Mind Changed & Blown

Over the years of writing this crap, I have made many overly animated, passionate declarations of opinion in regards to just about anything and everything. And many times, I’ve change my mind. I should have been a politician!

Right now I’m going to talk about riding in cold ass windy weather. And not doing the same.

Back when I lived in Pennsylvania and was doing the bulk of my unsuccessful attempts at endurance mountain bike racing, I often threw two middle fingers up in the air at the cold weather and retreated to the Stankment or the gym to workout. Only on rare occasions would I head out into the snow and slush to ride. That worked out pretty OK for me; the meat and hairy balls of a Pittsburgh winter is only about three months long.

Soiled Chamois File Photo: Along the rail trail near McKeesport, PA.

Once in Michigan it soon became clear to me that while the winters are very much the same regarding amounts of snow and temperatures, they come at least a month earlier and leave at least a month later (on a good year) making for a good solid five months of potential shit weather. If I didn’t learn to enjoy riding in the snow and cold, I would be shit out of luck. So I did.

Cold weather gear was bought, fat bikes were used, studded tires were mounted, and I learned to smile through chattering teeth, unable to flip off Old Man Winter due to the fact my hands were frozen about half the year. Still, I’ve enjoyed myself and have got some of my favorite photos while out riding in the snow and ice.

Riding in the cold weather presents many challenges; the least of which is the time spent stuffing body parts into layers of clothing. The worst of which is crashing on the ice, having your arm swell up to the size of a leg for a month because you’re on blood thinners, and force you to the E.R. Or freezing to death.

Then there’s climate change. I’m not here to debate whether climate change is real (it is) or whether humans are responsible for it (we are), but even the staunchest, uninformed fuck face climate change denier says things like “We don’t have winters like we used to.” And we don’t.

Having a fat bike to roll on snow packed gravel and groomed trails is fantastic and super fun. But you sort of need snow for that to happen. Rain, freezing rain, slush, half-frozen mud, and 35˚ temperatures do not make for such fantastic super fun times.

Then there’s me.

I’m 47 years old, 50 pounds overweight, depressed, on blood thinners, and I don’t even consider racing my bike any longer. I’ve no reason or desire to force myself out into 10˚ temps or cold rain to ride my bike. I’m more inclined to snowshoe with Wifey (when we actually have snow) hike in the woods with my camera or sit in front of fireplace eating a vat of spicy chili.

The ever-increasing lack of motivation to ride in cold weather has been one of the major contributors to me gaining the aforementioned 50+ pounds. I tried running on the treadmill and lifting heavy things for no reason, but it just never takes like riding my bike. I have an indoor trainer, but it’s old, crap, and I’ve rarely been able to replicate an outdoor ride while pedaling nowhere fast. Still, when I’m on the trainer, I feel like I at least know what I’m doing and it seems natural.

Enter The Hammer 

Chris emailed out the shop newsletter the other day telling customers about the new line of indoor trainers we have in stock, one of which was the Hammer from CycleOps. I read through the info, watched some videos on it, and did some research. I then looked at the store credit I had accrued. That combined with my good face discount allowed me to get a Hammer for less than the cost of a meal for two at Sizzler.

I’ve denounced riding an indoor trainer in the past few years, and I just went out and bought one of the most expensive. I say a lot of things.

I’ve struggled with motivation to ride my bike even in the best of conditions lately, and that was not going to get any better when the snow starts to fly. The only thing that motivates me anymore is being outside with my camera. Given that I can only post so many photos (hopefully none) of my fat face sweating while riding the trainer, I’ve promised myself that on days that I ride inside I MUST force myself outside with my camera at some point during the day when possible.

I’ve also promised myself that other than this lengthy post, I won’t write about my trainer rides or my time on Zwift. Both are just tools to try to keep in/get in shape.

My last promise is that unless it’s a time issue, I don’t ride inside if I can ride outside. That’s a personal preference of course and written in sand, but I didn’t buy a trainer likes this to ride when it’s 50˚ and sunny. I bought it for when it’s 34˚ and raining.

So What Did I Think?

HOLE-EEE-FUCKZ! The Hammer is amaze and paired with Zwift it had me working harder than I have on any recent outdoor ride, even the ones into the wind! I did a 10-mile course, and my average heart rate was 150 BPM. Some of that is a reflection of my declining fitness, but most of it was just how real it felt. Entering a climb and feeling the bike slow and the need to switch to the appropriate gear blew my mind. And my quads!

I was so wrapped up in looking down the road, at the coming climbs, and trying to breathe; a 45-minute ride seemed over in no time.

I need to make some adjustments to the unit to balance it better on the carpet, and the front wheel tray doesn’t do much at all, so I need to find a better way to keep the front steady during standing efforts.

As far as Zwift is concerned, my ride on Saturday was my first time using it, and I dug it. I don’t need to see all the comments from users on the side (Who is typing and riding? I could barely breathe let alone type!). I’m assuming there’s a way to eliminate that from the screen, but haven’t had the time to try yet. I also need to pair my heart rate monitor with Zwift. Currently just letting my Garmin unit record the data.

After nearly having a heart attack during yesterday’s workout, I showered, ate lunch, and headed out for a quick walk in the woods with my camera. I dodged raindrops, got blown by the cold, high winds, and took a few pics.


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