Being Cold

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It is funny how I hate being hot, then just a couple of days later, hate being cold.  I did that flip-flop the past couple days, being overheated in Tulsa, then yesterday getting caught it a storm and riding in the rain for over an hour at a little below 60.  Normally that wouldn’t have been that cold, but I guess I must have gotten used to, somewhat, the heat, because I was nearly shivering.

I’d rather be hot than cold.  Dealing with being real cold is difficult.  I think cold and heat effects our bodies seriously.  The after effects of each is semi-long term.

I wrote this article 9 years ago.  It was about the coldest I’ve ever been.  I still stick by it.

I’ve been asked a bunch what was the coldest I’ve ever been at a race. The ice dip at the UCICross race in KC (description below) wasn’t that cold. I was putting out an enormous amount of heat, riding so hard, so my hands got frozen solid, but my core was OK.

During the Tour of Bisbee, back in the 80’s when I was riding for Levis, it rained the whole 90 mile road race. The last hour it started sleeting. Roy Knickman and myself ended up finishing 1-2 in the stage and overall. When we finished, we sat huddled in the corner of a local bar, wrapped in wool blankets shivering for an hour. That was really cold.

But, the all time coldest I’ve ever been, by far, is when Outside Magazine came to the Sea Otter Classic to take a photo of me for an article they were doing.

We raced the “dirt” criterium at the raceway in the early afternoon Saturday. It was a flowing mass of mud. When I finished, the photographer from Outside, came and introduced himself. He said that I had the “look” he wanted right then. I was covered head to toe with mud. I said let’s do the shoot then. He said he needed the light at sunset, so I was supposed to meet him in 3 hours at the top of the hill at the race track.

I went back to the hotel, cleaned up and waited. I came back near sunset and rode around the crit. course for a few minutes to get “the look”. Then I rode up to the top of the hill to meet the gang. It was the photographer, his camera assistant guy, and a couple girls holding big light mattress things.

Anyway, the photographer said I didn’t have enough of the mud look, so asked the girls to get some fresh mud to enhance my look. That was the start of one of the worse hours of my life. Me standing there at the top of the Laguna Seca Race track having new mud and water throw on me every few minutes. It was in the upper 40’s and the wind was blowing about 20mph. I was completely done after 30 minutes, but the guy keep shooting more film. I finally gave the guy a five minute deadline. He told the girls that I was drying out. When the girl came over to spray me with water, she apologized. She said, “I’m freezing myself and I’m wearing a down coat.” I was shaking uncontrollably.

The second I got released, I went back to hotel, sat in a super hot bath for at least an hour. I never got warm again the rest of the weekend.  I slept with a 12 inch layer of blankets on me that night and was still cold. The photo was the perfect Outside shot. Rider standing with a sun halo. He got his shot, but it ruined my weekend. It was a frozen smile for sure. And it was the coldest I’ve ever been.

outside copy

Tucker got to meet Harley yesterday. Harley is really old, but is still happy.

Tucker got to meet Harley yesterday. Harley is really old, but is still happy.

7 thoughts on “Being Cold

  1. Mark Dawson

    Ha, Steve that was the first time I met you. I had known Trudi a bit before that from shooting myself on the MTB circuit in the early days. I was the assistant that day. It was brutal, but still such a great shot! David the photographer has a way of capturing what it’s all about in a still image.

    Just be happy you’re not a swimsuit model we shoot them in the winter and all of those down coat winter catalog pictures are done in the middle of summer…

  2. Wildcat

    I’ve been getting acclimated to the heat and it’s feeling pretty good by now. I can always tell because after leaving the office I will drive for quite a while before turning on the A/C. Just enjoying the sweltering heat for a bit that had built up in the car all day. When I’m out riding at ~4:00 this time of year – it’s funny how many sedentary adults give me crazy looks from their cars &/or roll down their windows to say something like, “Isn’t it too hot to be out!”. I think, “Well maybe if all you do is sit on your ass in the A/C every day”. You didn’t get your Kansas summer skin on last year (and the year before??). Are you planning to do the same this summer?

  3. Krakatoa East of Java

    In AZ, living in air conditioned environments is pretty much a given between the months of mid-April to mid-October. And with that, you get VERY used to 72-76 degrees indoors. Going outside actually feels GREAT for the the first few minutes, and then you slowly degrade into feeling hot, hotter, can’t stand it. Us Arizonans are no better at hot weather than anyone else when it comes to riding and racing. Perhaps we’re better at breathing low-humidity air. That’s about it.

    The thing is, the same goes for cold. We’re so used to the 74 degree “average” (and we’re so acclimated TO it), that it’s very difficult for us to tolerate cool weather. It’s so funny. I’ll see racers out riding in Winter kits on 65-degree days in the middle of March (mid-day).

    Humans get very used to their “normal” environments, and deviating from them is tough. I’m so used to having regularly low humidity, that riding in SoCal in the summer (with its “somewhat” higher levels of humidity) can feel like torture to me in the summertime. An 85-degree 12 noon ride in San Diego in the month of July is agonizing for me as compared to a 95-degree ride here in Phoenix (done at 5AM). And it’s all due to being used to the humidity.

    Flip/flop… I used to travel from San Diego to Yuma for the North End Classic criterium back in the 1980s (usually held in early March). The dry air would always make me cough during the race. I HATED racing in the desert.

  4. Jack McNeal

    Steve I will never forget in December ’07 I was an official at the Oklahoma State CX Championship race in Tulsa. It started raining during your race and then turned to sleet and freezing rain You continued to race without leg warmers and at the finish (which you won) you had icicles hanging off your helmet and all of your bike. This turned out to be a severe ice storm braking power lines and trees all over the state.

  5. shano92107

    Christ Tilford you really should write a book with all these stories. I cant count all the hours I’ve flipped back and forth thru your blog links. awesome stuff, way better than Phil Gaimons book (and his book was GREAT!) Everytime I get to feeling burnt out on the bike I read this stuff and the ride stoke comes right back – thanks dude

  6. Morpheus

    Pre-riding course sections, Kansas crew arriving to stay in the Kansas house, need to seal tires, lots of wood to chop Sunday, need a new fork, might ride rigid, not feeling good. Lots to do, gotta go!

  7. Rick

    1995. The tipping point of a 10 yr run of Otters, Nationals, World Cups for this old dog.


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