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When Does Spring Start???
By Staff
Date: 1/20/2004
When Does Spring Start???

By Ryan Barrett

2 bibs
2 leg warmers
1 undershirt
2 long sleeve jerseys
1 insulated jacket
1 windbreaker
1 pair of socks
2 pairs of sock booties
1 pair neoprene booties
1 pair thin gloves
1 pair thick (think boxing) glovesÖ

...and Iím still freezing. Iíve just returned from a three hour ride, and my fingers arenít quite up to the task of typing yet. Despite growing up and going to school in colder climes such as Virginia and Indiana, the past three years in the Great State of Southern California have left me pretty soft when it comes to riding in the cold, so I am being forced to relearn all about riding in the cold now that I have moved to Provo, Utah.

I knew it was a bad sign when my fingers were cold CLIMBING the mountain. And as I suspected, the descent was not any warmer. In any case, I have made it home, bike encrusted in road salt, and now as I begin to thaw, my fingers will undoubtedly swell up like little Vienna sausages, making typing increasingly difficult. Still, for you dear reader, I present this story.

I met up with the local chain gang around 10:00 a.m. at Racerís Cycle Service in downtown Provo, Utah. Yes, Provo has a downtown. Ten hardy souls headed out into the cold morning air with the plan of heading up to the top a local canyon, and back, with the idea that we could bust out of the fog which has engulfed the valley for a week or so by going up the mountain. I should mention that although ten hardy souls left, I never saw two of the hardy souls after exiting the building. Iím pretty sure these hardy souls saw the bank sign next door flash 21 degrees (-6 C) and headed to the coffee shop. Yes, Provo has coffee.

We headed up Provo Canyon, until we reached the start of South Fork Canyon and started the climb, which ends at a Girl Scout camp. Inspired by the thought that there could be Girl Scout Cookies at the top, we rode fairly hard despite the large snow piles on either side of the road, and the occasional ice patch. The group split into several pieces, so at the top, we regrouped and looked for cookies, to no avail. I also took advantage of this stop to complain about how cold my hands were, at which point I noticed that many of the crew had taken their gloves off on the way up the hill or at the top. Hardy souls, I tell ya.

After warming my hands under my jersey, we took off down the hill, and at the start of the South Fork, I turned around and went back up the hill again, in case I had somehow missed the cookies. Again, there were no cookies, no Girl Scouts, not much of anything at the top. So, after re-warming my hands, I began the long descent back into town, and finally, the warmth of home.

A few things Iíve learned about riding in Utah:

  • Wetsuit gloves donít work on the bike.
  • If you start licking your lips for a taste of road salt, itís probably time to go home.
  • If you put both your hands inside your jersey to try to warm them, watch out for ice.
  • Do not assume every town will have a coffee shop.
  • Do not try to use a Mormon church as a landmark.

Ryan Barrett is a USA Cycling Certified Coach with over twenty years experience racing road, track, mountain, and BMX. He has raced with the Schroeder Iron and NetZero Professional teams, as well as the US National Team. Contact him at

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