Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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.