I love this clear, cold weather

Date: Dec. 14 and 15
Mileage: 42.2 and 17.3
December mileage: 418.9

It occurred to me today that I am in the midst of a full-on outdoor binge. I noticed the to-do list from my "other" life stacking up, so I crunched the numbers. 5.5 hours Thursday, 7.5 Friday, 4 Saturday, 3.5 Sunday and 3 today, for total of a 23.5 hours of moderate to strenuous physical activity in a week that still has two days left in it. I mostly feel it in my throat, which has become raw and scratchy after 23.5 hours of heavy breathing in cold, dry air. But beyond that, I feel great - so much better than I have the past couple weeks, when I had admittedly succumbed to a mild bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder and the general gloom and doom of the times. A little Vitamin D and a lot of exercise has recharged my outlook, and I don't want to stop, and don't plan to, quite yet, because I think the occasional binge is good for me - especially in context of training for the days-long continuous effort of the Iditarod race.

The temperature's hovered in the low teens since Friday — often with hard gusting winds that drive the windchill well below zero. I tested out some potential race gear but still wore essentially the same thing that I had been for riding when it's 38 degrees and raining ... just substitute the soft shell outer layer for Gortex and nylon, a vapor barrier for neoprene socks, and a balaclava instead of a fleece headband. I still wore the same kind of polypro base layer and fleece pullover. I was dying of heat pedaling up the Dan Moller trail today. I was overdressed for sure. And my thermometer still couldn't decide if it was 9 or 10. I made a mental note that if it's actually dry outside, I can add at least 30 degrees to the temperature.

I also made a mental note to write a letter to Surly bicycles and ask them if they've ever considered designing an alternative Endomorph tire for hilly terrain. The current version has virtually no tread, so even on well-packed snow trails, it slips out too easily going up steep hills. My ideal tire for snowbiking in Juneau would still be 4" wide, but have aggressive tread and studs. Each tire would weigh about 70 pounds and would be incapable of rolling faster than 8 mph on pavement. But on narrow singletrack and steep snowmobile trails, it would be a dream wheel.

I'm also thinking about modifying a pair of leggings by adding extra insulation in the butt area. Not the sit-bone area, where the chamois goes, but up high, where all of the surface area is. My butt cheeks are always cold when the temperature drops below 15 degrees, even when the rest of my body is sweating bullets. I mentioned this to Geoff and he said it must be a female thing, because he's never experienced the "cold butt" phenomenon. Then I mentioned it to an avid snow cyclist in Anchorage, and he suggested that my body's, um, "insulation" is probably the culprit. It makes sense. Unlike muscle, body fat doesn't produce its own heat, so it's more susceptible to the cold. Because Geoff has close to zero percent body fat, he wouldn't understand. I guess until I can find a way to alter my genetic makeup or drop my own body fat percentage near zero, I'll have to come up with a creative way to keep the, um, "insulation" warm. Kind of gives new meaning to "junk in the trunk." :-)

I'm hoping to get out for a good trail ride tomorrow before I finally take Pugsley in for the repairs he badly needs. I'm hoping for continuing high energy and (relatively) low temperatures.


  1. Ray from Ohio4:42 AM

    As a 44 year old male who is fairly lean, I have to disagree with the "CB" phenomenom of being body fat or gender specific. When it's cold out I practically have to lower my saddle height to account for the anti-CB layers.

  2. Anonymous5:52 AM

    i'll agree with your cold butt theory. i carry my fat in my thighs and butt... these two places tend to get chilly during runs or climbs even thought the rest of my body is overheating.

  3. I figured somebody must make a lightweight set of chains for snow bike tires, but a google search has come up with nothing.

  4. Jill, my butt probably weighs as much as you do and I hate it when it gets cold out.

    I feel your pain:-)

  5. Anonymous6:57 AM

    Please write that letter to Surly about the endomorph tires. I've been thinking the same thing for awhile now.

  6. you photos move me to ride.

  7. Sounds like you are hitting the sweet spot of training in winter. Stepping it up myself over the next couple of weeks. Take care.



  8. Anonymous8:06 AM

    How about some of those 3" downhill tires (Arrow Savage DH) on your Large Marge rims? Not the volume of the Endomorph, but still big and with lots of gription. Just an idea. -Jonathan in Michigan

  9. heh-heh you said butt.
    hey beavis, check it out,
    that chick in the computer said

  10. Hey Jill,

    I was experiencing some of the same frustration this year.

    Try running your Endomorphs the other way -- with the white Surly labels on the left side of the bike. We have found it makes the front wheel less likely to wash out.


  11. 15 below last night in Mpls. I have plenty of beef on my rear end as well and I developed a couple cold spots during my 3 hour training ride.

    Your theory could have some merit.

  12. Anonymous2:28 PM

    my bum gets so cold it turns bright red after a day of skiing. i love it. jen

  13. junk in the trunk? good one, jill! too funny. :)

  14. OMG! I'm reading JIll and not watching Keith Olbermann. ;)
    kb peace out

  15. i thought it is fat that provides insulation, much like blubber.

  16. Jill...What a great post. The butt thing...not totally a female phenomenon. Believe me running and biking at -30 here in MN I've had my share of frigid butt syndrome. Nothing worse than a chapped @#$.

  17. How about something like wind briefs (which I've found ESSENTIAL in the last few days): take some long johns and sew some nylon (or something like windstopper fleece) over the areas that get cold?

  18. Why are your posts always awesome???

  19. Cold butt syndrome sucks! You need thermal underpants - they are the only thing that works for my sad little tush.

  20. Anonymous12:34 PM

    About the tires- we have a group of Pugsly riders in MN who do some of their own R & D. Check it out some day when you have a few minutes- www.morcmtb.org/forums/
    There's lots of good info in the "gear" section you may be interested in.
    Also- I think you're spot on with your theory on insulation. I have similar issues in the winter.
    Good luck-

  21. I know this might sound a bit silly, but i wonder if some - erm - "adult diapers", would do the trick?


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