Sunday Drew, Eli and I got out for a trail ride in some pretty cold conditions. I think the high for the day was in the upper 20s but there was wind and I’m sure it felt colder. Drew and Eli were both on their single speeds since all they ride are single speeds. I, on the other hand, chose to take the vintage, Beast of the East which proved to be a bad decision.
So it was cold and mercifully the trail was partially frozen making for less mud, unfortunately there were lots of mud holes and water crossings that weren’t frozen. Had I been on a single speed bike with disc brakes this wouldn’t have been a problem, but the Beast has gears and cantilever rim brakes. 30 minutes into the ride my brakes were marginal, an hour into the ride they weren’t working at all. Having almost no brakes caused me to take some emergency measures to stop. I had to run the bike off into the woods and try to grab trees, I had make cyclocross dismounts at a full run, and a couple times I just aimed for the highest slope I could.
Shortly after the brakes went the gears started to freeze up. I was able to keep the bike shifting in the first couple of cogs which was fine because once the speed got over 7-8 mph wind chill became pretty uncomfortable. I wore a short sleeve shirt, a thermal jersey and a heavy riding jacket and on bottom just shorts and tights. I needed one more layer on my legs and on my chest, I only felt warm on the climbs.
One part of me that wasn’t uncomfortably cold were my feet, thanks to the Lake winter boots that my pal Mark Salus gave me a couple years ago. They are really worn out, the waterproof liner is gone, and the insulation is no where near as effective as when they were new, but they are still warm. I oiled them up the night before giving them some water shedding capabilities and that allowed me to blast through cold creeks without soaked toes.
The ride was great, even with the technical problems and I was having a good time right up to the final climb. The straw that broke the camels back was my right SPD pedal jamming with ice. Eli’s flat pedals had iced over as well, only Drew’s egg beaters were still working well. The final climb put a hurt’n on me since I was relying mostly on my left leg and my right foot was sliding all over the place. I was the last person up the climb and super happy to see the truck all ready running and warming up.
Eli invoked “back in the day” explaining how they carried bottles of deicer to keep their rim brakes and gears working before the invention of single speeds and disc brakes. Eli also won the tough guy award for wearing summer running shoes and socks. His feet shoes were blocks of ice by the end of the ride, but he never complained about cold feet. He claims to do “cold feet ice training” throughout the year by soaking his feet in ice water. It seems to work.
Oh and believe it or not we didn’t see another sole enjoying this lovely day in the forest.