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!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.