Goals – What Are They Good For?

I’m not much of a one for resolutions. Make ’em and break ’em. Goals work a little better for me, if they are kept somewhere in the reasonable-challenging range. Having the goal of cycling 40 miles per week is giving an extra oomph of motivation to both John and I out on our bikes this month.

Without a goal cycling for fun can get pushed to the weekend’s back burner and left to simmer for weeks. Yesterday despite having a long “to-do” list and despite the wintery cold that has finally arrived, we got out there for a 15 mile ride.  Temperature was in the 30s with a wind chill making it feel like the low 20s, even with the gorgeous sunshine. Here’s how it went, from my perspective.

a) Don multiple layers of clothes. On top: Ibex wool long sleeve t-shirt, a long sleeved Nike synthetic running shirt, topped off with Ibex wool zip-neck sweater and a Lands End synthetic and slightly wind-resistant jacket. On bottom: padded spandex cycling undies, Boure winter cycling tights, and the ultimate fashion touch, slouchy wool dancer’s legwarmers, bought for a dollar at Goodwill some years back. Feet: silk socks, REI  wool socks, Merrel cross trainers. Head: hand-knit (by me!) wool hat, helmet on top. Neck: Ibex wool neck warmer. Hands: Lands End silk glove liners, REI all-sport gloves. Eyes: Rudy Project sunglasses with the darkest lenses.

b) Start. Brr. Whine a little. Much of the start of our route is downhill. Since the route is a loop it ends with a couple of miles of uphill. Try to think cheery thoughts about a tailwind on the home stretch, since we are now riding into a headwind. Status check: I am pretty much warm enough, except my fingertips which keep getting colder

c) Mid ride. Warmed up and pretty comfortable all over. More or less enjoying the ride. Even my painfully cold finger tips have warmed up. Here and there we see other cyclists. As we get to the final quarter of the 15 mile loop my toes start getting cold. During a quick pit stop I loosen the laces thinking part of the problem might be crowding in the toe of the shoe due to the thickness of my socks. Nice idea, but it doesn’t help at all.

d) Final stretch. Just plowing along, now getting warm enough to sweat a little.  Fantasize about a cup of tea and a hot bath.

My ride rate-o-meter is something like this. 5=all is well,  loving the ride, the scenery, the motion, and the free-floating right brain creativity. 4=still good, working harder and noticing it . 3=struggling now but confident I can handle it. 2=whining, more on the inside than audibly; catching myself doubting that I can make it. Brain activity is now focused on survival. 1=others now can hear the whining which likely has evolved to cursing; 0=overstressed, dignity gone, have to stop and recover.  Some rides encompass the whole scale. This one was mostly in the 2-4 range.

Given our goal, we’ll be out there again for a bit this afternoon. Still sunny, still windy, still cold – but it’s still possible to ride. We have yet to get any snow. Since that could happen any time, it’s good to get out there while we can. I’ll try some warmer shoes this time.

How is your winter cycling going?


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