Cold Weather Riding

Riding in cold weather is the best. You can push it for hours and not heat up, if you know what you’re doing. It’s a matter of priorities, feet, hands and heads first, torso next and don’t forget your boys guys. I am not talking about anything under minus twenty. If you want to check out extreme cold weather riding, check out www.cyclingintothedark.com.

This is advice for a two to four hour cold weather ride that you should be doing every second day if you have been following my blog. Too often we put off great rides because of the weather. We are brain washed to want to ride on sunny summer days and treat rainy days like they are inferior and cold winter days like an enemy we are afraid of. We have it backwards, riding in the heat of a summer day is the hardest, if you are going to ride that bike and not just be rambling around. Remember anaerobic exercise is pushing it to the level where you cannot keep a conversation going because you need the air to keep going. Work up to two twenty minutes sets of this each hour and try to get in two hours every second day. I guarantee that it will change your life.

So don’t miss winter riding, especially in the lower mainland, or lotus land, where you hardly ever have to worry about snow or ice, just lots of rain and some cold riding.

First your feet: I picked up some heavy but soft rubber booties, which pull over your riding shoe and then zip up the back. They are open under the shoe so you can still clip onto your pedals. I have had warm dry feet ever since I got them.

Next your hands: Get some good ski gloves or snow mobile gloves that are a size to big because you will need the extra size for you will be gripping the handle bars the whole ride. If they are tight just putting them on you will cut off your circulation when they tighten down even more when you grip your handle bars.

Now your head: I wear a spandex like toque under my helmet. It is light, covers the ears and keeps you warm without sweating like a wool toque.

Now the rest: First I wear a spandex (lighter though) long johns top and bottom over my chili pepper socks. Then an old larger set of riding tights this will keep your ass from freezing off and will provide a warm sanctuary for your boys. Over this I then wear a woven tights and a light long sleeve cotton shirt. Over this I wear a cycling vest so that my torso can hold my body heat. Over all of that I put on my winter cycling jacket.

I can ride in this comfortably for hours when it’s below freezing or more, perfect for those cold clear winter days. More layers can help as the temperature goes down.

If you are going to be riding up any long hills take a few extra cotton shirts to wick up any sweat. Sweating when it’s cold can be a drag when you have to go back down the other side of the hill. A few rolled up shirts in your bike bag can make a big difference when you are out for an extended ride and you are going to cover a few big hills.

The beauty of winter riding is that you burn lots of calories keeping warm while you ride and if you want to push it you can keep up a nice burn without sweating out like you would in the summer heat. Bring water because even though it’s cold you will sweat and need water and snacks will keep you pumping even longer. If it’s slippery let a few pounds out of your tires to soften them a little for a better grip.

With a little planning and a small investment in cycling gear you can ride year round, night or day, in the rain, in the heat or in the cold comfortably.

Last thing: Wash your bike regularly and it will need far less emergency repairs. When you ride in winter weather your chain picks up salt and sand and your bike will get a fine coat of this, even of a clear day. Always wash your bike after a ride and then a drop or two of oil on your chain before a quick backspin so that you spread it around the chain evenly and your bike will look and act new for years.

You will have enough excuses, if you listen to them, not to ride, when deep down you know you should. Having the gear and a working bike take away any real excuse leaving only the fake ones, like your lying cheating body.

Ride on.

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