I’ll try to resolve two truths that seem in opposition with each other. One, I don’t like being cold. And two, I choose to ride through the winter. They only seem opposed because most riders think you can’t ride in cold weather without getting cold.
That’s the challenge. Or part of it anyway. The Vespa in winter.
A few mornings ago I headed out with the thermometer indicating 29F. Cold enough to remind me it’s not as simple as I thought. Riding in cold weather demands work. For me, in these three areas:
Gear — the stuff that keeps you safe and warm.
Skill — the ability to manage the cold and the risk of snow and ice safely.
Mental — the drive to ride regardless of the weather.
Gear and skill are essential but the easiest to acquire. Money, time and practice will get you where you need to be.
The mental stuff — that’s a different story. After twelve years of winter riding — it’s only gotten harder.
When I started riding in the cold I could physically endure a lot more than I can now.
Thinking back to sub-zero rides, warming my hands with headlights and exhaust gas makes me shiver. I could do things then by force of will. Now my body can’t, or won’t go where my brain wants to lead it.
Despite the blue skies and bright sunshine it was cold enough, especially in shadowed areas, to have a little frost and ice on parts of the road. I had to tell myself to slow down and not assume the bright sky meant dry pavement.
I couldn’t get out of the house and on the scooter without more than a little trouble with gear. Rigging to keep the cold out, heat in and supplement with electrics is like a damn puzzle. One that you forget during the warm months. Get the jacket on and realize I forgot to insert the wires for the headed gloves. Get the gloves on and realize I forgot the balaclava. Put the riding jacket on three times before hitting the road. And a few false starts with the boots after forgetting the heated insoles.
Eventually I’m riding and release most of the bad vibes and am enjoying the road. And then the visor starts to fog. And I feel cold air from a jacket vent I forgot to close. At the beginning of the cold weather riding season everything seems complicated. After a few rides it will all become second nature.
Just didnt feel that way when I stopped at the church.
You can’t ride in cold weather if you’re heart’s not in it. How you feel and what you think about venturing out in the cold takes place between the ears. Some discipline is necessary to push past the natural resistence to risk being uncomfortable. Or abandon a warm house and soft bed. I have no tricks or secrets in this regard.
With a dusting of snow along the road I new I needed to pay attention to the road. Often, if I find myself facing snow covered roads, I’ll seek out gravel trails in hopes of more traction and less traffic. If I’m lucky I’ll be at home when the snow flies. But sometimes I mess up.
By the time I crested the mountain top the temperature was near the freezing mark and the sun was melting snow from the tree branches. I had been wandering for over an hour and wanted some breakfast and a chance to think about the cold.
Eating breakfast on a cold day is one of those simple pleasures that I enjoy as often as possible. Nothing fancy, just food and a chance to think about the ride.
The gear did it’s job from head to foot. I just need a bit more practice pulling it all together so I only have to do it once. My technique is rusty. Riding too fast, not predicting icy areas as well as I should, and my winter eyesight isn’t sharp yet.
I’m not sure how much cold I can stand anymore. But I want to take advantage of as many chances to ride as I can.
Cold be damned…