I’ve had people tell me more than once just how dangerous it is to bicycle when it’s cold outside. They mean well but they don’t really know. I mean, none of them have actually tried it so how could they?
Maybe I’m just lucky, but it has never been dangerous for me. I think a big part of the reason why is preparation. I don’t just glance at the weather forecast before heading out. I study it and then I determine what to wear, what bicycle to ride, even what direction to head out first. It would be foolish not to.
This past Saturday presented a unique challenge. The wind was coming out of the south but sometime during my ride it was forecast to shift to the northwest. A northwest wind is problematic in this part of Iowa in February as it tends to create really cold wind chills. Although Saturday wasn’t especially cold, it was tricky since there was also snow in the forecast. I decided to trust the meteorologists and head out to the west instead of the south as I normally would. Better to have the wind mostly at my back on the way in.
I got lucky. The wind shifted about ten miles into my ride just like they said it would. I had guessed correctly and so in spite of an inch of fresh snow I was cozy and comfy. What could have been miserable turned out to be a lot of fun.
I’ve always been a planner and it has served me well. Planning doesn’t guarantee that everything will always go well, but it certainly shifts the odds in my favor. When the margin between success and failure is razor thin, the little things (like planning) often make the difference between a win and a loss.
I know plenty of people who don’t plan at all. I know even more who seem to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to planning. In both cases, bad luck seems to follow them around. This is true in cycling, but it’s also true in other areas of life…such as how they go about finding or filling a job.
I sort of understand. We live in an age of instant gratification and planning is hard, often thankless, work. Cycling is also work, but we do it anyway because cycling is also joy. We look forward to the work because we love the result.
Planning should be like that, too, because when you plan you invite serendipity into your life and serendipity is magic. It’s well worth the effort. If you want luck on your side, give it a nudge. Plan. It doesn’t have to be difficult or drudgery. If you’re looking for a job or trying to find someone for a hard to fill position and need help planning to succeed, let me know.