Saturday, January 8, 2022

Riding in Cold Weather

I live in Tidewater Virginia. The weather is "variable." If one is to ride 2,000 miles in a year one must ride in all kinds of weather. I find extreme summer heat to be a true threat. It can be dangerous for both horse and rider. Teenage boys whose lives revolve around video games, eating sugar, and laying around in air conditioning are particularly at risk.

Cold and wet weather is different. It does not get cold enough around here to be a significant health risk. It is primarily a matter of comfort. One can bundle up enough to make winter rides merely uncomfortable, or one can simply refrain from riding. At least that was what I thought, until I learned that there is a third option. One can become cold adapted and simply choose not to be uncomfortable in cold weather.

As it is with anything involving one's health, one should always consult a doctor before taking on significant lifestyle changes.

I am not going to go through the science of becoming cold adapted. I learned what I practice by studying Wim Hoff. I began with a brief cold shower, one leg at a time, then cold water baths, then filling the bathtub with ice packs and cold water, and finally on to a 110 gallon container that we keep outside. After working out I spend half an hour in our sauna and then anywhere from 3-10 minutes in the cold-water tank.

This practice has radically expanded the range of temperatures in which I can feel comfortable. As an experiment, I worked out in 22-degree weather with a mild wind for forty-five minutes without a shirt on and only wearing gym shorts and tennis shoes. I experienced no discomfort and never shivered. 

I did not seek to become heat and cold adapted so that riding would be easier. That is just a wonderful side benefit.

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