Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tired of hypothermia

Date: April 15
Mileage: 40
April mileage: 326.6
Temperature: 38

In everything I’ve tried in my two winters in Juneau, I just haven’t found a way to stay warm during a long ride when the weather is in the 30s and raining. "Waterproof" clothing is anything but. Wet neoprene lets too much wind through. For a while I thought overdressing was a good strategy, but sweating out the inner layers before the outer ones soak through seems to nix any warmth benefit. I’ve been thinking about a seal-skin parka or a rubber suit, but one is probably pretty unobtainable and the other is very uncomfortable to exercise in. “Basically,” I’ve been trying to tell Geoff, “it’s impossible.”

Even so, I can usually achieve at least three hours of quality cycling before the deep chill slices through my meager barrier (at which point it just keeps cutting.) But that hasn ’t been the case lately. I don’t know if it’s a breakdown in every piece of clothing I own, or if my body is tired, simply tired, of being put through this crap. But I feel like every ride I embark on these days leaves me stiff and shivering, trying to remove soaked clothing with numb fingers as my rewarming skin flares with pain. I’ve had more brushes with uncomfortable cold in April than I ever did in December, January ... even February, when I did my fair share of riding in near-0-degree conditions and saw temperatures of 20 and 30 below. I hate 38 and raining. There, I’ve said it. Hate it.

It’s tough because not only has this recent weather derailed my resolve to amp up my training and keep a strong base through summer, but it’s also causing me to waver on one of my main summer goals - giving up use of my car. I was planning to wean myself slowly. By July I hope to commute every day to work, to the grocery store, to visit my friends, to see movies and plays ... everywhere (with the exception of twice-monthly trips to Costco for much-needed cases of Diet Pepsi and orange juice). I don't really expect to save much money (my car is worth too little to bother selling and I already spend more on bike food than gas). No, I just want to try cycling as a lifestyle - like touring, but with income.

It’s a beautiful dream, but right now I’m having a hard time even getting my summer-of-commuting off the ground. I think about being wet and cold not only once per day, but three times (maybe more). I’ll have to return from my training rides to take a shower, then commute to work, then completely change my clothes, then work for four hours, then eat dinner out of a microwave in the company break room, then work four more hours, then put all my wet and muddy bike clothes back on, then commute home. It’s a hugely daunting prospect to think about doing this every day. It may very well be my greatest challenge yet.

Anyone have a rubber suit they could sell to me?