fitness · walking · winter

The case for cold, dark walks #November

So I am a resiliently cheerful person. I’ve often thought I could live almost anywhere for a period of time because I am good at finding things to love about even the most unlovable of places. I’ve also in the past thought the same thing about seasons and weather. Yes, the summer months are best–because swimming and beaches and bike riding and sailing and canoe camping etc–but most months have good things associated with them. But November? November and I struggle.

During a discussion on Twitter, someone sent this way way: Bad weather is good for you: take a walk in the wind and rain | Walking

The article even responds to my usual excuse–it’s too dark.

“There’s one more excuse I hear at this time of year: it’s too dark. Again, science has discovered plenty of reasons for an evening stroll. Not only does an after-supper walk control blood sugar levels (vital for diabetics) and help shunt food smoothly through the gut (meaning more efficient digestion and less constipation), but the dim evening light prompts our body to start making sleep-inducing melatonin.

A wet night is better still. According to Dr Kate McLean, an expert in urban scents and smells, damp nights enable us to uncover the world anew through our nose: “In darkness we alter our primary way of encountering the world, and when the air is damp it traps odour-causing molecules, transforming a dark, damp walk into a source of inspiration and imagination.”

So instead of binge-watching a box set, pull on your boots (making sure they’re watertight with good grip) and walk. One day, your body and brain will thank you.”

Maybe I’ll give it a try, the cold, wet after dinner walk with Cheddar the dog. I’ll report back!

Yellow umbrella with purple flowers, Photo by  marcia diaz  on  Scopio

Let it rain, and ride anyway, because sometimes you have to

bike2007Catherine Womack made the case here recently for riding in the ride.   She even manages to make riding in summer rain sound fun.

Of course, each person has their own idea of fun. I’ve written about each cyclist having their own limits when it comes to bad weather.  (For example, when commuting, I’ll happily ride home in the rain but I don’t like to ride to work in the rain. I hate arriving all wet and soggy though I’m okay landing at home that way.)  Tracy, on the other hand, when she rides her bike, is an unrepentant fair weather cyclist.

But there’s a good reason for getting used to riding in the rain and deliberately doing it some of the time. What’s the reason? Some time you have to ride in the rain and it’s good to know how to do it and see what your challenges are.

When do you have to ride in the rain?

Here’s four scenarios:

First, you get caught out on a training ride and it starts to rain. It happens.

Second, you’re doing a bike tour and have no other way to get from place a to place b. It’s raining but you have to ride. See my post on the rainy bits of the Bike Rally here.

Third, you’re racing in the rain. You show up and want to go fast but it’s raining. The photo above is me in the Kincardine triathlon, racing in the rain. It was cold and wet.

If you don’t know how to ride in the rain you might be in trouble.

Here’s sad footage of triathletes wiping out in the rain. “When conditions change suddenly in a triathlon then anything can happen. Here is a selection of bike crashes from the 2012 Auckland World Triathlon Grand Final when a torrential downpour made cycling conditions very challenging.”

Fourth, you plan an event, in Cheryl’s case the Farm to Forks Fondo, you register, you pay, you drive there and then the day of, it’s pouring rain. What’s a girl to do? Ride in the rain. She blogs about it here. Cheryl and I are friends and we have the same cycling coach. Today she showed up in different bike shoes. Why? The Fondo shoes were still wet!

Convinced? Here’s some tips from Bicycling about how to ride in the rain. And 10 tips from Active about how to ride in the rain.

I make sure there’s less air in my tires when riding in the rain. It’s nice to have a bit more rubber-road contact. Cornering is definitely not the same. See crash footage above! And allow more time to stop.

My personal challenge is my glasses. You can see from the pic above maybe. I’m not wearing them. It’s pointless. Rain streaming down the glass is worse than no glass at all. Also, running after in wet shorts was no run at all.