Five Tips to Keep You Riding This Winter
Don't let Old Man Winter hold you back from all the joy that can be had on Rockland's roads during the colder months! Winter bike rides can be some of the best riding you'll do all year. The air is fresh and crisp; the roads can be quiet and safe. Best of all, you will come home with a feeling of fulfillment, accomplishment, and a reduced level of stress. Here are five tips to keep you on the road enjoying your favorite pastime and logging some quality miles.
Layer Up – Riding in winter is all about temperature control; dressing in layers is the key to keeping your core comfortable. You can add/subtract clothing to meet the ever-changing temperatures.
For the coldest days (25-35 degrees), I wear a base layer, a long sleeve thermal jersey, and a riding jacket. (I've been known to wear two pairs of tights.) Gloves and booties are a must! If you dislike cold feet as much as I do, I suggest wearing two pair of socks - and even add a warmer between them. Headgear is vital! A baklava or fleece hat under your helmet is a sure way to keep your head warm! Regulating your head heat is a great way to warm up/cool down in the winter or any time of year. After a few rides you'll know how best to dress for a specific temperature range.
Bring Clothing Accessories – I recommend bringing a heavy and a light hat/headgear along so you can adjust as the temperature changes. An extra set of gloves are also nice to have should you sweat through one set. Many riders go out cold and use their riding to generate heat to warm-up. Sometimes I keep a light vest folded in a jersey pocket when the temperature gets to the 40s. A vest or second hat comes is handy if I misjudge the weather or the sun goes in.
Winter is for Base Miles – Don't try and over-do it! Winter riding is typically used to build your base or keep you fit, so ride accordingly. Keep a steady pace at about 50%-70% effort level while staying on familiar roads.Remember, winter riding isn't about over-extending yourself, it's about enjoying the experience. As you build confidence in your winter skills, you can extend your rides.
Mind the Mechanicals - Make sure your tool kit and saddlebag are properly stocked. Check your tire pressure before you go and make sure your spare tubes, CO2 canisters and/or mini-pump all work as needed. Don't forget the cell phone and to tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return. Better yet – ride with a friend!
Keep it Clean and Lubed – Winter roads mean dirty roads, dirty bikes and dirty drivetrains. It can help to add fenders or rain guards, but no matter your accessories, wipe down your bike after each use. Use warm water and a drop of liquid soap. Pay attention to the bottom bracket, undersides of tubes, braking surfaces and rims. If you should get water in your seat-tube, mark your saddle height with a piece of tape, remove it and drain the water. You can lightly grease the seatpost and reinsert to the tape mark – this will keep corrosion out and the seatpost moving freely when necessary. Most importantly, make sure you keep the drivetrain lubed and clean it regularly for better performance and longer life.
Winter riding can be even more fun than riding in the summer because when you're finished, you'll have a jump on your fitness, and you'll have seen the clear beauty that is Rockland in the winter. There's a lot to discover out there on the road, but perhaps the biggest discovery will come when you realize that it's not as hard as you think to keep riding in the winter.