Dropping temps and snow don’t need to keep you off the bike this winter. In fact, these darker months offer a serene experience not afforded by the busier seasons, one which many riders cherish. This 3-part series will help you embrace winter riding by addressing some important approaches to staying active through the “off season,” including general expectations, preparing your body and maintaining your ebike.
As mentioned, the solitary roads and empty bike paths can be a haven from stuffy offices and full houses. Embracing the challenges of winter riding is a rewarding experience, keeping riders mentally alert, physically active and emotionally refreshed. However, caution is also necessary, in choosing safe routes, avoiding icy ground, wearing adequate riding gear and informing family of your outings.
We’ll begin with what you should expect. Think of going out for an adventure rather than going for a joy ride. Eventually, they will be joy rides, but here are a few points to make the mental leap into winter riding.
- Embrace the pain. Cold weather riding hurts at first, but as you warm up, and with the right equipment, it’s quite comfortable.
- Enjoy the process. It will take several rides to figure out your riding needs and habits, learning from each ride what you need to better enjoy your time on the road.
- Zone 2. Rides will go much slower and it might not feel like you’re working hard enough. However, Zone 2 riding (riding at the point when conversations become a little difficult to maintain) trains your body to primarily burn fat and develops slow twitch muscle fibers, amongst other health benefits. For more information, Google search the benefits of cold weather workouts.
- Where to? Your routes will most likely include more neighborhood streets and “less strenuous” roads than one might use for spring and summer riding. This will take some initial exploring and planning, so enjoy these trial-and-error outings, knowing they're a stepping stone to longer rides.
- Your BFF. Ask your local bike shop about best practices, group rides and best local routes. These ladies and gents are your best resource for all things bike. And they love beer, if you're so inclined to bring them a treat.
- Clean Machine. Be ready to factor in a few minutes of clean up after wet rides. Ice, mud and road salts are no friend of your ebike and must be removed for longevity's sake.
Next up, we’ll explore ways to keep your body in good spirits through the winter riding season.