Austin, Texas, where A Dude Abikes abides, is not known for extremely cold winters. But the last two years, I’ve been much less resistant to cool temperatures. I’m not sure if that’s because I got in a freezing cold river in Vermont on a dare while visiting in 2017, the very hot summers have permanently thinned my blood, or something else. As one ages, resistance to cold is more common. But I’m not that old; nor has my skin thinned, nor have I lost a lot of body weight. Whatever is causing it, I wish I were warmer. To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey, “It’d be a lot cooler if I was.” (Interesting note: You know you’ve really made it big when spellcheck knows to put a u in there.)
Of course the advice you get is to “just wear more layers” or (with an annoying, smug laugh), “you’re not biking hard enough.” The thing about biking is if you can tolerate the first 10 minutes or so of being cold, you’ll warm up and not need as much clothes. Because if you bundle up with too many layers, pretty soon you’ll be sweating on the inside but may still have cold hands and toes. What i do is take the layers I need. I bring a lightweight backpack so I can add or ditch something if I need to. And hope I do warm up.
Looking at the weather history, I see that we’ve had four days in the 30’s this month and only one under freezing. Only one more 30-degree day is forecast. It’s usually in the 60’s for highs and 40’s for lows. Last December, there were 11 days in the 30’s and again just one below freezing. People up north must be laughing at those numbers. Those who have relocated here wear shorts when it’s 32 F without a second thought, because they’re used to the cold. What this all means is best left for the meteorologists. But why should we let people who only know about meteors (you know, space rocks) tell us the weather? That’s just weird.
Of course it doesn’t help matters that this old house I’m living in is leakier than the Trump White House. It’s got window air conditioning units with those little plastic side panels that don’t keep the cold out, a wonky foundation so the doors have gaps around them, high ceilings, and wood floors. I can’t complain, though I guess I just did. Obviously I need to do some winterizing, but that’s up to the lord of the land. He hasn’t turned his heat on, and just says, you guessed it, “put on a sweater.”
Listen here, Jimmy Carter, I’m all for economizing, saving energy, and such. I ride a bike — a lot. But when it’s 50 F inside, I’m still cold with a hat, socks, and six levels of bed clothes. So it’s space heaters to the rescue. I point the one with a fan at the one that’s like a radiator, and the warm air allows me to do yoga without my teeth chattering. We’ll see how bad the electric bill is, but it’s like I’m roughing it… inside. When I go to bed, I warm the room where I sleep and close all the other doors (which still leak air from the other, non-heated rooms). I find myself making hot water for tea or hot chocolate most days, and having more soup.
I actually have a theory about all this, which is that I bike so much I’ve given myself leukemia or some other malady that causes coldness. Or maybe it’s like when Superman was exposed to Kryptonite without knowing it, so he’s weakened. Except that I had no superpowers to begin with and I’m not that super. Although I’m possibly related to Batman. As a fathlete, I say I’m Fat Man, a distant cousin-in-law, thrice removed. Maybe it’s my heart, which is kinda old. Could be the circulation or something.
Well, I can take solace in that if and when things really get too cold, I can always put Sophie the Fairdale on the fixed bike stand and do trainer rides inside. They’ll still count because of the speed meter that I put on the rear wheel hub. I’ve done one so far this season, and it’s still boring as it can be. The two upsides are that I may get faster, and when pedaling at home, I definitely enjoyed simultaneously watching a movie.
By the way, do I get bonus points for a John Candy movie reference and a William Shakespeare reference in the title? Forget points, I’d settle for some central heating and a new thermostat in my cyborg power pack. And that’s what this blog is for, to spread the news, make inquiries, and figure the rest out later. But most of all, to Just. Keep. Biking. Cold? Schmold.
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