I get asked quite frequently how late into the season I ride. This time of year, people see me with a bike on my car, and they say, “getting one last ride in this season?” My answer is always the same, and unequivocal: I ride all year long.
Riding all year is easy and fun if you have the right equipment. I have a great selection of Gore kit that I use to stay warm, dry and motivated all season. If you don’t have a great selection of winter kit, or if you’re looking to learn more about year-round riding, check out the Winter Clinic at North Central Cyclery. If you’re a Facebooker, check out the event here.
Gear aside for a minute (shudder the thought!), I do make some changes for my rides. I ride the trainer some mornings when I’m too depressed by the thought of going outside. For example, on Monday when the temps were forecast to be 38 (and were actually 30), I rode the trainer, and watched a WWII Submarine movie on Youtube. (Run Silent, Run Deep). Making yourself suffer on a trainer whilst watching Clark Gable is a unique experience.
I back off of the 5-6 rides a week regimen and start incorporating other forms of exercise (second shudder in one post). Tuesdays and Fridays, I do a kinda crazy workout with a bunch of other cyclists, involving flexibility, core work, and functional strength. It’s kind of like Cross-Fit, without the focus on dying.
I’m also planning on taking the intensity down a bit. Last winter, I rode super hard all winter, and felt great in the spring, but was losing power by early Summer. This year, I’m still planning on challenging myself, and I’m planning on working on intervals more…but I’m going to also reduce the frequency of hard rides, and plan more time for recovery. I’m also planning on taking a slightly easier approach to group rides, and working on riding within my abilities instead of always fixating on killing myself. We’ll see how that works…it requires the cooperation of the other group riders, as well.
What kind of bikes do you ride in the winter? All of them.
When roads are clear, we typically do a Saturday morning road ride. Unless there’s a ton of ice, we do a Wednesday night gravel ride on gravel/cross bikes (I ride the Moots). When there’s snow, I ride a fatbike (come on Carbon Beargrease!!). When I’m riding solo in the morning, I find myself sticking more to gravel and singletrack/forest preserve, trying to avoid paved roads in winter’s early morning darkness. But there’s still a ton of riding to be done.
I have Reynauds’ Syndrome, which means that I lose circulation to my fingers and toes when it’s cold out. That’s super unpleasant…but I’ve learned to combat it by wearing appropriate gear. Having gloves that keep my hands both warm and dry is critical. The Gore Lobster Gloves that were released last year have been a huge boon to my winter riding. When it gets cold and I’m riding road/gravel, I wear my Shimano MW81s. When it gets really cold, I rock the 45NRTH Wolvhammers.
This post is kind of a brief ramble, but the point is simple: even though it’s getting cold and intemperate out, you can still ride. You should still ride. It’s more fun than you’d think…and it improves your attitude.
Oh, and come out to the winter clinic. It’s a blast.