BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, January 27, 2022
by Ken Gooderham
Cold enough for you?
I know… some of you are nodding your heads while others are rolling your eyes. “Cold?” you’re thinking. “This isn’t cold, it’s merely brisk at best.”
Sorry, but for those of us built to survive Southwest Florida’s summers, this is cold.
The last two weeks of January are typically this region’s best chance for chill, as cold fronts of sufficient number and intensity can make it far enough south to send shivers through even the subtropics. It’s also the time of year when snowbirds are most likely to check out the temps back home and chortle to themselves about the wise choices they made in heading southward for the season.
Some think the chill is right for riding and running, finally make movement possible without creating puddles of perspiration. Others aver that anything below 60 degrees is grounds for breaking out the winter wear.
It’s the same divergence of degrees that gives us the iconic image of a vacationer relaxing on the January beach in shorts and flip flops next to the full-timer bundled up in sweats and jackets.
Whichever your temperature preference, cooler temperatures may mandate a few chances in your running or riding preparations, recognizing that being out in the wind – especially riding or running into it – makes it seem even cooler than it actually is.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to take a few simple steps to make the chilliness more manageable.
The most critical step is to dress for heat-management success, finding that balance between shivers and sweating to keep you more comfortable when riding or running.
The key is layers and the right materials. Layers so you can add or subtract as necessary to keep your body temperature in the comfort zone, and materials to help manage the heat your body generates against the cold of the outside air.
The fabric closest to your skin should be able to wick away perspiration – so, not cotton, but perhaps wool or the right synthetics. Next is a layer that will hold body heat without creating a sauna-like effect. Top it off with a more wind-resistant layer, but with a little venting if possible.
This is also a good time to dig out the long sleeves and long pants if possible, covering exposed skin as much as you can without impeding your ability to pedal or perambulate. Layering will also allow you to better adjust your temperatures based on effort, exposure and exertion… losing heat in the sun, keeping it in the wind and shade.
Don’t forget your head, hands and feet when you bike, of course. Having something on your head makes a huge difference in keeping warm, so find something thin that will hold heat and fit under your helmet (because you’re wearing a helmet, right?). Long-fingered bike gloves are a smart investment for winter riding, as well as being more protective if you’re hitting the trails (whatever the season). Your regular foot attire should be sufficient when it’s cooler, unless you get caught in the rain.
For runners, the same advice holds: Your head loses heat, so cover up; your extremities can feel colder if your body is working to keep the core warm, so gloves and another layer of socks might make a difference.
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you don’t want bright, highly visible colors in your wardrobe. But it may also be a good time to mix in some darker shades that absorb more of the sun’s energy (assuming it’s out), to take advantage of the free solar energy.
If you’re a casual runner or rider, dig through your closest and drawers to put together a cool-weather outfit. If you’re more committed (or more likely to run or ride whatever the weather), investing in attire that’s specifically designed to let you laugh at the thermometer (at both extremes) is money well spent.
The other elements of keeping the cold at bay is when and where you ride or run. If you have the choice, wait until later in the day when temperatures are at their peak. Also, pay attention to wind direction – typically northwest to northeast after a cold front – and look for routes that might offer some shelter (in terms of trees and buildings) or variety (in terms of having to run or ride into the winds for long stretches).
Hydration is still important even if it’s cooler, but instead of cold water think about packing some warmer beverages (assuming you can keep them hot)… or plan on enjoying something warm once you get back home.
And it’s always a good rule of thumb that you should start your run or ride feeling a little chilly (rather than toasty from the start), since you’ll warm up fast once you start moving more.
It won’t stay cold long (thankfully) so “enjoy” it while you can. Soon enough, the thermometer will return to more moderate levels… the ones we all came (or are) here to enjoy.
FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):
- SYAL Run for the Youth 5K, Saturday, Jan. 29 (postponed from Jan. 8), downtown Fort Myers.
- Strides for Education 5K, 7:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, Florida Southwest State College, Fort Myers.
- Edison Festival of Light Junior Fun Run (distance varies by age), noon, Sunday, Feb. 13, downtown Fort Myers.
- Edison Festival of Light 5K, Saturday, Feb. 19, 5:45 p.m., downtown Fort Myers.
- Hooters River Roots & Ruts 10 Mile Trail Run, Sunday, March 6, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva.
- Scope for Hope 5K & 2 Mile Walk, Saturday, March 26, Jaycee Park, Cape Coral.
GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):
- Run for the Paws 5K (dogs welcomed), Saturday, Jan. 29, Civil Air Patrol, Naples.
- Picayune 10 Miler, Saturday, Feb. 12, Sabal Palm Hiking Trail, Naples.
- Naples Golden Eagle 5K, Saturday, Feb. 19, Lowdermilk Park, Naples
ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):
- Venice Half Marathon & 5K, Saturday, Feb. 19, 6:30 a.m., Maxine Barritt Park, Venice.
- Fort Myers City of Palms Half Marathon & 5K, Saturday March 5, 6:30 a.m., FGCU campus.
- Punta Gorda Half Marathon & 5K, Saturday, March 12, 6:30 a.m., Lashley Park.
- Paradise Coast Half Marathon, Sunday, April 24, North Collier Regional Park, Naples.
- Publix Run To The Arts 5K Fun Run, Walk, Roll, or Stroll, Sunday, Feb. 6, 8 a.m., downtown Fort Myers (runsignup.com)
- I Love The 80s 5K, Sunday, Feb. 6, North Collier Regional Park (active.com).
- Yo! Taco Shrimp 5K Run, Saturday, March 12, presented by Cypress Lake Athletics, Doc Fords, Fort Myers Beach (active.com).
- 70s Disco 5K, Saturday, March 5, North Collier Regional Park, Naples (active.com).
- Average Joe 5K Run (you finish in the middle of the pack to win it), Sunday, April 10, North Collier Regional Park, Naples (active.com).
- Royal Palm Challenge, Saturday, March 12, from the Collaboratory, downtown Fort Myers. Registration and more information coming soon.
- Broken 100 ride, Sunday, March 27, from Winn Dixie at Colonial Blvd. and Treeline Ave., Fort Myers.
The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar (caloosariders.org) for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.
SW Florida Critical Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides. Check out their line-up online (www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/) for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).
- SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers.
- Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Saturday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
- NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
- Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
- Saturday Morning
Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd.,
Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6
miles, includes group ride instruction.
- St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg) has been rescheduled again, now to May 1, 2022, Olympic and sprint (https://satriathlon.com/).
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDEHave a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.