Riding In December

I’m still learning; hopefully I will continue learning for the rest of my riding days.  I don’t want to become complacent and think I know all there is to know.  The most recent lesson is about base layers for winter.  While I have ridden year round in the last two years, I typically stayed in the city.  Not this time!

Yesterday my riding partner and I rode from my house in the Denver metro area  to Estes Park, Colorado which is a beautiful town on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.  The elevation is about 7500 feet, so a bit cooler than the Denver suburbs.  The weather forecast said mid 50s but that definitely dropped as we went higher.  Also, there was a pretty heavy cloud cover which dropped the temperature.  Lastly, I keep forgetting that in the winter (or near winter) 50 degrees feels cooler than the spring/summer 50 degrees!

Fortunately I have a nice and toasty lower base layer and decided to wear it yesterday.  I have not had the chance to use it since finding it on clearance a couple years ago, but I was very grateful for it by last night.  My upper base layer is not as toasty, so I decided that adding a fleece layer would be enough.  Wrong!  The first issue I noticed is the fleece is bulky, so it made my outer jacket uncomfortably snug.  Good thing I didn’t have to move around much.  The next issue was that the fleece layer’s sleeves got stuck mid way up the arm of my jacket.  That made for an uncomfortable situation and ended with my riding partner helping me grab those sleeves and pull them down further in my jacket.  At least we had some good laughs over it.  The final lesson was something I had not realized before.  Fleece lets air in.  Cold air!  AAAHHH!

With the shorter days, we keep finding ourselves riding home in the dark.  Not a big deal as we’re pretty comfortable doing that, but the temperature kept dropping.  At one point  the temperature reading on my GS was a  balmy 28 degrees!  Thankfully that wasn’t typical and most of our route home was in the 35-40 degree range, but still.  We were pretty cold by the time we reached my house.  I went in search of a new top base layer and hope that I found one that is similar to the bottom base layer I have.  It should be here in a few days, so I will test it out and report back.

My quest to ride all year will be so much nicer when I sort out what gear I need to stay warm and comfortable as the temperature drops.  If you have any ideas that you’ve found work well, leave me a comment; I’d love to hear them!

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