Biking with Raynaud’s syndrome
May 7, 2014
I have Raynaud’s syndrome. The body’s normal cold response of reducing circulation to extremities is exaggerated in Raynaud’s sufferers, resulting in loss of blood flow and heat transfer in fingers in conditions that don’t warrant it.
Keeping your hands warm when biking can be difficult in general, but for Raynaud’s sufferers it’s much harder. I started training for the 2013 STP in February of that year and it was really rough. I had to stop all the time to try to figure out how to warm up my hands and went through many many glove strategies. Riding in the rain was especially difficult. Even with waterproof gloves my fingers would become an awesome combination of numbness and agony, leading to it being hard to use shifters and brake levers. I had some very miserable times. What finally worked was wearing mittens with HotSnapz hand warmers. I found that it was crucial to keep my fingers together to share heat. Mittens aren’t exactly safe to wear on a bike, but so are unusable fingers.
This year, I kept commuting to work by bike throughout the winter and wore lobster claw gloves. They were much better than regular gloves but not as comfortable as the mittens. However, my ride is only 2.5 miles each way these days so it wasn’t too much of a problem. I was off my bike through most of February and March so didn’t go on long rides in the coldest part of the year.
The temperatures on my rides have been in the 40s-60s so far, and my current strategy seems to be working. I’ve only had problems once, and that was during heavy rain when I hadn’t gotten my rubber gloves on.
- Take amlodipine the night before the ride.
- Warm my fingers up with mittens and handwarmers before the ride starts, and carry the mittens just in case.
- Wear rubber gloves over my gloves in case of rain.
- Carry handwarmers to warm up my hands at rest stops.
- Just plain not riding when it’s cold or rainy.
I’ll need to invest in a new strategy for next winter. First, I’ll need to replace the lobster claw gloves I lost earlier this year, probably with this waterproof model from Terry. I’m considering Bar Mitts, but I’m concerned about being able to get my hands out in time if I fall. Something I do not intend to try is battery-operated heating gloves, since what would I do if the batteries give out and I’m not able to replace them?
Raynaud’s isn’t curable, but with some planning it should be tolerable.
A tribute to Cheater Bike
April 16, 2014
I grew up riding bikes, like most American kids did back in the 70s and 80s. My first ride was a sweet Strawberry Shortcake step-through, complete with pink streamers on the handlebars. I later progressed to riding my aunt’s ten speed, then to a mountain bike in college. I loved the freedom of being on a trail on the outskirts of campus or in the woods, all on my own. But, I eventually stopped riding.
When I moved to my current home, I wanted to start riding again but was very out of shape and intimidated by the steep hills and traffic. I knew myself well enough to know that I’d give up quickly and quit.
I made one of the best decisions of my life and bought Cheater Bike.
Cheater Bike is a beautiful blue, step-through Velocity 1.5 electric-assist bike. She’s a miracle. I could actually ride up the hills and keep up well enough in traffic. I commuted to work almost every day and ran errands on the weekends. Eventually, I started trying to ride with the motor off more and did two 30-mile rides that way—no mean feat considering she’s 45 lbs!
After a year and a half, I bought a Kona Dew Plus which became my primary ride. Biking and walking had increased my fitness level a lot, and I started commuting on my new hybrid bike. At the time, this was a total of 8 miles with 800 ft of elevation gain. It was hard at first but got easier over time, and I marveled at how much I improved.
I haven’t ridden Cheater Bike since then. She sits in my garage, lonely and neglected. I put an ad on the for-sale mailing list at work and on Craigslist for 1/3 the original price(see note below), and I got no takers. I’m actually pretty sad about this. I love that bike, and as much as I would like to keep it forever and ride it occasionally, I know that someone out there would love this awesome bike and ride it all the time.
It’s actually getting a bit urgent as I just bought a fancypants new road bike, and having three bikes is getting a little ridiculous. Now that it’s spring, I’ll try to sell Cheater Bike again.
So here’s to Cheater Bike, which enabled me to regain my confidence in my biking ability. I couldn’t have done it without you.
* Someone asked me about this recently, and the truth is that I didn’t really grok at the time that my bike really was worth far less due to depreciation, and that I had probably overpaid for it. I originally bought it for $1400 (minus REI bonus reimbursement and the member sale), but it was $700 on the manufacturer’s site a few years later. $600 was too high. I didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out to me, then felt like a bit of a rube. 😉 Lesson learned: bikes depreciate like cars.