask for a bib to make “I RIDE FOR…” I was told they sent their supplies to another event which did not return any. I was disappointed.
This is how we connect with people. I wanted very much to ride for my daughter, Bethany,Kayla Bracken, and Kristi Wallace. Seriously, how can they be out of the bibs? Press “Order Here.” Without the bibs it is just another group ride. I took out a Sharpie and wrote their names on my bib.
I was delayed. Two groups, supposedly of 100 riders each already left and it looked like ours was the last group.
I had been thinking about going over Locke Mountain instead of going to Roaring Spring with the group. Has I been in the front group, or second group, I may have rethought this. But I figured starting last or next to last, I would have to chase to catch the earlier groups to ride in a pace line. And since the pace lines would have already formed, I would be trying to bridge up to the pace lines.
Still, I didn’t make the decision until I was on the road. I caught the tail end of the third group then, when it was safe, started to make my way through them. I had three decision points where I could make the move.
Coming off Frankstown Road was Locke Mountain Road. But there was construction and I wasn’t sure I could get there. Plus there were volunteers manning the intersection. I was past Tel Power Road before I even realized it. On Reservoir Road I continued to work through riders and may have caught some from the second group. As I signaled (bell) I was coming by I passed a guy and his wife. After I passed them I head him say “Wow!,” in apparent reference to my speed. I was doing 18 mph which isn’t exactly fast.
That probably cemented my decision. I really didn’t feel like hearing comments from riders as I passed them (although that may have been a compliment).
I came to Loop Road, didn’t see any volunteers, and had gapped any riders behind me. I put out my left arm then turned on Loop Road. I didn’t want any volunteers to see me for fear they may chase me to tell me I was going the wrong way.
The pavement on Loop Road was new asphalt. It was sweet riding. Apparently I was on a bike route – it appeared to have a clock tower although I haven’t figured out what it is or where it goes.
I came to Locke Mountain Road. It was all uphill from there. Most of the lower section, and indeed, most of the climb, showed 14-15% on my GPS. That may have been overstated though – it only felt like 12-13%. There were gnats around my eyes and I continually had to use a free hand to swat at them. Very annoying.
I worked hard. I was soaked in sweat. On the descent I really couldn’t see clearly. Still I had a top speed of 45 mph.
I followed some back roads to Williamsburg. I did not want to be the first rider at the second rest stop. I know there were some people hammering the course and I had cut 13 miles from it. Although I started much later than they did and had to get my fat butt over Locke Mountain I still felt it would be close.
As I came to the end of Shortcut Road I saw a group of six go by. And they were apparently the first. I rolled in and spent a lot of time at Rest 2, mainly because I popped a lens out of my glasses trying to clean them.
I saw some riders from the Blair Bicycle Club roll in and reintroduced myself to Leslie, a woman I rode 100 miles with in October last year at the Sea Gull Century. They rolled out and I wasn’t too far behind them.
In addition to Leslie, I rode next to Aurora, another rider I rode with last year, although I did not recall her name (until referring to the entry from last year). I integrated with their group of five until we came to the first of the uphills. I pulled through with the intention of pulling but instead rode them of my wheel.
On US 22 I soft pedaled some, waiting from them to come back but they never did. I caught Pat, another BBC rider, on the run in to Spruce Creek. He too, was part of our century group from last year, although I forgot. We talked for a little bit but as the road went down I took off (serious descending advantage – see “fat butt,” above).
In Spruce Creek I deviated onto a side road for photos then when I came back I caught the Leslie group. Once again I road with them until we came to a chip and tar road and they slowed down seriously.
Lunch was at the beautiful Camp Kanesatake. I sat down on the bench and left a giant wet mark. I checked where others were sitting and didn’t see any wet marks. I won the sweating contest.
The BBC group left and I found myself catching two Old Men On Bikes from Allentown. I really never integrated with them except I did without trying. We caught he BBC group and rode together. About four miles from the next rest I went to the front and pulled.
At the rest, two of the five riders went on and three stopped. They left about two minutes ahead of me, never offering for me to join them. Funny how these things work. I never really was part of their group.
