Tooling up for winter

Yesterday, myself and missus recumbentcyclistuk discovered that the relentless rain had stopped and this weird yellow ball had appeared in the sky (I can’t quite remember what it’s called, I have some very hazy distant memories of seeing it before). So we jumped on the tandem and went for a 40 mile ride. Man, it was cold!

Here’s what I was wearing:

  • Base layer top
  • Winter bib tights
  • Another cycling top
  • Yet another thick fleece lined top
  • Jacket
  • 2 pairs thick socks
  • 2 pairs gloves
  • Winter neoprene overshoes
  • One of those tubular buff thingies worn as a sort of balaclava

Despite that, my feet were numb for most of the ride. I was cycling one handed half the time with a hand under my jacket to stop them going numb too. Got them warmed up after a sustained effort on the 7 mile climb out of Innerleithen, but the feet remained frozen throughout.

Towards 2.30 pm, what little warmth the sun was giving out evaporated really quickly as it started to set. It’s amazing how the temperature drops within the space of half an hour. We booted it back down the old coach road from Heriot to Stow as fast as we could. That side of the valley is in shade pretty much all the time in winter so you really have to put in the effort to stay warm.

I do get a bit of Raynauds in winter – my hands are OK if I keep my heart rate above 140 BPM, keep my gloves dry and don’t stop for very long, but the feet don’t seem to respond to vigorous exercise, they just stay as lumps of ice. I can’t put any more socks on as I wouldn’t fit in my shoes. I’m thinking of trying the old cling film between layers of socks trick next…..

For all you velonauts who are grinning smugly at this, congratulations on your toasty winter riding conditions. I am truly envious. Maybe one day….. a tandem velomobile perhaps? I’m sure the missus would appreciate one of those too in winter.

It was a beautiful day though, there’s something about the winter air in Scotland that I really like. Crisp and clean, slightly washed out but sharp and fresh to breathe. A great way to spend the few daylight hours we get at the moment. Shortest day coming up soon. My studded tires are ready for January – I’m looking forward to doing stupid stuff on the trike!


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