piątek, 9 lutego 2018

Winter cycling survival guide

Every cyclist sooner or later asks this question. 
How to maintain and keep your cycling fitness during the winter? Fitness which was built over the summer and occupied with sweat, pain and long days on saddle. 
It's everybody's dream to start a cycling season with top shape.

This article will take you through a complete guide, however first I must warn you dear reader:
- if you're type of cyclist who rides with cycling computer and plans, measures and analyzes the effort, watts,  strength etc. - don't even try to read that!
- if you're amateur using cycling computer, however don't spend nights on analysis - read that at your own responsibility
- if you're like me, no computer, no plans to be on the podium one day - go ahead and enjoy the reading!

 I might disappoint you right a way but...

I have no clue how to maintain your fitness during the winter :)

 I don't have any cycling computer as I believe I don't need any. It's not to promote any kind of hippies cycling or what's so ever. I just believe that it takes a hell lot of time to plan your whole year with personal or virtual trainer. I know that I'll never be a pro rider. For me it's just enough if during the summer I will do Alpenbrevet or Tour the Mont Blanc... so instead of reading my watts I prefer to ride and enjoy the Swiss Alps.

So what about winter?

 Some say that during the winter you should ride on flat and build your base. Don't know if it's true or not but what I can tell you is that as soon there is no snow/ice on the road I hit the mountains.

 Climbing and descending in the winter is a bit specific. During the climb you get usually hot and during descending you freeze to death. 
The key is to dress properly. Take couple of layers on you so when you climb up you can take off your jacket and put it into your pocket. When you descend you put it back on.

A good cap, gloves and overshoes are the key. 

You loose your body temperature mainly through your head so make sure you cover it well. Soft shell is your way to go. It will breath when your head is hot and will stop the wind when you gain some speed.

Gloves are very important. When it's below 0 and you descend over 50km/h your hands and fingers will get cold... very cold. It's quite dangerous when you loose feeling in your fingers as during switch backs you won't even know if you press the brakes or not.

Feet are the smallest problem but I must say it's not a nice feeling when you don't feel your fingers. Use over shoes and good quality socks.

Besides that cycling in winter is really great. Views are fantastic! Mountains covered with snow, a bit of sun.... I really recommend you to try it.

Now, I know that not everybody lives in the mountains. Usually it's quite difficult to find a motivation and leave warm home and go out on the saddle. For me, the motivation are the mountains. The views, descending, switch backs are charging my batteries like nothing else. 
If you live rather on flat, find your own motivation. It could be something new for your bike, cycling clothes or ride in the group. Find it and use it!

 Proper clothes, warm tea in your bottle will allow you to make larger distances than you think.

So the conclusion is: ride as much as you can and the results will come. No matter if you ride flat or mountains, just ride.

And last but not least - your wheels. Winter means salt and salt is not good for nipples. No matter if you have cheap or expensive wheels, brass or alu nipples clean the nipples after every ride with some soapy water. When they will dry wipe them with cloth and a bit of WD40. That will prevent corrosion and seizing.
Last thing you want to see on your wheels is this:

Seized nipples are dangerous as they can fall apart causing your spokes to break or in the best case scenario you won't be able to true your wheels anymore.

Remember, take care about your wheels and they will always bring you safe back home.


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