Cold weather shouldn’t be an excuse for not enjoying nature. Clothing manufacturers has dedicated years of work perfecting amazing clothes for cold weather activities. Take advantage of some overly priced products to enjoy your favorite outdoor activity. For cold weather cycling, I try not to not go ape shit with the layers. Too much layers make you sweat profusely! normally wear long sleeve Under Armour as top base layer; I have two different long sleeves that varies in thickness. It’s a great luxury having different thickness of long sleeves to choose from depending on how much heat is absent that day. I do have a thin windproof rain jacket I will use for windy days. In fact, the other day I had on the thick Under Armour and the rain jacket for a 45 degree ride and I got SUPER HOT. My sleeve was soaking up my sweat!!! Windproof rain jacket makes an awesome layer to block wind, but make sure you’re able breath your inside to prevent moisture build up. I only own one pair of tight pant with crotch padding to wear while mountain biking.(I need to get a new pair or two!) I’ll throw in a thick long wool sock to keep my toe and ankle warm. I have this: http://www.backcountry.com/backcountry-goat-sleeve for my head. It so thin it will fit comfortable between helmet and the head. It not very warm, but it does prevent cold air from chapping up my face. If it’s really cold, I have a fleece balaclava that keeps me warm and fits comfortably under the helmet. As for your hands, windproof gloves works really well and long as you can move your digits to shift, brakes, etc., you’re golden.
For backpacking/hiking, I use lot of same clothes I wear biking minus the pant with crotch padding. I have a blend of poly/wool for my leg and wear nylon pants over it. I always avoid cotton at all cost because it absorb moisture. Wool, polyester, and nylon are golden since they shed moisture well, and still keep you plenty warm. The reason I keep saying you need to be able shed moisture is because in the winter, if your body is covered in moisture the cold air+moisture on your body= potential hypothermic situation. I always carry two sets of warm clothes for winter backpacking trips. One to wear while hiking and the other for when I set up camp. I wear the thinner layers when hiking to prevent myself from getting hot but my jacket is always on a standby in my backpack if it gets cold and windy. When I setup camp I’ll shed the thin layers off in exchange for thicker layers, and then put on my insulated jacket to keep all my heat trap in my body. After change of clothes I break my sleeping bag out and start puffing it up (it keeps you warm due to loft) and get the insulated pad blown up. After I do these activities, I’ll start building a fire, cook a hot meal, have a hot beverage, then enjoy the starlit skies if the weather cooperate. The bottom line is, cold weather activities can be enjoyable with proper clothes. I hope this post give you guys ideas on how to manage your body’s temperature during cold weather activities, and get outside to enjoy nature during her coldest season!
Fall mountain biking could hands down be the most gorgeous season to ride bikes. The cooler weather and scenery fall brings to our mountains can make a pleasant ride for all riders. However, it’s not all peaches and cream riding bikes in the fall. If you’re riding somewhere new, leaves covered trail can be your worst enemy. Especially if you cannot follow the trail line or unknown to you there are big rocks, nasty roots, etc., underneath the leaves that could make you endo. (Paying your flesh tax by going over the handlebars) If you’re riding in a new place where park rangers or local bike club has blown the leaves off the trail, be sure to thank them. A lot of experience riders can follow or read the trails very well. My biggest difficulty when riding in the fall at a place I’m familiar with is maintaining control of my bike. Riding on leaves is almost the same as riding on ice! Countless of times I nearly lost control so bad that I could have broken my shoulder, cracked a rib, another concussion, broken arm, or worse, damage my bike! I have pedals where my feet are “clipped” into the pedals to prevent me from losing cadence from bouncing off roots, rocks, etc. Most people that see my pedals says it a “death trap” but really it’s fairly easy to “unclip” otherwise I would have suffered all of the injuries above. I actually came down a hill at a moderate speed and made a sharp turn and barely tapped my brakes on a leave covered trail, then the bike just slid out from under me and I unclipped in a nanosecond. As I put my foot down, I nearly twisted my ankle in the process. Fall mountain biking definitely keeps you on your toes. Not only you have difficulty maintaining control of the bike on sharp turns, but climbing can be a chore. I’ve lost traction countless of times on steep climbs due to the leaves providing virtually no traction. Either that or I just don’t weight enough to keep the bike glue to the trails, or both!
One of the most often asked question I would get is, “why do you hike?” Two of the biggest reasons I like to hike is: I like to push my body’s limit and I find spiritual enlightenment that consume my mind in a positive manner. To elaborate on the former, I find it self-satisfying to achieve a goal. When backpacking, I want to push my body’s physical and mental capabilities by doing long treks over rough terrains and unforgiving mountain weathers. There no better ways, in my mind, to feel good about your attributes by pushing them to the edge on difficult hikes. At the end of the hike endorphins will flood your mind and you will feel extremely satisfied with the goals that you have accomplished.
To discuss the spiritual enlightenment aspect of hiking, human have many negative emotions that affect one’s life. Depression, anger, sadness, stress, anxiety, and many others that affect a person’s life in negative manners. I still deal with many of these emotions myself, and to escape it I find tranquility in the mountains that I love. I found enlightenment about a year ago in the Smokies. I was sitting on a rock that was situated in middle of Big Creek. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of rushing water, I immediately starting seeing the truth of life and happiness that I could maintain. I maintained this happiness all the way until a few weeks after I graduated from college. I spent the majority of the summer away from the mountains and now I’m starting to venture back onto the mountains I love and find that happiness again, and this blog will track that journey as well as personal feats.
I created this blog to write about my encounters on the mountains of wherever my journey takes me. I may occasionally blog some thoughts about social and economic issues, but the primarily purpose of this blog is to entertain readers about my experience while riding bikes and backpacking. Over the next few days I’ll write about some past experiences to get the blog rolling, then future trips will be blogged as they take place. I hope you enjoy the reading materials!