Cold Weather Cycling Injury
I’ve done well - it’s now 13 months since I last fell off a bike. That was when I discovered a patch of black ice and the front wheel went out from under me like a jolly fast thing on a very slippy surface.
Since then I’ve been extremely wary of ice, wet roads, patches of gravel, bits of tarmac that look funny, etc.
Yet I’ve still managed to injure myself cycling this winter. I’ve been riding my Pashley (Seigfried to you) in nice smart clothes, including nice smart work brogues. The trouble is that it’s been pretty cold. I know - cold in winter. Whatever next?
Anyway - I’ve wrapped up warm, wearing skiing gloves when it’s really cold, a scarf, hat, a jumper, and usually my moleskin suit (not made from real moles). But my feet have been in those nice smart work brogues, with nice thin smart-looking socks.
And I’ve ended up with chilblains.
“What are chilblains, apart from some sort of affliction that affected Victorian agricultural workers?”, I hear you ask.
Well, they look like this:
No - those aren’t my toes - mine look far worse, with blue / bruised looking patches of skin. It’s just an image from Wikipedia, which explains:
Chilblains are acral ulcers (that is, ulcers affecting the extremities) that occur when a predisposed individual is exposed to cold and humidity. The cold exposure damages capillary beds in the skin, which in turn can cause redness, itching, blisters, and inflammation.
Yep - that’s what I’ve got. The trouble is that because my toes are inflamed, I’ve been wearing thinner socks… which has made things worse. My toes are painful, itchy and swollen, making even walking uncomfortable.
Chilblains aren’t frost-bite, but the first stage along that route:
- Chilblains; surface ulceration of the skin
- => Frostnip; superficial freezing of the skin’s surface layers
- => Frostbite; deep freezing of the skin tissue, leading to severe damage, gangrene, amputation, etc.
As I also have Reynaud’s disease, I’m probably predisposed to these sorts of things.
I could stop cycling for a couple of months. But apart from the cold, it’s been such perfect cycling weather - clear skies, light winds, and ice-free thanks to the low humidity.
So until the weather warms up, those nice smart work brogues can stay in the shoe rack. I’m wearing my Very Sensible Safety Shoes. They’re insulated, and roomy enough to be worn with Very Sensible Skiing Socks.