the off-season pt 1

the off-season pt 1

Sometimes people ask me …

that’s blogger code for “nobody ever asks me, but it’s what I want to talk about”.  In this case, though, people do ask me all the time.

… “Do you ride your bike outside all winter?”

No.  Here’s my rule: if it takes longer to get dressed for a workout than it does to actually do the workout, I stay inside.  Those indoor workouts are boring, but they seem to fit better into the flow of my life and I'm actually pretty disciplined about them.  So, from the time it looks like winter is here to stay, until I just can’t stand it anymore, I prefer to ride my rollers in the basement - that’s usually mid November to early March.  

But today (yesterday) is a Saturday morning in January and it is already 40 degrees outside.  That’s about 60 degrees warmer than it could be, so I feel an obligation to get out into the fresh air.

This is my cycling clothing management system. Maybe I could get some organizational help from my friends at .

This is my cycling clothing management system. Maybe I could get some organizational help from my friends at

About 30 minutes into the getting-dressed phase, I remember why I don’t do this very often.  There are all these decisions to be made:

  • Which base layer?

  • Which middle layer?

  • Do I need an outer shell, or just the orange fleece so hunters don’t shoot me?

And once decisions are made, I gotta find the stuff. There are two-each leg warmers, knee warmers, sock liners, arm warmers, but they’re never together.  Are they in my bin of cycling clothes that I wear regularly?  No, of course not, they don’t belong in there.  Are they in my bin of clothes I wear “occasionally” or are they in the bin of clothes that I wear “sometimes”?  Or are they somewhere else, entirely?  Here’s one.  Where’s the other?  I have no idea, I haven’t seen them since last March.  

After the entire process of getting dressed, it doesn’t really matter what I wear.  Five minutes into the ride, my torso will be sweating like hell and my hands and feet will be frozen.  Still, I will have been outside, seen some of the neighborhoods and countryside, gasped some fresh air, and it will be one less hour staring at the basement wall.  

I know there are people who ride outside all winter: hardcore commuters, snowbikers and the “I’m tougher than the weather” crowd.  Sometimes they’re out there by necessity and sometimes just because they can.  To them, I raise my mug of hot cocoa in salute, but I have no desire to join their reindeer games.  I’ll see you on the trail, in the spring.  

chris congdon

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men of letters

men of letters

playing nice is apparently not an option

playing nice is apparently not an option