I soloed onto State College, never catching or being caught by anyone. Instead of heading to the finish I went onto campus and stopped at the famous Berkey Creamery. I didn’t see a safe place to leave the bike (it is a college campus) so I decided to move one. After all, it’s just ice cream.
Throughout the day we watched the weather. The forecast was for thunderstorms and once it got dark. But I beat the rain by more than an hour. After I showered I looked out my window and saw riders finishing over the next 2-3 hours. In the rain. I had a good ride.
I had a great week in Switzerland with the weather. I could not ask for more. Well, yes I could. I could ask for two. But I would not get it.
As I prepared to go to Finland on Saturday, Corinne Kolb said to me that it looks like the weather is going to be bad all week. From then I kept an eye on the weather in Bormio, Italy.
My plan was to rent a car and drive to Bormio, stopping in Liechtenstein along the way. I would ride Stelvio Pass from both sides, perhaps one of the most ambitious days on my bike – ever. But the forecast continued to get worse. Daily highs for the town of Bormio were in the 50s with 100% chance of rain.
I’ve driven to New Hampshire where the Mount Washington Auto Road Hillclimb was canceled – twice – because of bad, i.e., dangerous weather. And I viewed going to Bormio with the same risk. The weather on top of the mountain could be 10-20 degrees colder with freezing rain or snow.
When I went with Trek Travel, I at least had a SAG vehicle and extra clothes at the top for crappy weather. This would simply be me all alone against the elements.
I planned to stay two nights plus had the expense of renting a car and gas. I really couldn’t justify the cost of going to Bormio to watch rain. It was a tough decision but I know it was the right one. I decided to return home instead.
My biological cycling clock is ticking. I don’t know if in five years I could get up Stelvio Pass. Or even one. I would like to one more time but not at the risk of death (and one pass over, Mortirolo, is the Mountain of Death). The only time I descended Stelvio I almost crashed head on into a car. It simply wasn’t worth the risk.
And if there was any question I made the right decision, Will Swetnam send me a photo from Stelvio Pass. I made a smart decision.
Stelvio – I am hoping I will see you again. In decent weather.
Breakfast was the at Hotel Cafe Huber in Lichtensteig. As I finished the owner came went to the bakery and gave me some bread to take with me. Very nice.
There would be two issues to deal with today. I never get saddle sores but developed those yesterday. Although better, they would stay with me today. And second, those signs…
Or more accurately, lack of signs. On a cool morning I rode downhill into Wattwil. That was my reward for riding uphill to Lichtensteig yesterday.
When I came to the town I turned on the main street to follow Bike Route 4. I also uploaded the route to Garmin. I had gone no farther than one kilometer when Garmin told me I was off course.
I turned around and went back into town. I went another way when I saw the blue Route 4 sign. I lost that trail too. I turned around.
I decided to follow Garmin no matter what. Leaving town I turned on a road that was not marked with a sign. About one kilometer later, I had to turn and there was the sign. I was on the right route after all.
Two or three or 10 times during today’s ride I chose to follow Garmin where there was no sign. Eventually, I would be proven right. In contrast to yesterday, I did not ask anyone for directions today.
I have already decided that it would be next to impossible to follow this route solely by depending on the signs. They simply are not everywhere they need to be. I would not say the route is well marked but “pretty well” marked.
I had studied my route today and knew leaving town I would have a climb. Not too tough (compared to yesterday) and then a descent. The map showed flat or a slight climb the rest of the way. And that played out as expected.
The descent offered gorgeous views of Lake Zürich (or perhaps that is Obersee, the “Upper Lake” portion of Lake Zürich) in the distance and the mountains ahead.
At the bottom of the hill, I lost the signs and went with Garmin. I turned on a narrow road that was flat and straight. It was the right direction.
I was just 25 km in (15.5 miles) and the rest of the day would be flat to trending upward. I would also be on these narrow roads with no traffic although occasionally riding back on a highway.
