There is no doubt that winter is here in the Northeast. In NJ, we recently had 14 consecutive days where the temps did not break 32 degrees F. Rough.
But riding through the winter doesn't need to be miserable! By putting in time over the winter, you can set yourself up for a really great season. I switched to riding year 'round when I upgrade to Expert (Cat 1) on the mountain bike race course, knowing it would be the only way I could be competitive. It was a learning process with some uncomfortable rides, but I adapted quickly and never would have though I would be venturing out in single digits some twenty years late.
Here's an article post on the TrainingPeaks Blog that gives some great tips:
8 Tips for Better Winter Riding
Tip number one, dress properly, is so important. With this said, an initial investment in good quality winter clothing will pay off in huge dividends. I remember my first pair of booties lasted almost 8 years, and my heave gloves were awesome for many seasons, with lobsters to back me up on the super cold days. I'm also a huge fan of layers, with an easy zip on the outer layer for temperature control.
Staying warm is obviously the goal. On the coldest days, I'll do a short trainer ride inside to get completely warmed up, then towel off if necessary and get immediately into my winter clothing, all staged and ready to go. Then right out the door and into my ride. I find it cuts down, if not eliminates, that often painful first 15-20 minutes.
Although the weathermen often get the forecast less than perfect, the current wind speed and direction is usually dead on. Take a quick look at this and plan your ride accordingly. You'll thank yourself, and so will your riding partners. But beware.: if you look at the weather on your phone or computer, don't get sucked into social media or e-mails.
And yes, having a planned group ride or even a riding partner is great. I always say, riding partners makes it just that much warmer.
Trainer Session Info
If you're local, come down to our trainer sessions for a great workout and an additional meaningful two hours of riding during the week. Combine that with some off the bike training and solid weekend rides, and you'll be styling when the warm weather rolls around.
Until then, stay warm and ride on!
Much like any profession that is a combination of science and art, cycling training principles and philosophies are constantly evolving and revolving. One component of winter training that has stood the test of time fairly well was long, steady, low intensity rides. Did this survive because so many of us absolutely enjoy riding our bikes that it was a great excuse to go out for 3-6 hours on a freezing cold day? Perhaps. But it also seems to really work. One of the questions that does arise is do amateur athletes have enough time to put together a true base building period?
Recently, more and more research is coming out downplaying the idea of low intensity during the winter and instead incorporating more and more shorter, high intensity workouts. Much like above, is this a push out of convenience for an aging demographic with more responsibilities and less time to train? Maybe.
And then there's the idea of mixing it together. I came across this article in Velonews which cites several studies and gives a bit of a different view on base training while still hitting the long rides.
Six ways to make your base training better
by Trevor Connor
Not sure how this all fits in with your cycling goals, training schedule, and life? Give me a shout and I can work with you to create a training program for your best season ever!
Happy New Year!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.