A Winter Ride; How to Make it Happen, and Enjoy It
It’s 11 degrees, I’m out…Not to work, not to the store, not to the gym. Can you guess where I’m heading? A bike ride of course. Why, you ask? Because, quite honestly, I can’t think of a more invigorating, fun-filled, “let’s get this party started” and heart pumping way to start my day.
But it’s too cold, you say. I couldn’t agree more!! Too freakin cold for my preference, but, and here’s the big BUTT (actually trying to keep from getting a big butt is half my drive here)…There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it, nada, zero, zilch. So, it’s time to embrace the cold and go with it. Here’s how it’s done, my way anyway…
First off, I have to point out, I am the world’s biggest wuss when it comes to being cold. I HATE it!! Our thermostat is set to 70 in the winter because 69 is just too cold. If I can handle exercising in the cold, you can too. Here are some pointers I am willing to roll out (get it?) to help you get started…
Find a friend, whether it be riding/running/fishing or playing hop scotch, it’s always 10x better when you do it with a friend.
Second, come up with a outdoor workout schedule that is feasible for you.
Third, stick to it, period.
There are things that come up such as getting 2 feet of snow, having a kid home sick with explosive diarrhea, or having to groom Fido (joke, btw). Beyond this kind of stuff, all the rest are just excuses. Don’t let that crazy little mind of yours talk you out of a winter ride. It can be quite conniving at times, even believable, but don’t let it fool you. (Side note: It just took me over 10 minutes of starring at the word “full” and realizing it was not right but not being able to figure out how to spell the correct kind of “fool” I was getting at, ugh!). Definitely better at riding a bicycle than writing, bare with me.
What’s the best way to dress you ask? Starting with the feet…I usually wear thin wool socks, nothing too crazy, leaving some room in there for heat to build up, and some winter riding boots. I always hated booties over my riding shoes, thats just me, they frustrated the heck out of me trying to put them on, by the time I got out the door, I was so pissed off and sweaty from trying to stretch them suckers on AND zip them up, it never made for a good ride. So…get a pair of winter riding boots, they are worth every penny. I use the Specialized Defroster Trail Shoe, but there are others out there as well. These work great though, amazing in fact.
Next I wear a pair of padded liners and over that, some bib tights with a windstopper front. Perfecto!! On my top, I wear a long sleeve base layer and my Royal Racing Alpine Storm Jacket. On my head, a skull cap, and depending on how cold it is, I sometimes wear either a full balaclava, replacing the skull cap, or a neck warmer that I can pull up as needed. Next, I throw on my bright orange Smith helmet (but any lid will do), and to start my rides, I usually wear the hood on my jacket over the helmet (yes, it was designed to go over top, and I love this feature of the jacket). Usually about 1/2 way into my ride, I pull back the hood. And lastly, my fingers are about the only body part I occasionally have problems keeping warm, so I have wool glove liners and Gore windstopper gloves. That’s it. I pretty much wear the same thing every single time I ride in the winter. If its warmer out, I may wear a lighter jacket, because trust me, you do warm up quick.
Do you care what I stash in my pockets? Probably not, but I’m gonna share this info with you anyway. I always carry my phone, always carry a pair of hand warmers (the kind you break open and they heat up) just in case something gets cold on my body and I can’t stand it, and lastly, some sort of energy gel. And that’s it. Oh, and a water bottle of course. Which, I have to be honest, sometimes in the winter, I do forget to drink. But I do carry it, just in case.
Now you know how I get myself motivated and all suited up. What are the rides like? Most of our “winter” rides are NOT about miles and/or speed. What, you say? Is it even worth riding if you are not clocking the mileage and trying to beat your own time? Why yes, it is. Its about “getting out”, building base and clocking time on your bike.
What’s fun, sometimes fast, always exhilarating, and better than any medicine? You are correct…A Winter Ride. No gym memberships for me, the woods are free and always calling…