Saturday, January 21, 2017

Motivation for Longer Winter Rides - Coffee Outside and Handwarmers

Coffee Outside Burlington at the waterfront skate park.
I made an error when I stated, "I ride for transportation only, in the winter," because, as it turns out, it wasn't exactly true. On special occasions I ride for healing, for health, for sunshiny days that lend comfort, and perhaps squeeze in an errand or two along the way. On this particular early Friday morning in January it was by pure coincidence that I could even attend, but I made a thermos of chai, bundled up, and rolled down to the waterfront to meet up for the first time with the Coffee Outside crew.

The Burlington Coffee Outside event has been going on for nearly a year, sponsored by local roaster Brio, who offered their beans to brew in your own coffee toys - and indeed a couple stoves were hissing as I joined the group - but thermoses were also in abundance, should one want to avoid brewing in 25F and sip a hassle-free cup of joe.

I was surprised that 15 people showed up, considering the temperatures, but as I'm learning there are many hardy riders and new folks moving to our region all the time. I met Joy and Sammy, avid cyclists who completed the Tour Divide and decided to move from Massachusetts so Sammy would be closer to Montreal's track cycling scene. Most of the avid local riders were in attendance - I'm thankful these regulars also organize the Solstice Ride and are engaged in advocacy.

After an hour my feet were growing cold so I departed and continued northward along the bike path. I had purposely stuffed hand warmers inside my mittens and I was pleased that year-old chemical reaction still worked after buying a whole box the previous winter, which turned out surprisingly mild.

A few miles later blood pumped into my feet and I took a break on the Winooski River Bridge, a favorite, peaceful and often therapeutic spot. I wished my husband was beside me, staring at icy Lake Champlain, but I understand if you are unconditioned to cold weather cycling then leisurely winter rides sound painful and unappealing. I had offered to go for a long walk instead, but we each grieve and find comfort in our own ways to get through tough times. For me that's obviously on a bike, so I pedaled beyond the bridge, stopping for errands en route, arriving home spiritually clear-headed and physically satiated, ready for a difficult afternoon and weekend.


  1. Grieving with you. Pedaling with you. But in considerable warmer temperatures. :-)

    1. It seems we never know what our bodies are capable of...until we try. I still find it amazing that a ride in 25F weather can be powerful and cleansing. A simple bike ride can mean so much!

    2. I didn't ride Saturday although the weather was perfect for a ride. Instead, I ceremoniously burned the morning newspaper in my driveway without reading one word of it. I watched as the ashes blew away in the wind. Then I went inside, picked up my guitar and harmonica and sang "Blowing in the Wind".

    3. I always find it fascinating how much cloudy vs. sunny and damp vs. dry affects my perception of the temperature. I can be more comfortable at 25 and sunny than I am at 40 and damp.

      But even cold, you are right, a good ride is "powerful and cleansing."


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