It’s a sweet sunny day out as I write this. More like a late May day than the ides of March day it is. I’ve had my bike out and have been riding for a couple of weeks. Even before the weather was as nice as it is now. I usually try to get on the roads buy mid March. By then I am really sick of riding the stationary bike. Pedaling a bike to nowhere really dull. It tests my resolve to keep active and exercise.

The key to getting on the road in late winter is dressing warmly. That and having no ice on the roads. Driving a bicycle on ice is not a fun task. It’s easier to cycle when it’s cold out in March than it is in November. First off the rides are shorter. In March I’m just starting out again and I’m at my stage one ride as opposed to my stage four ride when I’m at my peak. Less time in the cold obviously makes it easier to ride

Second is the psychological factor. In November I’m always wondering when the snow will be coming and when it will be too cold to ride. I pull the bike out and think, “Is it still warm enough to ride today?”. That takes an unexpected amount of energy. Usually when it drops down into the 30’s F is when it’s too cold but the wind can kill you too.

One thing I did last year to keep going in the cold was shorten my ride a little. I moved back from a stage four to a stage three. That cut out the biggest hill from my ride but also motivated me to keep riding despite the cold. That big hill would melt my resolve to continue cycling outside because the cold and wind really sap my strength. Moving the route back to stage three was better than the boredom stationary bike. More exercise too.

Last year I bought some new thermals for riding in. They helped. My old ones were getting quite tattered and not offering as much warmth as they once did. The new ones were that thinner type they have nowadays compared to my old thicker waffle like ones but they work just as well. I still like the look of those old ones though. They look rugged rather than sleek.

The one thing that really helps in the cold is a windbreaker. I don’t know how many years I rode out in the cold without one but it was many. Every year I would say to myself, “I should really get a windbreaker” but somehow I never did. When the wind would cut through my many layers, and you need a lot of them without a windbreaker, it would be really frigid. I didn’t ride as late in the year as I do now because of it.

It was a few years ago I saw that had a sale on windbreakers. I must admit that one of the reasons I never bought a windbreaker is that I never saw one in a store. I didn’t look especially hard but a thin plastic windbreaker with no lining is not a common item. The ones on Amazon were college windbreakers and were only about ten bucks. I ordered one of the University of Tennessee. I’ve never been there and have no affiliation with the school but their team color is bright orange and so was the windbreaker. Bright colors are good when riding.

I want to be seen when I’m on my bike. I want every car on the road to take notice of me. I don’t want to be run over because some driver didn’t see me as I blended in with the background. No blending thank you. When not wearing the windbreaker I have on a bright green Orlando Thunder football jersey. They’re a team that only existed briefly in the World League of American Football from 1991 to 1992. No one remembers them but they had cool and unique jerseys. After it gets too warm for a jersey I wear a bright green T-shirt.

I never got into wearing cycling clothes. It’s probably because I’m cheap. That and I possess the typical artist’s distain for joining groups. I don’t know why that’s a common trait for artists but it is. I have also found that a lot of cycling outfits look like some sort of SS officer rec uniforms. They’re a little too fascist for my taste. That could just be sour grapes though.

Any way you cut it I’m glad to be off the stationary bike and back out onto the road. Not only is it a better form of exercise but it’s a lot more fun too. Zooming down a hill is always a good time.