Colder Older Ironman Training


Hi folks,

Winter gear for road biking

I tried to find a picture of Rory riding in inclement conditions, but I couldn't find one (at home in the warm, I suspect!). I had to use this nice drawing instead: From:

The other day I had arranged a ride with my biking partner, Rory, but the weather was really cold, not much above freezing. This kind of weather didn’t bother me in the ‘old days,’ but as I age I find it harder and harder to deal with the cold, especially on the bike. In part, this is due to my having Raynaud’s syndrome, which can induce intense pain in my fingers in cold weather, but this is not what really stops me. When I was in my late fifties, long cold winter rides (80+miles) were exhilarating. The same ride today leaves me feeling frozen and drained, even though my clothing provides better thermal insulation, I’m generally fitter, and I use warmers in my gloves and shoes.

picture of people road biking in the snow

Road biking in the snow, which is not for amateurs, by the way! From:

There is plenty of good advice out there for keeping warm on the bike, like this blog post at RoadBikeRider (RBR). I told Rory it was too cold for me, and he sent back his usual response (which reminds me of Mr. Myagi), “There is no bad weather, only bad gear.” I remember riding with Rory a few years ago in the Virginia Mountains, and it started to snow. I kept going, whilst Rory turned back (bad gear?); I am glad he did, because he came back in the car and pulled my sorry frozen ass off of that mountain in the pitch dark when there was only a one foot wide, snow-free channel in the center of a steep down hill. I don’t think I’m a wimp any more now than then, I just feel the cold more than I did when I was as young as Rory is today.

I looked into the question of cold sensitivity on the web, and found an irritating answer from some young whippersnapper, on WikiAnswer:

They [older people] will not generate a lot of heat just sitting around on their butts, walking at 1.5 MPH or sleeping. I do not think you will see a lot of old people sweating from over exercise.

Then I moved on to a more reliable source of information at PubMed, where I found the following statement in an interesting research article:

During the constant temperature session, the elderly [67-73 years of age] preferred a higher temperature in comparison with the young adults.”

The only problem with this research was the fact that the investigators consider young people of 67 to 73 years of age to be elderly. Hell, earlier this year at the Eagleman Half Ironman race in Maryland, I was passed during the run by an 81-year old guy who could run most young people into the ground.

I don’t know about everyone else, including Rory in his super cold-weather gear, but I certainly find winter weather much more challenging than I did, and I suspect that it has an underlying metabolic mechanism combined with decreased body fat. OR it’s my skinny old brain wimping out (I think I hear Rory saying, “Yep, that’s the reason, old fart”).

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Snivelling…

  2. You are? Hope we get to ride this week. -k

  3. No real need for debate here. This thesis can be proven. Just leave dissidents to age. They end feeling the chill. Q.E.D!

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.