12 hours into Winter Now – Winter Solstice

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Winter started last night.  Today is officially the first whole day of the season.  Seasons are important to cyclist/athletes in general.

When I first started racing, back in high school, winter was a time you never even thought about riding.  We had some Weighless rollers and we sometimes started riding them a few days, maybe a week before the Mt. Oread Cycling Team would put on the annual rollers races at KU’s student union.  But that was just for fun.

We never started riding until maybe February.  But back then, the winters seemed harsher. They were harsher.

I used to be able to ice skate down a creek below my house to downtown to work at Gran Sport Bikeshop.  That creek hardly ever freezes anymore.

I’m not sure when this whole year riding started.  I think media had a ton to do with it.  When people found out that someone was down in Texas, Arizona, or out in SoCal doing big miles, then that disrupted the whole psyche of the whole local racing community.  Soon I became that guy.  Who wants their psyche in turmoil before the season has even started.

Plus, the development of way better clothing helped with the ability to be able to stand the elements.  When I first started, my mom bought me a baby blue tennis warmup suit.  Like full baby blue, bottoms and tops.

I would always wear the bottoms, with the legs tucked into my socks to keep them out of trouble.  When it was cold I would wear a Northface down jacket.  Can you imagine, training in a down jacket?

I remember one time riding 15 miles to Auburn Kansas, nearly my first ride of the year.  By the time I got to Auburn, I had completely sweated through the down jacket.  Heading back north, the jacket was a different color of green and held no insulation properties.  I literally froze.  I’m not sure what I was wearing for gloves, but nothing compared to current gloves choices.

Gloves are really the key to me being able to ride when it is cold out.  It seems as I get older, my hands are worse and worse.  It probably doesn’t help that I’ve froze them a couple of times too many.

Anyway, winter doesn’t seem like it slows down much here ride-wise.  Kansas has pretty tolerable temperatures most of the winter.  Most people think the winter here is like Minnesota and the summers are like Houston, but in reality, it is pretty mild.  Here’s a little info I stole from some weather site –

The warm season lasts from May 29 to September 16 with an average daily high temperature above 79°F. The hottest day of the year is July 24, with an average high of 90°F and low of 69°F.

The cold season lasts from November 28 to February 23 with an average daily high temperature below 48°F. The coldest day of the year is January 10, with an average low of 18°F and high of 37°F.

So, you see, it isn’t really that bad.  The average high on the coldest day is still supposed to be around 37.  I rode yesterday at 28 and it wasn’t that bad.

Anyway, hope you’re holidays allow enough time to get on you bike at least a couple of times.  If you’ve already retreated into the depths of your basement and you bike is set up on a trainer, maybe consider going out for an outside ride the next few days.  I usually try to ride to downtown Chicago from Mt. Prospect on Christmas Day.  For some reason it seems different. People seem nicer and the ride just seems better.

WInter really isn’t that long.  It is really 1/4 of the year, but we all know it really doesn’t last that long, right?

Riding rollers when I was 14.  This wasn't the winter though.

Riding rollers when I was 14. This wasn’t the winter though.

27 thoughts on “12 hours into Winter Now – Winter Solstice

  1. Brett

    when people found out that someone was down in Texas, Arizona, or out in SoCal doing big miles,

    It was Eddie B’s book for me. I recall reading this in Potsdam, NY in January, in laundromat, well below zero Fahrenheit. ‘How do they ride all year?’ Never connecting the New Years Day Rose Bowl parade nice weather with the reality that it wasn’t unrideable everywhere. I didn’t get out much (at all).

  2. bruce

    Ask this question and almost everybody will get it wrong. At least people who don’t do much outside in the winter.
    When is the earliest sunset? Most people will say the first day of winter or first full day of winter. Wrong.

  3. Bob Bleck

    Winter’s were harsher only because the clothing was not as good. Also off road riding has less wind chill effect because of slower speeds and trails often have cover.

  4. Bob

    You can tell how into the sport you were back then, wearing a jersey on a trainer.

    Is that an old Lejeune bike? Reminds me of the bike shop in my city, where the owner sold Gitane bikes. He fought in WWII, and vowed he would never sell Japanese products. When the early Suntour components came on the market, he continued to only sell Huret, Sachs, and Campy, that was the beginning of the end for him.

  5. RGTR

    I am acutely aware of it because I leave the damn office at nearly the same minute and I’m just now noticing that I’m making it a little further down the road till it’s a blackout.

    Bike commuters know.

  6. Ken

    Who are the people who voted down a Menorah? Seriously?
    And on that note, Happy Holidays to Richard Sachs!

  7. Ken

    For all these dudes downvoting Joe C – try cross training. Anquetil skied, Coppi played soccer, current world champ Sagan plays hockey – and think of all the cyclist/speedskaters (Roger and Connie Young, Eric and Beth Heiden). Cross-country skiing, running, hiking – i.e.. fresh air and a bit of a break. Enjoy some life, in other words. I’m guessing a lot of hung-ho guys spending two-hour grind sessions on their trainers in the basement will burn out on the sport in a few years.

  8. Kx

    Hey Steve … Did you get in trouble when you popped of the rollers and burned two tire marks in that sweet carpet as a kid? Ha

  9. Michael King

    Bar Mits are the solution to cold hands. They rock! I ride 365 and have for two Madison winters. Now I’m in Boulder. Still gets to single digits cold. Not below zero though.

  10. Dee Dee

    I still have the set of Weyless roller I won at a roller race (complete with the steps and speedometer.) They’re not ‘travel friendly’ but are (relatively) quiet and the drums are fairly round.

  11. Pingback: Winter Solstice | Curation Club

  12. FSonicSmith

    I would like that photo, enlarged and mounted, for my office. I would tell people it was me. I actually looked like you back then-just a larger nose. But seriously, that is a great photo. Who took it, Mom or Dad?

  13. Mike Rodose

    Steve said the picture wasn’t taken in the winter, but like Richard Sachs, I noticed a menorah in the background.

    Either it’s a manorah or it isn’t. Either it stays there year-round or it doesn’t. Either it’s winter when the photo taken, or it’s not.

    I feel a need to know!


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