I came to one turn for Route 4 and it went down to the river and followed a gravel road. I stopped for a snack then waited at the top to see if any road cyclists were on this path. One coming in my direction looked at it and exclaimed in German “they must be crazy if they think I’m riding on that crap.”* He then headed straight and I decided to follow.
Along open road were just cyclists and walkers. I didn’t see any runners. And horses.
I saw a young man, Marcel, and stopped and asked if he would be my photographer. I wanted a picture of me on my bike with the mountains in the background. He agreed.
Marcel and I had a nice conversation of at least 10 minutes, maybe 15, standing alongside this wonderful path. Well down, my friend!
I really can’t offer much more. The route signs were pretty good but not perfect. But the weather was perfect.
At Glarus Süd there was a festival in progress. The bike route was blocked with signage to take a different route to Linthal.
I figured if the route to Linthal was marked, why not take it, but another couple came by and went passed the closure. I followed them.
I was glad because I don’t know if I would have known how to get back on Bike Route 4 and it was a great alternative.
As I made my way through the people, one woman said “Nice velo.” I liked that!
I found myself pedaling slower than normal, a little in part due to saddle sores but mostly because my eyes were constantly scanning the scenery. No need to race this route and fly by.
My hotel in Linthal is Hotel Bahnoff. It is a much larger room than the Hotel Huber and the Wifi is pretty good. Time to catch up and study tomorrow’s route as well.
POSTSCRIPT: At dinner I sat out on the patio at the hotel. One table over came a Swiss couple who had just hiked whatever pass I am climbing tomorrow. They are from Zürich. We had nice conversation all evening during dinner.
*Ha! I have no idea what he said but that was certainly the gist of it. Seriously.
Probably eight years ago I asked some riders from Altoona what the hardest climb in the area was. I was thinking Blue Knob or Horseshoe Curve. One rider told me to find Henrietta Mountain Road. And today I did.
This was was tough. Although it wasn’t too long, just two miles. It’s always hard to compare climbs but I can compare it to some other two mile climbs or sections I have done.
I started my ride in Hopewell (Bedford Co.) on the H&BT rail trail. More on that later.
At Saxton I found the infamous Henrietta Mountain Road. I did no research and instead, just rode. It seemed to kick up to 7-8% right away. But after a quarter mile after an intersection, the real climb began.
It seemed to kick to 12% then went even higher. I have no real pictures because I wasn’t stopping although my body wanted me to. The road was winding but with only one sharp turn I hesitate to call a switchback. It was heavily wooded on both sides. It was beautiful. But it offered no panoramic views because it was so wooded.
I tried to not look up the road because every time I did I could see it was going higher. After two miles, although I had no idea at the time, I could see the top. And here I made a mistake by not researching the climb. I assumed the road went over the top and down the other side. So I simply turned around.
The descent was steep. Rough pavement. And windy if not sharp turns. It wasn’t fun. I couldn’t let the bike roll. What I learned after the fact was I should have kept going. I could have gone another 3-4 miles where I would have joined Rte 164 coming out of Martinsburg. Then It looks like a straight descent back to Saxton. In other words, a fun descent. Oh well, next time.
I rode back to Hopewell and explored the trail a little more. At Hopewell going north for two miles, the trail is crushed limestone in great shape. A road bike is fine although I wouldn’t want to ride 20 miles on this.
Going south the trail was a road. A gravel road that led to a camping area. That was harder on the bike. I rode a couple of miles then decided I had had enough. Wrong bike for this surface.
The signature landmark on the trail seemed to be the trestle over the Juniata River. I had decided the surface wasn’t right to pedal to it.
The trail head seemed to be on my way back to Somerset where I was headed. So I drove to Cypher to bike that section.
I don’t know if it was good or bad but the trestle was probably no more than a quarter mile away. But it was gorgeous. Maybe even more gorgeous was the cut in the hillside. The trail here was crushed limestone, again.
It’s a beautiful trail. If there wasn’t the section by the recreational area which was a gravel road, I’d have no problem recommending a road bike for the surface. But this trail needs the wide tires. I may do this on a mountain bike and will not Henrietta Mountain on a road bike. Again.
