Pushing Boundaries

One of the primary reasons we moved here was to be enjoy hiking, biking and paddling year round. As temps move into the single digits, we are being challenged to figure out just how to do this.

We have figured out that the primary challenge is keeping the extremities warm: fingers and toes.

We did a bike ride yesterday with temps hovering around 5°C. Even in the sun it’s cool, especially when descending the many hills we have around here. I had to convince Nicky that it was not too cold and it was a beautiful ride through the countryside where we enjoyed some water views, lots of farm views and hills up and down. We discovered that it was really quite achievable: dressed properly one can enjoy these temps. I think I have a good glove combination to keep my fingers warm, at least in this temperature range. If it gets much colder, we will have to move to plan B. Keeping feet warm, on the other hand is still a challenge. Shoes are mesh so wind, and potentially rain, can make the feet cold. I tried some boot covers yesterday. My feet started out warm and toasty but by the end of the 36km ride, they were decidedly chilly. So some more experimenting to do there.

We have now done several paddles with our drysuits. As mentioned before they keep us dry, but again our fingers and toes remain the big challenge. Neoprene gloves and neoprene pogies did the trick for me today. My fingers stayed toasty warm. Feet, on the other hand, not so good. Neoprene socks in neoprene boots didn’t keep my toes warm. The challenge with both biking and paddling is that feet don’t move around much – they are either clipped into the pedal or resting on the bottom of the boat, which is cooled by the water, and generally immobile, on the foot pegs. By the time we were back onshore, my feet felt like blocks of ice – dry but very cold. So some more experimenting is in our future.

So yes, some challenges to overcome but these are good challenges to have and solving them expands our boundaries. The more we learn the more we can enjoy these activities. Being on our bikes in the sunshine (or even cloudy) and cool temps, enjoying the scenery is invigorating and feeds the soul. Being on the water, exploring new islands and seeing wildlife like playful otters, curious seals, and soaring eagles is worth cold feet! Today we circumnavigated Wallace Island and discovered it’s a cool place to camp, with great views and camp sites. The island has character. It was once a resort, owned by the Conover family and many of the buildings have been preserved. This was our favourite. So many craft projects of people that have visited the islands over the years.

I called this the ‘sunset bench’. It’s in a prime spot by one of the campsites to enjoy summer sunsets. We enjoyed our lunch here.

So we have made a good start at our objective of enjoying the outside with activities that we previously have not been able to do at this time of year. With some more experimenting (and probably a few more purchases of different socks, footwear), we will find the magic combination to enjoy it even more with toasty feet!

2 thoughts on “Pushing Boundaries

  1. If you’re not already on flat pedals, maybe convert to those for the winter so you can wear boots when you ride? For fat biking in the snow, I wear my hiking boots until it’s really cold, when I then switch to Columbia ‘powderhouse titanium’ boots…SO toasty warm.

    Will bar mitts/pogies work with your gearing? We bought these cheapies at Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/ROCKBROS-Handlebar-Mittens-Mountain-Commuter/dp/B07K8LKMRN/ref=asc_df_B07K8LKMRN/?tag=googleshopc0c-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=293004696205&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10087503555806287270&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9000663&hvtargid=pla-578980190378&psc=1

    Composite pedals and carbon handlebars will also help keep you warmer. We ride year-round in Ottawa…I know you’ll figure out what works where you are….with a little trial and error maybe :-).

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    1. Hi Ruth. Thanks for the ideas. My pedals are clips on one side, flat on the other. So wearing boots may be the way I have to go. I do like being clipped in but warmth is important too. I love the pogies. I would have to see if they would work but pretty sure for our temps glove combos will be fine. I have cork grips which are great. So yes you are right it will take some experimentation as we learn what conditions and temps we are dealing with.

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