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WWR Report: ride, walk, run?

by on December 12, 2013

bikejo at -26°C Here’s Joanne outside the clubhouse after another successful Women’s Weekly Ride.

No one was brave enough to leave a comment on the blog and declare their intent to ride into the teeth of a windchill warning.

Fortunately, the temperature did not drop into the danger zone (-41°C), and since this is our third year of winter riding, we do know enough to take precautions. Besides, Tuesday is a bad night for television.

The evening started, as usual, at HQ. We all showed up late this week–getting the gear right on a really cold night is important, and time-consuming.

Lisa's layers

base layerWhen Lisa & I arrived, we found Cheryl prepping her latest hand-warming device.

If I understand the process correctly, after the first use, you have to boil these little gel packs to reset the chemicals, but this also makes them reusable.

Cindy found these particular warmers a few months ago–shaped like tiny hot water bottles.
boiling hand warmerstiny hot-water bottlesWhile we were waiting for Cheryl to choose the right layers for riding, Cindy & Joanne arrived and we all took advantage of the deluxe amenities available at HQ during a cold snap: Kleenex & Canadian whisky.anti-freeze

more layers!Eventually, Cheryl got her layers right and we went for a ride.
I wish I could tell you that all went according to plan and we had a completely uneventful evening. Naw.

Joanne and I spent our brief 8km ride wishing we had made better choices. We both didn’t have enough layers on our legs. I’m a Clydesdale, and I thought I could get by without ski pants. Joanne is the opposite of a Clydesdale–no idea what she was thinking–possibly she got some bad advice. Still–you’d think we would have listened to Cindy when she told us it was too cold to ride against wind on the gravel roads. Naw.

I was bringing up the rear, as usual, but I wasn’t too concerned about getting dropped…until I realized that I had forgotten to carry my cell phone. Then the mind games began. What was that sound? Probably just my helmet strap flapping against my jacket…but it could be a coyote stalking the weakest member of the club!

Fortunately, Joanne & Cindy were waiting for me at the next mile road intersection. I waved them off, but they stuck with me. Meanwhile, Lisa & Cheryl had ridden ahead and reached Hwy 201, but they turned around and came back to check up on their club-mates.

We regrouped and rode on for a bit, but it soon occurred to us that Cheryl and Cindy were going kinda slow. Turns out that Cindy had a flat tire and was walking back to town. I wish I could show you the scenes from Centre Avenue as we tried to figure out the most efficient way to carry on, but no way was I going to pull out the camera at -26°C.

So–Cindy & Joanne shared a bike–briefly, as Cheryl piloted the disabled cycle while riding her fixie. Then Joanne decided Cindy should ride while Jo ran the rest of the way to the clubhouse. I’m not sure if that actually happened, because at that moment we were passing the local convenience store–I was distracted by the idea of getting a roast beef sub, so I made a detour.

My point is that we did a fairly good job of choosing our gear, we overcame obstacles together, and we stayed safe. That’s how we measure success in Altona: no cyclists were left behind, despite a major mechanical failure at extreme temperatures.

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