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Below Freezing Point Biking

Until Sunday, my coldest weather ride was above the 32F mark.  If you are a cyclist, you probably have a temperature that you "don't bike under" and I've gradually moved my mark down but have held firm this winter at the freezing point.  If it is that cold, there is likely snow on the ground and I can skate ski or run or something other than exposing my face at 20mph without goggles.  On Sunday, boredom and my "will ride as long as the roads aren't icy" husband convinced me that I could break the barrier and still survive.

I rode the trainer every day last week and by Saturday morning, I just couldn't bear another session.  We have a great setup, but I needed to be outside.  Terry had meetings in the morning, so I watched as the thermometer slowly climbed from the single digits to the mid 20's but couldn't make myself go out.  Terry got home and bundled up in his warmest gear, but I still wasn't mentally ready.  Instead, I threw on a couple layers of running gear and we drove to our favorite coffee shop parking lot.  We both got in great workouts and stayed warm.  I  was having a great run, rocking out to The White Stripes, and BAM! came around a corner and spooked an elk!  
Trail Run - before the Elk

There was scat along the ridge, but I figured the elk had migrated across the ridge between valleys.  I've always heard stories about elk in Park City, but had never seen a herd.  The surprised elk ran uphill a few feet and then turned and stared me down.  I was too shocked to take out my ear buds or grab my camera phone, and as I looked behind him, noticed 5 of his friends were also checking me out.  I wonder if they could smell that I was a vegan human and meant no harm.  Whatever the case, we all stood still for what seemed like minutes, but was likely 30 seconds.  I decided to pretend I didn't see them and continue down the trail walking.  I looked back after another minute and the entire herd (10-15) were up higher on the ridge watching me.  I finally took out a bud and my camera, but didn't get a good picture.  They didn't look dangerous, just curious, but since I had never been this close to an elk herd I decided to move on.  I started running further down the trail away from them and they immediately did the same.  They went across the ridge above me crashing thru the sagebrush and I lost sight of them.  I waited a bit and then climbed another trail towards the ridge to see where they went and finally spotted them a mile away across the valley.  I finished my run with no further distractions. I hope the elk were just as excited to see me and I hope they stay safe throughout the winter.

Now back to biking.  Terry didn't appear to be too cold after Saturday's ride, so I started building my courage for joining him on Sunday.  He was supportive all morning and again we watched the temps rise.  When I saw 28F, I committed and started layering.  I ended up with shorts, long underwear, and winter tights on bottom.  More long underwear on top, followed by a vest, winter cycling coat, and rain coat.  Balaclava, winter gloves, and neoprene booties kept my extremities covered.  We didn't have sun like Saturday, but the extra degrees helped.  We rode 90minutes and it was more survival/adventure than enjoyable, but I survived and wasn't on the trainer!

Fast forward to yesterday and I got up the nerve to do it again, by myself.  The sun was shining and it hit 31F so I opted to skip the long underwear bottoms and instead wore knee warmers.  I also came up with an adventure to keep my mind off the cold.  I took my camera and stopped at every ski area I usually go by on a normal Park City ride.  The wind was annoying, but I got in another great workout outside and plenty of strange looks from the skiers and boarders.  I think I'll hold steady on my freezing point limit, but at least now I know that I can go lower if there are no other options.
White Pine Nordic Center
PCMR - Silver Star
Deer Valley


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