Lessons learned from my 72 miles in 40 degree weather on Saturday:
1. The rules of hydration aren't suspended during the winter. I didn't hydrate properly on the ride, and I suffered. My excuse is that I was using a new water bottle, and the water had a plastic taste to it. A poor excuse, but my own. I should have filled and refilled and refilled my remaining water bottle. Not drinking like a camel during lunch was yet another error.
2. I didn't eat properly. I ate two and a half Cliff bars, and one Cliff Shot Block - one square, not a package - during the ride, and a bacon cheeseburger at the midpoint of the ride. I started the morning with a serving of oatmeal, spiked with protein powder, and yogurt. According to the rule of thumb I've learned, I should have consumed about 2000 calories on the ride, and I wasn't close. I was close to bonking on the final miles, and in fact walked part of two hills I'd normally pedal up. Dehydration didn't help matters.
3. I wasn't dressed for conditions. It was damp out, with a slight breeze. I was riding through forested areas on the Schuylkill River Trail. I wore only a compression shirt and a long sleeved jersey, covered by a shell that was too small for me, so I couldn't zip it and ride at the same time. A good-fitting jacket and perhaps another layer would have helped. My shorts and leg warmers kept my lower half a bit more warm than my top half, but tights over my shorts would have been a better choice. Insulated gloves would have been nice. And I envied my riding partner's balaclava. Shoe covers helped keep my feet warm, and wearing them was perhaps the only thing I did right.
4. I underestimated how soon it gets dark. We ended the ride about ten after five and it was so dark we couldn't read our bike computers. I'll bring lights next time I decide I need to go downtown.
5. When you are exhausted from riding in 40 degree weather on limited fuel and water, even a horrible Lindsay Lohan movie like Herbie: Fully Loaded seems entertaining and thought-provoking. At least it does if you are so drained you cannot even lift your hand to reach the remote.