Coaches corner - Cold weather riding
We know the drill - the nights get longer, temperatures drop and before we know it - its winter! Riding can be an exercise in not turning into a Jack Frost snowflake!
But as a friend of mine used to say - 'There is no bad weather - only bad clothes'.
There are plenty of advantages to riding and training in the winter - trails and paths are often quiet and the cold weather can be exhilarating!
What do you need to do to have a safe and fun experience cycling through the winter months?
Make sure that you are visible on your bike - especially if the days are dreary with little sunlight. Lights on the front and back of your bike are essential, and make sure your bike is well maintained, and your tire pressures are right - changing a flat on a cold day is no fun!
Start off a little cold - within about 10 minutes you will warmup well, and overheating can make you sweat more and be uncomfortable. It pays to experiment a little!
Layering - layering achieves 2 things - first, it traps warm air between layers and keeps you warmer. And second - its easy to peel off layers (or put them back on.
Wear a light weight - polyester or wool - wicking layer next to the skin - a base layer - this keeps your skin and clothes dry avoiding heat loss through sweat evaporation.
A long sleeved jersey is a great addition to keep you warm! And add an outer layer that is made of thermal wicking material that can hold heat in, while keeping cold air out. For colder days - add a thermal vest to keep the core extra warm - it will act as a good wind barrier.
A cycling gaiter or a balaclava will also keep you warm around the neck!
30 percent of the body's heat is lost through the head - ear bands or ear warmers are a good addition, along with a lightweight skull cap; some people wear a bandana to cover the neck and head!
Body heat is also lost through the feet - use a heavier winter cycling sock that wicks moisture and retains heat (synthetic fabrics are a good choice here). And cycling booties that go over the shoes are great to help keep the feet warm (for warmer days - wear toe covers)
Hands can get very cold in winter months - long fingered gloves are a good investment.
Coaches tip: Some riders will use surgical gloves over their cycling gloves for a little while on the ride to prevent freezing fingers - these can be removed easily once you are warm.
Coaches tip: When it is really cold, adding air activated handwarmers or foot warmers can be a god-send on chilly days. Open the packaging a few minutes before the ride and then slip them in your gloves or between shoe covers and shoes.
Keep your knees covered for days that are below 50 degrees. Keeping them warm will help keep them lubricated and functioning. Cycling leg warmer work well here, and for colder temperature - full cycling tights or thermal bibs are a good choice.
Arm warmers are great for keeping your arms warm, and for warmer days you can peel them off if you get too warm.
Don’t forget to keep drinking - it seems less intuitive on cold days to drink water and electrolytes, but we still sweat and dehydration will make your ride miserable!
As we said - there is really no bad weather! Don’t let that be an obstacle to coming out and enjoying the Gravel pre-rides in February! Even better - join the Rocket Revolution team here: www.rocket-revolution/team to ride with friends - we will have differently paced groups and some clinics for those newer to riding too!