I was leaving the house at noon after spending the morning checking the complete flickr photo account of Tom for pictures of fur coats. To my excuse I have to say that there is very little else one can do in Bremen in November when temperatures had dropped down to zero degrees.
Nevertheless I prepared myself for a short winter ride. The words „preparation“ and „short ride“ and their relation to each other change completely over the seasons. In summer the duration of a preparation is about 15 minutes and consists of putting on socks, heartbeat monitor, bib shorts, jersey shoes, gloves and helmet (in that order. I try to avoid looking into a mirror when having only socks and heart beat monitor on) then running back to the house to collect the water bottle, running back again because one has left the camera, then cursing and climbing back up the stairs to look for the map, thus filling the required 15 minutes interval. This is then followed by rides of eight hours plus, as long as the sun is visible in the sky and in Germany during the summer than can be a damn long time. There is much more enjoyable riding time compared to less enjoyable preparation time.
In winter, on the other hand, the preparation time is endless. It starts with the pounding about the right choice of attire. Lately I have been reading something about how PE members laughed about overdressed, sweaty winter riders they encountered on their trips and that left me now as a nervous, neurotic wreck shortly before every ride. Am I overdressed? Will somebody laugh at me? Shall I sell my yellow Assos Fugu Jacket? As if there were not enough issues already, I have always cold feet. So I started to use two layers of shoe covers. One neopren type just over the Shimano MTB shoes and another wind stopper like material on top. The neopren type shoe cover was cheap and I bought it at Rose, the favorite shop of Ludwig and myself. I shouldn’t really complain about them and it is certainly not in my interest to vituperate about Rose. But today I needed close to 40 minutes of preparation time and a large chunk out of that time was consumed by trying to close the zipper on the backside of the shoecovers. As this can only be done when the shoe covers are on, my neighbors saw me winding on the road in all kind of poses, commonly known from 12 year old Romanian girls engaging in rhythm sport gymnastics.
After I have finally managed to zip up both shoe covers I was seriously considering to keep them on until the next ride. Sleep with them, shower with them, walk around in holy academia …. everything is better than to put them on one more time.
And after endless 40 minutes of preparation, how long did I ride? 3 and a half hours. This relationship is sadly distorted. Coming home, I needed time to shower, redress, eat, drink some coffee, again valuable time spend. 5 hours bike related activities, not much riding thereof.
I choose a longer standard route today, along the river Wuemme (the Tamagawa equivalent) as usual but then further on to Lessum. There weren’t much bicycles on the road but quite a few people have opted to take a walk. I hit a cobblestone section of the road that was lying in the shadow of some trees and immediately the ride got wobbly and I almost fell down on the slippery surface. From then onwards I rode very carefully, checking the surface for spots of black ice and keeping speeds down. Now all the leaves are gone and it is more fun to ride on the bike paths as they are cleared of all obstacles. I rode on to Ritterhude, one of the few places that provides something like „hills“ and I climbed about 50 meter elevation difference as a preparation of the Transalp. The further on to Osterholz-Scharmbek where I took the obigatory SOS landscape photo, and further on the Worpswede on the standard loop. My average speed was down to 25 km/hr and I am not exactly sure why. Sure, there was some headwind but overall it was just difficult despite keeping the heartrate in the 145 – 155 bracket.
The road from Worpswede to Quelkorn was just boring as usual, I really don’t know why I am riding there. Fischerhude to Borgfeld in contrast is quite nice but I was quickly running out of steam. I had no food with me and when I tried to drink from the water bottle I noticed that the nozzle was frozen solid. My Ciclo device showned now minus degrees and my feets and my hands were iceblocks. Just four days ago I visited in a university excursion I huge German fish monger called „Deutsche See“ and we were shown arround the cold storage facilities, minus 24 degrees…. that was really cold. But today on the bike didn’t felt much better. My thoughts were running around…..a tune popped up in my head, first „Walk Hard“ by Dewey Cox and I could imagine this conversation from the trailer going on between my body and my mind:
Then I was again on the river Wuemme and after crossing the railroad line and after making a turn a Riensberg graveyard I was back at the house. 82 km only, time outside the house almost equal riding time. Too cold to make a break. By the way, to opt for the lighter Assos air jacket 851 with some uniqlo heatec trikot below was perfect. I need another pair of shoe covers, some overgloves and an hour more time for preparation though.