Saturday, October 24, 2015

Coffeeneuring #4 2015, an exercise in checking how I dress for cold weather cycling

It is fall and it is getting colder, if only in fits and starts.  I had a pretty cold weekend coffeeneuring ride last weekend and it was even colder today.  According to, the low in Concord this morning, about the time I passed through, was around 25 degrees.  That turns out to be pretty cold when you are riding a bike.  I was prepared for it, as much as I could given what I had on hand.  I ended up riding 43 miles, starting at about 5:15 AM, and rode through Lexington, Bedford, Concord, Acton, and Lincoln.  It was a beautiful morning, including about an hour or so of riding in the dark.  I was well lit and had a lot of reflective material on me and felt pretty safe.  And I wasn't alone out there.  I saw 5 or 6 cyclists about to get started at the Concord rotary (the one near the Colonial Inn in Concord center) and not long after saw a couple of women riding into Concord center on Lowell Road.  But that's all of the cyclists I saw before sunrise.  I also saw a few people running. And I saw a cat near Arlington Great Meadows on the bike path looking feral, two bunnies and one coyote.  The coyote was about to cross the bike path then it saw me and changed its mind and headed back into someone's yard in Lexington.

I was pretty well dressed for the weather but I had two weak points - my arms above my elbows and my feet.  I think I could deal with my arms getting cold and they really only got cold on fast descents, which isn't all that much when riding in the dark.  My feet were another matter.  By the time I was in Acton center, heading south to Taylor Road and a Route 2 crossing, I was actively working my toes around to get them warmed up.  It was probably 25 degrees about then.  I was wearing a heavy pair of wool socks, my cycling shoes, and neoprene overshoes, the kind with the bottom mostly cut out to accommodate walking and hardware for clipping into pedals.  In retrospect, I could probably do fine with this set up if I got some insulated insoles and, maybe, chemical heaters.  With both, I'd bet that I could ride into the teens for a decent distance.  I'm in the market for a warmer glove and that would be necessary at that temperature.  I'm also in the market for fleece lined tights, thanks to Matt Roy's advice.  My light tights did well enough today but I would appreciated something warmer at cooler temperatures than today.

Anyway, to get back to coffeeneuring, my feet were getting cold and I thought that getting off my bike sooner than later was a good idea.  My route was planned to stay closer to town and on familiar roads.  This was because I had a deadline for getting back home and also for safety, considering the cooler temperature and the lack of light at the started of the ride.  I also included three possible stops for coffee: Nashoba Bakery in West Concord, Haute Coffee in Concord, and Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington.  Given my cold feet, I opted for Nashoba, which was the first one I would pass, and rolled in not long after then opened, though I wasn't the first person there.  Comfort food was pretty desirable and they had what I needed.  I also order a latte.  The food was great, the coffee was hot, and the room was warm enough.  I was very happy to be inside long enough (and it was a quick breakfast) to warm up and for the sun to warm the atmosphere a few degrees.  And that was enough to make me comfortable for the rest of the ride home.

So do I recommend Nashoba?  The food is fine.  If I had more time and was hungrier, I would have tried a pastry, which I enjoyed in the past.  The coffee was OK, but not great.  The room is comfortable and bike parking is ample in back (there is no parking in front of the shop.  I parked my bike within sight of the window and didn't bother locking it.

Comfort food is sometimes necessary, especially when you have cold feet and the rest of you isn't exactly overheating when you are wearing everything you have with you.

I made a quick stop at the Gropius House. My wife tells me that a tour is worth your while but it was closed when I went past.  Note the clever use of my helmet as a kickstand, copyright @coffeeneur.

It's looking like late October on Flint Pond in Lincoln, MA.  Peak leaf peeping season has passed, which is expected about now.

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