Today I got cold. Really cold. And it was only 42 degrees outside, but enough to give me the shivers.
Kay left town on a ski trip and the weather was going to be in the 60’s so I decided to go for a nice long ride on my Giant TCX bicycle. I had just purchased it about a month ago in early January and have had limited opportunities for long rides in warm weather. Oh, I have done some long rides on it – 62 miles on gravel the previous weekend – but that was in some pretty cold weather with temps starting in the 30’s. Today I wanted a nice fun ride with just my shorts and a long sleeved riding jersey. And fingerless gloves. Yea, that would be good for a change after wearing heavy gloves for the past 2 months of riding.
I got started late because of a meeting I almost forgot about, and that ended up running late. I was on the bike about 1:30 PM, right when the sun was out, the temps were well into the 60’s and only a light breeze from the north. I debated on wearing a short sleeve or long sleeve jersey, and at the last minute decided long sleeves. A choice I was very happy with later in the day.
I rode along the Hefner trails and cut over towards Overholser on the canal road – a well known cycling route between the two lakes. Went past Wiley Post Airport, where I officed and hangered my airplane for years, and then on to Overholser. Along the way I was dinking around with my iPhone and Strava, trying to get it set up the way like. I had a new sleek iPhone mount for my bike and decided to use Strava along with my Garmin 62ST for ride recording and navigation. My Garmin read my cadence from my Bontrager cadence/speed sensor, and heart rate from my Bontrager heart rate monitor. I really like having this info displayed as I ride, especially the cadence. It helps with my workout planning and reminds me to keep my cadence up to around 80+ RPM. I was surprised that my iPhone with Strava could also read this data at the same time, but then realized that my Garmin reads the data via the ANT+ protocol while my phone reads the data via Bluetooth 4.0 protocol. I was worried about the battery running down on my phone so I turned the screen brightness down, turned off WIFI, and then set the phone to turn off the screen after 4 minutes. One thing I don’t want to happen on a ride is for my phone to run out of juice. That could be bad in case of an emergency. I really like that my Garmin will last days on two AA batteries even with the screen about half brightness. My Garmin won’t read or display any power data so when I get a power meter I will have to do something different there.
Anyway back to my story. I followed the bike trails down past Overholser and followed the wonderful West River trail down to the Oklahoma River and into Bricktown. What a fantastic bike trail. I stopped to get some iced tea at Starbucks, and then had plans to catch the Katy Trail, an old converted railroad bed that follows I-35 north to the OKC Zoo, and then follow 63rd Street back to Nichols Hills and follow Grand Boulevard back to Hefner.
However, as I sat there sipping my tea a cold, cold wind blew in, dropping the temperature 15 degrees in about 2 minutes. Uh oh! That made me quickly change my plan. I knew a cold front was headed toward OKC – my phone had just flashed a winter storm watch – and figured I better head back to my truck pronto. The problem is that my truck was probably 8-10 miles away and there were no direct bike trails to get there. I decided to cut back west through downtown OKC and then through an industrial area and catch the May Avenue bike trail that goes north past the OKC Fairgrounds, then follows I-44 north to Hefner. I much prefer to ride bike trails over busy roads. I am not a big fan of sharing the road with cars.
I used my knowledge of OKC to cut through downtown along sidewalks and secondary streets, then through an old industrial part of town between Reno and 10th street. I pretty well know my way all along the backroads of OKC but discovered some new routes that I didn’t know about. I saw a guy in the distance riding a railroad right of way so decided to try that route. There were plenty of bicycle tracks in the dirt alongside the tracks, evidence that this was a busy route. Well, I discovered it lead to one of the several “hidden tent cities” scattered around downtown OKC. Not a big problem – they don’t bother me and I don’t bother them. I am sure they didn’t like me riding through their “front yard” but I didn’t see anyone in the tent cities so just kept pedaling. I normally might have stopped and talked, but in my bike shorts and shirt and obviously expensive bicycle I wouldn’t exactly fit in.
Eventually I caught the May Avenue trail north and started pedaling hard, trying to keep my core temperature up so I wouldn’t freeze to death. Well that was an exaggeration, but it was getting quite cold. My fingertips (remember the fingerless gloves) were getting quite numb and starting to tingle. The temperature was now in the low 40’s and the winds were out of the north at a stiff 15 mph, right in my face on the long pedal back to my truck. As long as I was pedaling hard I was fine, but when I stopped for the long stoplights at 39th Expressway and Northwest Expressway I got a bit chilled until I got moving again. Finally pulled up to my truck about 40 minutes later, tossed my bike on the rack and turned the heater of my truck on full burner. I have been colder while riding – actually much colder – but that doesn’t make it any better. I knew I was going to be fine, just needed to warm up a bit. My core was warm but man my fingers and nose got a bit frosty.
I ended up with a fun ride that was cut a bit shorter than I planned but still had a good ride. I set 25 personal records on Strava without really trying, thanks mostly to my new Giant TCX and partially to my winter training plan and Zwift for making it fun to ride indoors.