- Get involved
“You can’t get frostbite in half an hour!”
I was biking to grad school one winter a few years ago. Sitting around with a group of cyclists in town, I started complaining about my feet getting cold. After a few minutes of discussion (better socks, keeping the upper body warm, etc.) I was asked how long my commute was. After I said “30 minutes,” the SBL’s legendary Doug Arnold ended the discussion in his booming voice: “Well, hell, Henry, you can’t get frostbite in half an hour!”
And you can’t.
I remember this comment because we face a week of lower, bracing temperatures, when some of us are likely to be less comfortable while biking. In this brisk weather, I still ride to work, because even though I may get have a little discomfort, its’ still fun to be out there. And I can’t get frostbite on a half-hour commute.
Bodily comfort is overrated in our society. It’s used to sell cars (electrically-heated seats!) and beds (“Dial in your own number!”), and of course heating and air-conditioning. You can even pre-heat a body lotion so it’s not cool when you apply it. In reality, the human body can adjust to all kinds of conditions, which you can easily see in other cultures. Long exposures can result in bodily damage, but short exposures cause some discomfort, but that’s all.
And so it was that I pedaled to work this morning, generally without any discomfort at all. Sure, I wore two layers on my arms and legs and head, and three on my trunk, but I was warm enough. My jacket is windproof but with enough zippers that I can open to prevent overheating. As usual, it took about twenty minutes for me to warm up completely, but even then, I did not have to open a zipper.
So even though it’s cold, we can still ride, if we prepare. Even if you’re uncomfortable, remember, you can’t get frostbite in a half-hour