Whenever my sister comes to visit me in California, one of the first things she comments on is the weather, which she deems ‘too warm for cycling’. To be fair, she still joins me on rides, and I’m fairly sure she enjoys them as much as I do. The thing is, she tends to visit in October, which in Sacramento means weather in the 80s most of the time, and my sister is used to riding most of the year in English temperatures: cooler mornings, higher humidity (read: dampness), and rarely any serious heat. And by October, there’s an awful lot of rain where we both grew up.
So after she arrives, and we go out for our first ride, she’ll be a little beaten up by the weather, and we’ll get into a familiar conversation about how she prefers to ride in the cool weather she is used to, and how I actually prefer the warmth. In fact, I’ve even gone so far as to say “the hotter the better”, to which she replies, “idiot”. That’s just how I roll. At least, so I thought.
In August, while Michael and I were training for Gran Fondo II, we booked a succession of weekends to ride up Beatty Circle, a local 2k ballbuster with some tasty 16% grade sections. One Saturday in late August we rode up three times, and by the third ascent, Mike and I were in la-la land. Not enough shade, not enough breeze. We went home feeling like we’d been smacked about for half an hour. Even the long, fast descent didn’t make up for the heat exhaustion.
On the ride home, I started thinking about how much more pleasant the climb would have been in English weather. Then I started fantasizing about a long, chilly ride over the Cotswold hills, dressed in long sleeves, with a scarf, base layer, toe-covers and full-length leather gloves. It’s cold to begin with, but you soon warm up, right? Maybe my sister has a point: riding in the cold, you have to work harder to stay warm, and you necessarily burn more calories that way, too.
Today is much, much cooler than the last time I went out for a ride, and the humidity is considerably higher. It might even rain – conditions that would usually have me sequestered inside, staring forlornly out the wondow at another missed riding opportunity. But, if I can convince Michael to join me, I have a serious jones to get bundled up and go and see what Beatty Circle feels like in English weather.
Then I’ll probably come home and moan about how it won’t be warm again in Sacramento for another four months.