News Journal

Too cold for shorts

Posted on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 12:03 am (PST)

Without doubt, one of my pet peeves (other than the actual phrase ‘pet peeve’) in the observation of people riding bikes, is how many people ride their bikes in cool to cold weather in shorts.

Vancouver being the “people who think they know what they are talking about and think they are cool by doing what they are doing when in reality they are complete retards” capitol of the world, we can nearly always see people on bikes in real rubbish weather wearing shorts whilst on their bikes. And its not always just the shorts thing. In this town it can be -20K and you will find some goof biking in only a T-shirt on top.

You see them out there with their legs dangling out of their shorts like two little pink piggies, blushed from the frigid air passing by. Wind chill is a scientific fact. Do they not know that at a mere 28kph in 5C the windchill puts it at an ‘real’ temp of -3C. Speed up to 50kph on a mild descent and its suddenly -8C.

A couple of Sundays ago I was doing some girlfriend maintenance (as opposed to being in the shop)by doing a walk at a beachy part of town. The weather was sort of sunny but like Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, there was a definite nip in the air.  About 5C it was plus there was a sharp breeze too.  I was wearing four layers plus my fleece lined jacket zipped right the way up and I was cold walking into the wind. But this is Vancouver and just because there was a bit of sunshine, there they were, cycling along with several garments too few, legs the colour of a lobster.

Under-dressing has to be one of the most common faux pas’ of the uneducated rider. The ill effects of such habits are numerous. For a start, the knees have little in the way of fat insulation around them (or at least they shouldn’t) and they require an ample supply of synovial fluid flowing around the knee area for joint lubrication while working. When the knee gets chilled, the synovial fluid will not move as easily through the area and this can lead to joint irritation and perhaps even water on the knee.

A second consideration would be the fact that if all that blood is going to the top layer of the skin to make the legs  so nice and pink, then there’s not as much available to go through the muscles to carry out the lactic acid and other by products of working musculature….makes yuz more tired feeling.

The other thing is fat build-up. Ever notice how Olympic type swimmers, in spite of the fact that they can do up to 6-7 hours of cardio exercise a day, still never look totally ripped? A pro cyclist that does the big miles can look like he’s got flesh toned cellophane over his muscle structure. Why not a swimmer?

How about the fact that for many, many hours a week the swimmer is pushing his/her body through cool water. The body’s wonderful adaptation system says, “Hello….things are kinda cold at the outside there, better let some fat build up for protection.” Hence swimmers never have that real 2% body fat look.

Last time I checked, fat is just a free loader when it comes on a performance-oriented cyclist. Its the bike riders enemy. It does nothing but slow you down on the uphills and makes you look bad in the team photo. And yes its true; loosing excess body weight (by fat) will make the same or more diff than loosing the weight off your bicycle (wheel weight can be an exception)

You’re always best to overdress as opposed to the opposite. If you get a bit hot, you’ll just sweat a bit more. If you get too cold, well, we just talked about that. 19-20 C is a generally considered the transition temp to bare legs. A friend of mine spent a summer racing in Belgium a while back and even he was surprised when he saw the Italian national road team training there, in tights, when it was 25 degrees C.

Racing of course, is another story. Unless its crazy cold, you race in shorts, perhaps with a load of liniment, but you race in shorts….with ample layers on top though.

So don’t have people that know look at you and laugh, by going out bare legged when its ‘too cold for shorts’.