The event was the Texas 4000 Atlas Ride, the official first day of the Texas 4000. Riders had the option of riding 25, 50, or 70 miles, often determined by the friends and family that came to the Atlas Ride.
I drove to Cedar Park and met Will Swetnam, who brought along a Garmin mount since my BarFly mount broke yesterday. I made it to the start with five minutes to spare.
After the National Anthem, the current 2017 team of Texas 4000 riders were the first to depart. They were followed by alumni riders. Then the rest of us.
I had no expectations for the ride. At first I was sitting in with a group then decided to go faster and bridged up to the next group on the road. A “train” came by with about 10 riders and I jumped in. We were flying until we came to rest stop one. I stopped but no one else did.
Back on the road I kept my own pace until another group came by. We had a good pace until we came to a rest stop. They all turned right (rest stop). I turned left (70 mile route). I was all alone.
I soloed for about two miles then pulled over to fix my handlebars which were misadjusted. Eventually another group came by. One of the riders was Scott Towle from the 2004 group – the original group. The official story was that Chris Condit, the founder of the Texas 4000, was in San Francisco, when the Hopkins 4K was just finishing. And that brief moment was the inspiration for the Texas 4000.
Later I saw a Hopkins 4K jersey from 2006. I did not get the rider’s name but he shared stories of the early years. He offered his opinion that the Texas 4000 does a much better job at building community within the teams than the 4K for Cancer does.
The 50 mile and 70 mile rides followed the same course except the 70 mile ride diverted to the west, probably 10 miles and found some wonderful grazing area protected by many cattle guards. It was a free message on the bike.
For much of the ride it was overcast but humid. I was drenched. There were some raindrops but nothing of significance until safely in the food tent.
Will and I rode together the last 30 miles. We integrated with a group of 2017 riders and I started talking with Trey Curran, a rider with the Sierra route. As we got close I remembered the Silent Mile. Surprisingly Trey, nor his teammates had heard of it. When we came to the last mile, I slowed and looked for the signs. Jake. Alex. Amelia. I even doubled back to make sure I didn’t miss them. Found them all.
I ended and was greeted by name. I think that helmet sticker (and number) was a clue. I turned into the mail area and saw Ayesha Kang, my Bicycle Buddy from last year.
I got food and sat with the Rockies 2016 team, having met them last year. Then Vanessa Beltran found me. I moved to sit with her 2014 Ozarks team. While eating the skies opened up and poured. It lasted about 20 minutes but sent water throughout the tent we were sitting under.
I also got to meet my bicycle buddy from this year – Luis Salazar. Luis is a bright and athletic young man. I also learned that he will not make it all the way to Alaska as he will have to return on Day 48 to start medical school. Well done my friend!
After the rain we sought out the signs from the Silent Mile. We then found Amelia Schmidt’s bicycle buddy, Lauren Nix. She wrote a note on the sign for Amelia – to be delivered to her front yard on Tuesday.
As I was leaving, Trey came over to say goodbye. That was actually very touching.
The Texas 4000 does it right. A wonderful event where friends and family can ride with this year’s team – 25, 50, or 70 miles. And very well attended by alumni. I just wish we didn’t need cancer rides.
The first hot day of the year, the temperature hit 93 degrees. I timed my day to start a 60 mile ride at noon before heading up to Rockville for the Ride of Silence. Big mistake.
I headed out on the W&OD from Dunn Loring out to Clark’s Gap. Being so hot I didn’t have enough water. After 60 miles I was pretty well drained but looked forward to a brief meal before the Ride of Silence. A 70 minute trip on the Beltway to go 13 miles changed all that.
When I got to Rockville I went to 7-Eleven and got a quart of chocolate milk and a Snickers bar. Then rode to the town center. I arrived the same time Bob and Eveline Roberts arrived.
Bob and Eveline are the parents of the late Jamie Roberts, killed on a cancer ride on June 13, 2014, in Kentucky. The ride organizer, David Merkin, asked Bob to say a few words. Before rolling out there was a report from WHHG TV who also interviewed Bob and Eveline.
