Dan McCausland's Embrace The Cold article got me thinking...maybe his 10 step guide is just what I need to get in some winter miles while in Santa Fe for the holidays.

The weekend forecast looks perfect - for a winter ride - with snow flurries, low 14, high 27, 20mph wind and single digit wind chill.  The best "spirited" group ride in town is the Dulce 9:05er on Sunday.  It rolls year-round on a popular route through Eldorado, Lamy, Galisteo, Cerrillos and La Cienega.

Logging the winter miles. Credit: Snek Cycling (purveyors of stylish cycling goods)
Before running down Dan's 10 ice covered steps to enjoy winter riding I check with the Boss Lady since I'll likely risk life and limb riding in arctic weather.  Plus, afterwards I'll surely forgo my holiday spousal obligations since I'll be "too tired" to do anything but lay on the couch.  Luckily, I've perfected this prone discussion after decades of trial and error.  She too has decades of experience with me riding in epic conditions, always asking one question, "Life insurance current?"

With her enthusiastic support, I proceed to the first step.

1. GET A WINTER KIT.  Although I'm not lucky enough to roll in a high-tech Rapha, Assos or Panache winter kit, I do own lots of vintage clothing from "back in the day".  So, I dig out wool jerseys, wool shorts, ski gloves, thermal shirts, wool tights, neoprene booties and also stop by REI to picked up an all-important balaclava to keep my head toasty.

2. USE LAYERS.  I follow the "more is better" approach to layering and try my best to look like Bibendum - The Michelin Man.   I quickly remember that speed is of the essence when adding layers, do it quick and get outside.  The last thing you want before throwing a leg over the top tube on an ice-cold morning is damp clothing as sweat beads rolling down your forehead.

3. NO NEED TO SHAVE LEGS.  After 40 years of leg shaving it's hard to change.  Actually, it's impossible to change.  The razor and shaving cream industry depend on me.  Massive layoffs and financial catastrophe will ensue if I stop buying product.  Plus, my wife will make me sleep on the floor if I ever come to bed with prickly leg stubble.

4. SUN TAN LOTION NOT REQUIRED.  I think Dan's been out in the sun too long.  After a long winter ride at altitude in sunny Santa Fe my face will look like a racoon or, if I'm lucky, an Olympic alpine Super G skier.  Like the song says "Trust me on the sunscreen".

5. TAKE TIME TO ENJOY THE VIEWS.   Great advice for every ride.

6. RIDE SLOWER.  Today this is a non-issue since nobody else shows up.  The Dulce 9:05er embraces the cold with a group of one - me.  I ride a steady tempo intensity to generate just enough heat to stay warm.  Though I did ride hard once, when a cold hungry coyote stared at me like I was a warm burrito wrapped in wool.              

7. WINTER RIDERS HAVE BETTER SKILLS.  I'm with Dan on this one.  Only hard core cycling addicts with good skills ride in the winter.  Halfway through my ride I meet another skilled addict, Matt Seagrave, former Pro, Belgian hard-man and ex-Texan.  He missed the start and rode reverse till meeting my "group" on the undulating crossover section to Cerrillos.  We then ride side-by-side six inches apart in 20mph wind on icy roads while chatting as frozen spittle sticks to our blue lips.  I don't care who you are, that requires skill.  We both laugh that two ex-Texans are the only riders today, especially since Texas winter riding starts when temps drop below 70 and ends at 50...

8. ENJOY POST-RIDE WARMTH.  As we finish the ride my mind fantasizes about enjoying a Dulce coffee and cinnamon roll.  Unfortunately, it's just a fantasy as the bakery is closed.  With frozen tears in my eyes I pedal home where my wife, like a saint, is waiting with homemade tortilla soup.  In the shower my skin tingles with "pins 'n needles" as the body warms from uncomfortably numb to comfortably numb.  Finally, I sit down in front of a fire with a glass of wine to relax, warm my soul and, of course, fall asleep.
9. AMAZE THE NON-BELIEVERS.  Over the years, I've given up explaining to everyday folk what I do on the bike.  They can't comprehend the truth.  It's easier to just say "I worked out today" than tell them I rode a bike for 3 hours in 20 degrees - just for fun.  Nothing I say will convince them I'm anything but crazy.

10. THE FEELING - YOU DID IT WHEN OTHERS DIDN'T.  Dan nailed it.  I prefer to look for reasons to ride rather than not ride.  In the cold it's an epic adventure, just like a bucket ride, that can't be replicated any other way.  For me there is no better feeling.  Just remember when you head out always be prepared and don't get in over your head.

Cheers and most of all enjoy the ride.  What's on your bucket list?

John is a former faux pro racer enjoying life as a geriatric cyclist in search of great bucket list rides to keep him in shape and out of trouble - well, at least in shape. 

He writes about his Bucket Rides in all their variety and glory for Granfondo.com. See his other pieces here