1222 Well Street Fairbanks
Louis Garneau Neo Protect brand
Biking shoe booties
If you are reading this in Fairbanks, I don’t have to tell you it has been a whacky spring. As I write this it is 24 degrees outside---not exactly tulip weather. But it is bike-riding weather for those of us who signed up for races months ago with the reasonable expectation that winter would be over.
I am competing in a triathlon in Anchorage on Sunday and training for the bike portion has been tricky with the weather. Alaska has taught me that foul weather is a factor you are better off accepting and accommodating for rather than letting it thwart your plans. “This is Alaska, man, you just go,” a friend told me years ago when I was balking at starting a hike in a cold rain.
Last night, my weather-nerd husband was brimming with the news that his meteorologist buddies are forecasting a big dump of snow in Anchorage Friday or Saturday. The triathlon is on Sunday. Snow or not, it is going to be chilly.
I will start the biking portion of the race sopping wet from the pool swim. I know people in other climes hop on their bikes fresh from a swim all the time, but riding a bike wet in Alaska is like skiing in shorts. You likely won’t die, but it’s not going to feel good.
My feet have been my main concern. I frostbit my toes a year and a half ago and they have been quick to get cold ever since. My bike shoes are triathlon shoes, so they consist of a lot of mesh. They are great for letting water out and keeping your foot nice and cool---not what I am looking for right now.
So it’s Fred to the rescue---Fred Raymond of Raven Cross Country Sports. He is the sole proprietor and employee of the shop that sells all things biking in the spring and summer and all things skiing in the fall and winter. It is the ultimate Fairbanks specialty shop; it is simple and it is quality.
Determined to start training outside a couple of weeks ago, I walked out of his shop with a pair of black neoprene booties to fit over my bike shoes. You slip the water and wind-proof booties over your shoe and cinch them together with Velcro. They work like ski booties, but are tighter and more streamlined. This pair is a bargain at $20.
The first day I wore them it was 29 degrees and I was nervous. For the ride I wore a pair of chemical toe warmers attached overtop my wool socks and the neoprene booties over my bike shoes. My feet stayed warm through the ride, letting me concentrate on the curious lack of oxygen reaching my lungs as I labored up the hills. By the end, my feet were downright hot. The toe warmers were overkill.
For the rest of my training rides I have ditched the toe warmers and the booties have done the trick. I have experimented with and without them on rides and have reached the decision that if it’s below 45 degrees, I will rock those booties on race day. Donning and shedding them have become part of my triathlon training. I can get those babies on over my bike shoes in four seconds flat.
I hope I never have to use them in a race again, but am so thankful I’ve got them. When you live in Alaska, you have to be ready to deal with the weather. These little booties help. As Queen sings, “get on your bikes and ride.”