It seems the warmer days of summer are gone! Just this past weekend Colorado cyclists along the Front Range were greeted with cold and chilly temperatures. Those caught off guard by the swift change in winter conditions suffered mightily during their weekend rides. Now the week has progressed and we are over three days in to rain, cold, and light snow. Many cyclists are wondering how to salvage their fall training plans and make the most of this cold and wet fall weather. Generally, it requires a shift in focus from longer rides to perhaps shorter, more intense rides.
When faced with poor weather, the primary “go to” option for cyclists is the trainer. Granted, most cyclist have a love / hate relationship with the trainer. As a training aid, cyclist love it because it offers training options during poor weather and winter months. Yet, on the flip side, trainer rides can be boring, lead to muscle- specific fatigue, and basically, offer uninspired riding. Usually, most cyclist aren’t getting on the trainer this time of year. With hesitation, many are asking, “Is there a way to make it work?” Yes! It’s important to have the right trainer setup. When we’re talking about setup, sure, we mean having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, and indoor riding clothes. If you are using a basic trainer, you may also want a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor. You might not think all of these cycling accessories add up to a great trainer workout, but if you’re looking to exchange a longer, more intense ride with a shorter one because of weather related restrictions, then yes, having the right bike parts helps support motivation and training consistency. Our post, Making the Most of Winter with Trainers, Rollers, and Indoor Riding offers more detail strategies for making the most of indoor riding.
While the trainer is definitely a training option, you don’t want to miss riding outdoors all together. So, it’s important to dial in your cycling apparel for the type of riding you will be doing. Specifically, when you are riding, you want to balance your warmth and comfort with the intensity of your bike ride. If you are really bundled up when you start riding, you will likely want to start shedding layers. It may feel good to sweat in 25 degree weather, but you want clothes that are both breathable, wind-stopping, and sometimes waterproof. You also want to evaluate the type of ride you are doing? Is this a training ride? Will you be working really hard? Or are you just going to work? With all that in mind, get clear on the type of cycling apparel you have in your existing wardrobe and identify the clothing you need purchase to enable you to ride in a variety of weather conditions. Fall cycling apparel usually includes the following:
Rain jacket – Cycling rain jackets are optimized to be fully waterproof and breathable while allowing for a range of movement, and they often have subtle (or unsubtle) reflective accents. The thing to be mindful of when choosing one is the hood. If you ride in a helmet, is the hood big enough to fit over it? If not, opt for a head cap. A cycling cap, worn underneath your helmet, will help keep the rain from running into your eyes while you ride, and help shield your face from the rain.
Shoe covers or waterproof shoes – Shoe covers, also known as booties, cover the exterior of your shoes and protect from wet, cold, and wind. There are several options: some that cover just the toes and others that encompass the entire foot. Sometimes, even shoe covers aren’t enough protection. Waterproof cycling shoes and boots can be a very smart investment, especially if you’re determined to ride in the rain frequently.
Gloves – Perched out on your handlebars your hands face the brunt of the weather. As your hands become numb from the constant rain, their temperature quickly cools, and before too long you can have some very frozen fingers to deal with. Frozen fingers aren’t much good at changing gear, braking or clinging to the handlebars, and they’re extremely uncomfortable. Opt for full finger / windproof gloves and waterproof gloves.
Lights – Even if it’s daylight out, you should ride with lights—for the same reason cars turn their lights on in the rain. The sky is darker, rain can obscure your outline, and drivers are already distracted. Using lights will make you more visible, and help you stay safe.
Maintenance – Experiencing mechanical difficulties in wet conditions is not fun! A well maintained bike is a fun bike to ride – even in the rain. While bike maintenance can be a chore, having the right set of bike components and bicycle tools can make all the difference. Good reminders for riding in wet conditions is to wipe down and inspect the frame. Then, follow that up by applying lube your chain and pivot points.
Rest assured, the rain and cooler temps won’t be around for long. While the days of summer have ended, no doubt we will experience warmer and dryer days before winter sets in. In the meantime, have a strategy to approach the transitional weather conditions that supports your training schedule and stock up on your cold weather cycling apparel. Fortunately, at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we can help you with all of your cycling apparel needs! In fact, we’ve got quite a lot of new cycling clothing in store right now. Visit us at BikeParts.com, follow us on Twitter, and keep in touch on Facebook.