February 14, 2007

The Mind Chill Factor

"Somewhere out there is a nice, sunny place
with warm breezes and shady palms
where all the second place guys train."

It was 48 degrees this morning with a Mind Chill Factor of 36 degrees. Needless to say, I bundled up in all my winter riding gear. Dry-fit shirt, armies, long-sleeve riding jersey, winter tights, wool socks... you know the drill.

Of course the one thing you probably don't know is what a Mind Chill Factor is. Let me explain... Basically, it's just like a Wind Chill Factor but without the wind. Oh, and the difference in temperature is all in your mind. That's why it's called a Mind Chill Factor.

You see, those of us who live out here in Paradise are used to warm sunny days. Take today, for instance. The forecast called for rain showers. In fact, the last four days were supposed to be filled with these so-called rain showers. As I look outside all I see is a clear blue sky - the same blue sky that I've seen for the last four days. There's not a single cloud in sight. And the temperature? Why its a sweltering 72 degrees. This is what we in Southern California like to call a "normal winter day."

However, this is the entertainment capital of the world so, like good entertainment capitalists, we watch a lot of TV. While watching the boob-tube we see many pictures of random places with all of the snow piled high and people bundled up in thick funny-looking coats. We listen to fat, jolly guys on morning talk shows tell us about six degree temperatures in this town and minus fourteen degree temperatures in that town.

And as we listen to it all, us Paradise-livers, we think its all made-up. As if its another reality show gone-bad. Because, after all, its seventy frickin degrees outside and I feel like turning on the damn air conditioning.

But then every once in awhile we get hit with a cold day. Right smack in the middle of our shorts-wearing winters, we'll get slammed with a thirty degree morning or popped with a random snowfall in Malibu. And the fact that we're so used to endlessly warm sunshiney days, the cold ones are even harder to deal with. It warps our minds.

So after all the TV watching and newspaper reading about schools being closed and cars sliding off the road and people freezing their petunias off, we half expect it to happen to us. In fact, we so much half-expect it that when the temperature drops even a degree below the mildness we consider "normal," our minds tell us that the Ice Age has cometh.

When you experience two months of seeing 55 degree mornings, the 48 degree awakening is a chill-fest. It actually makes you feel as if it is freezing. It's the Mind Chill Factor. And, you see, the longer the warm spell has been, the greater the Mind Chill Factor on those randomly cold days. Dare I say but a 48 degree day with a 36 degree Mind Chill is colder than a morning when you are actually used to it being 36 degrees.

I got an e-mail from my sister last night. She lives in upstate New York and had recently finished a bike ride in their 25 degree weather. She seemed happy in the e-mail, though she was talking about how she spent the rest of the evening defrosting her fingers. That e-mail was on my mind when I woke up this morning and Catherine told me it was 48 degrees.

48 degrees?! I exclaimed in horror all the while having visions of frostbite and desperately trying to remember some of those survival tips from Man vs Wild.

I took out every single piece of warm riding clothes that I owned and layered them on. Wool socks? Better put those on too...(not realizing until later that they were my hiking socks, not riding socks). As I started to roll my bike outside, somewhat resembling the sorry-looking child in A Christmas Story, I saw a lone toe warmer on the floor.

Catherine, the wonderful girlfriend she is, had bought me these toe warmers last Christmas to make sure my little feet were all warm and snuggly on these frigid morning rides. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I lost one. But with a Mind Chill Factor of 36, one warm foot was better than no foots at all. So I strapped that darn thing onto my right cycling shoe and wobbled out the door.

You probably think I started sweating immediately. You'd be wrong. As it turns out, I wasn't overdressed in the slightest. I was comfortable my entire ride. You know why? Because it's all in the mind. Sure it was 48 degrees outside, but in my mind, it was freezing.

Now excuse me, I need to get a hot cup of nonfat, no sugar cocoa and cuddle up around the electric fireplace.


pb said...

You lucky man! Her in Belgium it's just the opposite; they sometimes say it's going to be sunny but in the end it just rains... as usual.

Maybe I should come up with a Wetness Factor to describe my training sessions. Yeah, that would be a good post :-) Cheers J. !

matthew said...

Here in Montreal, we're in the middle of a snow storm that's going to dump 30cm (11.81") and it's -14 Celcius (6.8 Fahrenheit).

I ran an outdoor 10k race last Sunday and it was -12C (10.4F).

I'm afraid your cold days sound like shorts temp to me.

"davfid" said...

Isn't Southern California Great? However, I am traveling for business this week and stuck in Michigan treadmill training since it is 5 degrees and snowing outside. Heading home tomorrow (weather permitting).

laura said...

48 degrees would be nice! Try this routine for 25 degree temperature: insulated windproof cycling pants, liner socks, wool socks, polypro base layer shirt, winter cycling jersey, windproof fleeced jacket, balaclava, liner gloves, thick fleece mittens on top, heated insoles, bike shoes with toe covers, cell phone, glasses or bike goggles- then waddle over to your bike and go. Oh, gatoride is better than water because water freezes quickly.
This is called a warped idea of a good time!
- Laura (your sister)

Wylee said...

Gosh, I almost felt sympathy for my poor weather-challenged Southern Cal brethren.
This is the 1st time I've visited your blog, love your sense of humor, the caffeine post, priceless.

TriJack said...

i like the mcf - i think if it's below 55, my mcf jumps straight to 0... yes, i'm spoiled too...