May 5, 2002 (pre trip)

Only 13 more days until I leave and it's snowing again.

One of the great advantages to riding the trike is it's stability in poor weather. I can ride through gravel, ice, snow, slush and over the odd beer can and never worry about crashing. I flipped it once by taking a corner too tight - my shoes were cleated onto the peddles so I ended up under the trike, but didn't really hurt myself. My altitude in the trike is about 4 inches above ground level, so if I ever do wipe, I don't fall very far.

Went on a quick 2 hour trike ride today in the less than desirable conditions. Ice kept building up between the tire and the fender. I forgot my sun glasses, so blowing snow blasted my eyes the whole way. The exposed parts of my face turned red and stated to sting from the cold after 30 minutes. My fleece mitts weren't keeping my fingers from freezing. But the ice that had built up on my eye brows looked pretty cool.

Being the optimist that I am, my perspective on all this bad weather is that it allows me to thoroughly test out my cold weather gear. To solve the freezing toe issue, I purchased some neoprene cycling shoe covers and wore them today. They kept my toes cozy for the first 30 minutes, then froze shortly thereafter. I'm going to try some fleece socks next. I'm also adding a neck gator to my packing list.

All of this cold weather is also making me think about the lake swims I have planned. On day #1, the plan is to swim 10km across Whitefish lake. I checked into the lowest water temperatures suitable for open water swims and it looks like about 55 degrees is very close to the tolerable limit for an endurance swim. And that's WITH the protections of a full wet suit, neoprene cap and neoprene booties. It's also been suggested that I coat myself with Vaseline as well (now there's an attractive visual for you hey?).

After thoroughly checking the internet, I cannot find any historical record of Whitefish lake water temperatures. I found something about spring water temperatures in Flathead Lake being around 50 degrees, but Flathead is a much LARGER and deeper lake. The USGS has some real-time data on Montana river and stream flows. Most of the rivers are topping out at a steamy 7 degrees C (45 degrees F) now. But aren't rivers usually much colder than lakes? hmm...

We're talking about swimming for at least 3 hours in water that may be colder than 50 degrees F. I'm not exactly what you would call 'hearty' when it comes to cold water. I'm the guy who sits on the edge of the indoor pool and gently splashes water on his arms until he's ready to take the big plunge. Then I say "Brrrrr!" to who ever is in the lane beside me.

So I don't know.... it's possible that my 10km open water swim turns into a 3000 meter swim in the Glacier Health Club swimming pool.

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