At 7:00 p.m. we rolled out, with a police escort, through downtown Rockville. Someone saw our bikes, probably 30-40, and yelled out and ask if this was an organized event. A rider yelled back – “Yes, this is the Ride of Silence!”
Although it was supposed to average 10 mph, we averaged 12-13 mph. At one point going up an incline my heart rate hit 165 bpm. Wow!
We rode 10 miles, in less than an hour. We never put a foot down thanks to the Rockville police.
My riding in 2016 was always with the backdrop of my dad’s fall, injury, and subsequent death. When he fell in late April I thought to whether we had taken our last ride. My second thought was to buy him a trike for when he healed so balance wouldn’t be an issue. Then I started looking for recumbent tandems in which he could be a non-contributing passenger.
The day after his fall his first words to me when he saw me were “Barry the Biker.” I chuckled. He told me he wanted to get out of the hospital soon so that I could go to Colorado (for Ride the Rockies). I went to Colorado, even though he never returned home, but drove back from Colorado in two days to see him. And I sat out two weeks of prime riding season in September to be by his side.
I really enjoyed our rides the past four years and will miss them. He was a big fan of my rides so these are dedicated to him. In no particular order, here are my top ten memorable rides for 2016.
Ohio – Trails and Piqua
In May I went to Ohio and despite some crappy weather, met and rode with my friend Bob Berberich on the Little Miami Trail then rode on my own around Dayton and up to Piqua where I had lived 50 years ago.
The ride was canceled in 2015 due to flooding and looked like it would be again. But it went off under very gray skies. I caught some riders from the Blair Cycling Club in the first two miles and rode the next 98 with them.
An enjoyable weekend. I rode a trail on Friday then went to Rudy’s with my cancer friends on Saturday. I didn’t hook up with any riders on Sunday but Devil’s Wall got my heart rate up to an unheard of 189. But I didn’t stop.
For submission of yet another Royal Order of the Iron Crotch Award (my 6th), these were my statistics for the year:
Name: Barry Sherry
Rider Class: BB
Total Miles: 8,100
Longest Ride: 105 miles (Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Gran Fondo, Harrisonburg)
Number of miles commuting: Zero
Percent of miles on Potomac Pedaler Riders: 0.5%
Date reached 5000 miles: August 11
Most miles in a month: 1,331 (July)
Most miles in a week: 469 (during Ride the Rockies – mountain miles)
Number of weeks without a ride: Zero
Number of 100 mile rides: Five
Most interesting story: Extreme Skinny Dipping
More than the miles, I was pleased that I ended the year averaging 36.0 miles per ride, my highest average miles per ride. I may be getting slower but I can ride longer.
My stats on Strava (overstated by 24 miles). But a neat graphic nonetheless.
I rode 21 fewer days in 2016 than in 2015 but averaged more than three miles farther per ride.
In the end it was a good riding year. But I miss and will always miss my dad.
This is not so much about one ride. I rode 15 times in December, mostly on the W&OD. The first one was from Leesburg to Woodbridge but the rest were just the W&OD with a couple at Occoquan at the end of the month. I was chasing miles. I don’t like chasing miles.
Every ride was windy but some days the wind was much worse than others. And cold. On December 9 I saw but five cyclists over 33 miles. On a normal day I may see north of 100.
For a while this year I thought I might set a new personal annual record. But with my dad’s demise, I left 400-500 miles on the table being with him in September including days driving back and forth to Somerset when I didn’t get to ride.
But I had a push in November and entered December needing 450 to get to 8,000. I thought I could make it. Many days were cold. Windy. Gray. And of those I think gray is the worse. But the day before Christmas Eve I hit 8000. And then three more rides took me to 8,100 where I would finish the year.
Those were long rides. To be out in the cold for 2-4 hours just wears on you, especially with wind. And I often struggle as to what to wear and found this article in RoadBikeRider.com, What to Wear in Changing Weather (19 Oct 2015). The guidelines were authored by Coach David Ertl.
