Saturday, December 01, 2007

Feels hot out

Date: Dec. 1
Mileage: 20.5
Hours: 1:45
December mileage: 20.5
Temperature upon departure: 22

This seems to happen every time an Arctic blast moves through Juneau. The clouds completely fizzle from the sky. The temperatures drop 20 to 30 degrees. I don't change a thing about the way I dress to go cycling, and I yet feel like I'm frying.

There's just no real substitute for damp chill, try as the dry cold might. As far as layering goes, I'd have to say the amount of clothing I need for for 20 degrees and sunny is more similar to what I'd wear if it were 45 and raining. Who knows what kind of cold 35 degrees and raining mimics? I think it's fair to say it's down in the brrr zone. I've had to strip off layers while I'm riding just to avoid overheating in this cold snap. Then again, during normal weather I always dress as though I'm planning to get drenched, because I always do. But there's just no substitute for the dry cold. I'm loving it.

Today's ride was a little rough around the edges, though. For the first time in a while, I never found my groove. I actually cut the ride five miles short, because I began to feel those familiar sharp knee pangs. This time, the pain was in my left knee, which is my good knee and has never given me problems before (those sharp pangs still flare up in my right knee from time to time.) It's probably nothing, but I've been uber-paranoid about both my knees, since they are my weakest link and the most likely obstacle between me and the starting line of the Ultrasport. There's a chance that this paranoia has me babying my bad knee to the detriment of the good one, and now it's showing symptoms of what my doctor expertly refers to as "angry knee." Whatever the problem, it's a good reason to take a day or two off the bike and wrestle my snowshoes out of the closet. Cross-training: Good. Repetitive motion disorder: Bad.

The weather forecast for Sunday and Monday has me excited in a way only those crazies training for winter survival races can be excited. As the Arctic front moves through, forecasters predict increasing winds in the 30-40 mph range, possibly gusting to 60. Couple this with lows between -2 and 5 degrees, and we're facing 30-below-0 windchills. I'm trying to talk Geoff into camping with me tomorrow night. Because of our equipment and travel disparities, the only way for us to go together is to both walk and carry backpacks. We both agree that camping out in the yard doesn't make much sense, since: 1.) We live in an almost entirely wind-protected area. 2.) Going from a warm house straight to bed doesn't really simulate trail conditions, and 3.) It makes it too easy to give up at the first sign of any discomfort. Plus, it's just not as much fun. We're thinking about climbing up to elevation just above our house, a place where we can face the full brunt of that madness but retreat quickly enough if things start to go badly. I don't come home from work until 10:30 p.m., so we see how well we make that a reality.


  1. I just love tech fabrics. Heat and moisture management is so much fun.
    I've been away and had withdrawls missing your pictures. So glad to catch up and get my fix.

    You're pics are so good for the soul.

  2. Jill,

    I've enjoyed reading your blog, and I have a comment or two about cold weather camping, based upon a month long Outward Bound trip in a New Hampshire winter.

    You're correct in avoiding wet, sweaty clothing as much as possible. Our best strategy was having every top layer be a full zipper (i.e. no pullovers), and the base layer was fishnet for great ventilation. Having loose cuffs on your jacket for exposing your forearms was another way to blow off excess heat.

    Fishnet underwear is hard to find, and I have a strong preference now for wool base layers. I made my own recently with a merino wool shirt with a panel cut out of the front and replaced with a soft nylon mesh (from a cheap laundry bag). Both items purchased at the local Wal-Mart, and it took about 20 minutes of sewing.

    So far, it has worked well for cold weather biking (down to 15 degrees here in Maine).

    Good luck with the rest of your endeavor.


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