Riding in the winter is better than setting yourself on fire. Take my word for it.


From the moment I moved to this country, my reaction to winter weather has been severe and visceral. Every year, a sadness takes over me as the prospect of falling snow begins to rear its ugly head. Having grown up in year-round temperate weather (Bogota has no seasons, and is 65 degrees Fahrenheit—18 Celsius—every day), the mere thought of snow and ice are enough to put me in a deeper funk than the one emitted by Isidro Nodal when he wouldn't shower during the entire length of grand tours (since he thought it was bad luck to do so).

Pro tip: Water and energy drinks are a thing of the past. Do as Nodal did, drink Elmer's Glue, and enjoy the foamy paste that will build up around your mouth. Yum.

I know that not everyone agrees with my take on winter. Some actually like snow and cold, particularly if they grew up with it. That's fine by me, so I won't be arguing why winter is not fun, or why spring is great or anything of the sort. In my eyes, arguing about what season or type of weather is best is an idiotic pursuit, and as such I will now back away from that topic as quickly as I back away from discussions about Campagnolo versus whatever else. Still, the fact remains, cold weather (and the damned frozen precipitation that comes with it) have historically affected my mood, and due to the wonderful way that my brain operates, this reaction to cold weather is not restricted to the actual winter time. Oh no. The slight doom and gloom starts early for me, and usually occurs right at this rime of year. Although it may seem premature to think about winter weather now, being that it's only mid-September, I can't help myself. Much in the way that terminal illness can only lead to death, and Spanish teams entering a cobbled classic can only lead to many of its riders crying while laying the fetal position, I know that autumn (or even the end of summer), can only lead to an eventual winter (and thus me crying while laying in the fetal position).

So, much like the stiff, idiotic and unwavering and action figure-like stance of an Assos model (not to be confused with a Buffalo Stance), winter is what it is...and there's no changing it. Even if it angers you to no end (like the Assos models do), winter is around the corner. I know it's around the corner because I used armwarmers last weekend, and my wife has started her two-month long horror movie marathon leading up to halloween (one horror movie a day). So winter will be here in no time, and the unspeakable sadness that takes over me at this time of year is welcomed back into my life. This is how things have been for many years. This post, however, is not merely one where I complain about weather related woes, since I suspect that reading such a thing would be akin to reading a Campagnolo versus whatever else discussion...the type of discussion that usually makes me so annoyed that I want to douse myself in gasoline, and set myself on fire. Why? Because whatever pain I experience during my fiery death will never compare to the misery I just experienced while reading such stupidity (the same can be said for the feeling most of us experiences upon even seeing recipes in cycling magazines). So instead of making my readers set themselves on fire, I simply wanted to fill you in on a few small changes in winter outlook for this year. By the way, notice how low I set the bar for my posts.

Goal: to not make readers want to set themselves on fire due to my writing, but merely to inform them about worthless details of my personal life.

I think I can live up to that goal. If I can't, just make sure that you put me in your will, so I can inherit all your Primal Wear jerseys, especially that one that looks like a tuxedo. I have a wedding-themed ride coming up, and that jersey would be perfect for it.

Apparently some other riders like Pedro Delgado also made it up and over the Gavia Pass that one day at the Giro. Who knew?

A new outlook
Last winter, I decided that I would try to continue riding once temperatures dropped below 25°F (about -4°C). Although I was not very well prepared in terms of the attire that is necessary to ride in such temperatures, I decided to continue. It was during those cold rides that my view of the winter began to change. Although I didn't develop a passionate love affair with the cold, I finally began to see the winter and its low temperatures as an adversary I could beat from time to time. You see, from the moment I moved to this country, I would merely surrender as the leaves would begin to fall during early autumn. I would resign myself to months of seclusion, and surrender myself to the fact that I would be unable to do much of anything for the next few months as ice and snow started to fall. What changed last year was that for once, I realized that there was something I love to do (riding) which I can still comfortably do well into the darkest days of winter. I suddenly realized that a small purchase, something cheap like $30 overshoes, can easily buy me five to twenty more rides during the winter. I hope you'll forgive me for foolishly anthropomorphizing a season, but I realized that the days and the hours that the winter was taking away from me, could be taken back...and all at a small cost. A cheap winter hat, or a used set of gloves gives you ten more rides. Fenders can easily buy you a month more of riding comfortably. If riding brings you happiness, is two or three bucks a ride too much to pay? I don't think so...I mean, I paid like ten bucks to see the movie SpiceWorld (yes, the one staring the Spice Girls) when it first came out...so what do I know.

Juan Antonio Flecha washing his bike. People like him get paid to ride in cold weather, but if you love riding, and can do so comfortably in the cold, why not do it?

So while I still shy away from riding if there's snow cover or ice on the roads, or if the temperature is too low (this means different things to different people, but in my case it means somewhere around 15°F (about -9.5°C), I always know that there will be a day around the corner—just days and not months away—where I'll be able to ride.

At this point, I should bring up the fact that like many other idiotic arguments in cycling, the point at which people stop riding due to low temperatures is perhaps one of the most maddening. Tell someone in passing that you rode when it was x degrees, and they will surely tell you that they have ridden (and loved it) in x – 25°. If cycling is already an intersection of ego, fitness, macho stupidity and money...cycling in the winter only adds a few more annoying components to it. Suddenly, people are bragging about how tough they are...and as you hear them talk about it...you want to set yourself on fire yet again. As they brag about how there was ice on the road, and they continue to puff up their chest, you suddenly start having a sudden urge to set them on fire too. As such, I tell you about my riding in the winter without an ounce of bravado...but merely to explain my new feelings about the winter season. This new point of view may not seem profound (because it's not), but it has made a substantial difference in my life.

I'm still not thrilled about the winter, but how can I be down about a time of year when you can still ride, sweat less and have less car traffic to deal with? Yes, there's less sunlight, your water bottles freeze, and your nose will run like a leaky faucet, but who cares. If you're not out riding, what would you rather be doing? Would you rather be home, reading online arguments about Campagnolo versus whatever else? If so, let me know, and I'll bring over the gasoline.