Here is my approach to dressing for the temperature. Like you, John, my weak link is my toes. They are often the limiting factor. If head, hands, feet are not mentioned below, then I do nothing special for them.
70 Degrees (21C): Shorts and short-sleeve jersey.
60 Degrees (15.5C): Shorts and long-sleeve jersey or long-sleeve thin undershirt.
50 Degrees (10C): Tights or leg warmers; heavy long-sleeve jersey with sleeveless or short-sleeve wicking undershirt; or lightweight long-sleeve jersey with long-sleeve undershirt.
45 Degrees (7C): Tights or leg warmers; long-sleeve wicking undershirt and lined cycling jacket; thin full-fingered gloves; headband covering ears; wool socks and shoe covers.
40 Degrees (4.4C): Tights or leg warmers; long-sleeve heavy mock turtleneck (I like Under Armour) and lined cycling jacket; medium-weight gloves; headband covering ears; winter cycling shoes, shoe covers, wool socks.
35 Degrees (1.7C): Heavyweight tights; long-sleeve heavy wicking turtleneck undershirt and heavy cycling jacket; heavy-weight gloves; headband covering ears; winter cycling shoes, shoe covers, wool socks with charcoal toe warmers.
30 Degrees (-1C): Heavyweight tights; long-sleeve heavy wicking turtleneck undershirt and heavy cycling jacket; heavy-weight gloves; lined skullcap; winter cycling shoes, shoe covers, wool socks with charcoal toe warmers.
Regarding the charcoal toe warmers. I find these help add another half hour to the time I can ride when it’s 35 and below. I buy these in bulk at Costco, where they are about 50 cents per pair. Sweat will deactivate these. Feet sweat when covered with shoe covers – even on the coldest days. Therefore, to help them last longer, I stick the toe warmers to the outside of the toes of the shoes and then put the shoe cover over these, instead of putting the charcoal packets inside the shoe.
I also put my toes in a sandwich plastic bag to help keep the moisture in the toebox of the shoe. When it gets really cold (<25 degrees), I put my whole foot into a plastic bag (Subway or newspaper bags work well).
To be fully equipped for all temperatures, your riding wardrobe must be quite extensive, especially if you want a couple of each item. Over the years, I have developed quite a collection of all weights of clothing.
My Comments to David’s Text I notice you don’t seem to use arm warmers. Or bib knickers. I would throw both of those into the mix for low- to mid-50s (knickers) to low 60s. And arm warmers (often with a light short-sleeve base layer and normal jersey) for mid-50s to low-60s.
I like arm warmers for their versatility in adapting to a range of temps. Especially if you start low and go up 10-15 degrees on the ride.
As for knickers, I love them! Just for the same reason you like long-sleeve jerseys, I suspect. They cover my knees, which I like to keep covered below, say, low 60s. And I never have to mess with adding another garment (knee or leg warmers).
To Which David Replied I don’t use arm warmers or leg warmers. I prefer tights and long sleeves. And I have never understood the purpose of knickers. Why cover everything except that last 4 inches below the calf? I just use tights for everything.
I agree though, you can mention a choice of tights, leg warmers, knickers. They basically cover the same situation.
Wind, being out in the open, and sunny vs. overcast conditions also impact how warmly we need to dress. If it is cloudy or windy, I’d suggest dropping down to the next colder level. If it is sunny and calm (or you are leaving in the morning and know it will warm up a couple of temperature ranges during the ride), I will bump up to the next warmer level.
Coach David Ertl is a USA Level 1 cycling coach with the Peaks Coaching Group. He also is a national coach for the JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes Charity Ride program and writes the training blogs for RAGBRAI, the weeklong ride across Iowa every summer.
And there you have it. My own comments would be a long sleeve undergarment is good for a day when the temperatures aren’t changing. In fact I often wear that. But knee or arm warmers are great when it’s chilly but the forecast is for warming later in the ride so that they can be removed. For much of December I wore thermal bibs with Livestrong leg warmers. Only my fingers got cold.