Not purely by temperature - I've ridden in -30ËšC weather and not been cold. This was +2ËšC, and I was definitely the coldest I've ever been in my entire life.
A friend and I went for a ride out to Big Hill Springs and back. He's training for an Iron Man, and I'm training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. We figured it'd be a good chance to put some km on the legs for an actual ride. The forecasts were saying likely snow overnight, so we thought we'd go for an afternoon ride. We made our way out from Calgary to Big Hill Springs - a good ride, with lots of hills. The headwinds were steady and strong - around 10-20km/h, so it was a good workout. And, we figured, the tailwind on the way back home would be a blast. Note the conditions in the photo. Doesn't look bad, does it? Downright springish, even.
Then, the weather changed. The skies instantly darkened. The winds shifted, so we would be facing brutal headwinds for most of the ride home as well. The wind also picked up speed - steady 30-50km/h, gusting much higher. We tried to race the clouds back to Calgary. They caught us. The snow started falling very lightly. Not a big deal. I've ridden in snow before. Then, it started coming down more heavily. Squalls of whiteout conditions. High wind gusts driving the snow into us as we rode. Headwinds, crosswinds strong enough to nearly blow us off the road. Snow piling up on us as we rode. Not fun.
We wound up becoming nearly hypothermic as we approached the city. Then Kevin got a flat tire. We had to stop for a few minutes so he could change to a spare tube and reinflate. The snow started getting heavier. Cold. Wet. Sticky. Our feet were soaked. Our hands were numb. He was worried about frostbite (having only fingerless riding gloves - I'd brought my slightly warmer gloves that covered fingertips, but that wasn't much help). I pulled a tuque out of my pack, and put on an extra jacket shell. He checked his phone. His fiancee had been trying to get in touch - worried about the sudden change in weather. We decided to abort the ride, and she piled our kids into the car to come pick us up.
We made our way back to the city, hoping to flag her down when we saw her. We both started shivering uncontrollably. Not a fun ride at all. My glasses were so packed with snow that I couldn't see anything, aside from the sliver of unfocused whiteness squinting at me above my glasses.
When we met up with our rescue ride, I was shivering so uncontrollably that my handlebars were rocking back and forth as I rode. We ditched the bikes and dove into the car to warm up. Soooo cold. After a few minutes, we could start feeling our fingers again. The shivering slowed. We hid our bikes behind a gas station and drove back to the city - we'd have to come back for the bikes after dropping off the kids.
Spring biking in Calgary. Never, ever listen to the forecasts. Always, always pack extra gear in a panier - not just an extra shell. Rain pants. Extra gloves. Tuque. Extra tubes and a pump or CO2 canister. And a cell phone. We made it back, and it was a pretty good ride (up until the point where it got hypothermic...). But it could have easily been much, much worse if we were even less prepared than we were.
Started: 2010-04-24 12:58:13 PM
Ride Time: 2:27:27
Stopped Time: 22:10
Distance: 52.01 km
Average: 21.16 km/hr
Fastest Speed: 56.04 km/hr
Climb: 518 meters