Here are some tips to get you off the trainer and outside before your riding buddies
Riding in early Spring takes a certain level of dedication. It’s cold, windy and the roads are still grimy from a long winter battered by snow and ice. But I’d take a dirty bike over another indoor training session any day. When we can smell the cycling season around the corner all we want to do is be out feeling sun no matter how cold the conditions are. Here are some hints and tips to get out before your riding buddies this year.
Choosing a route is the most important step to riding early in cycling the season. The Spring has different qualities to look for when picking where you are going to ride. The shoulders are filled with snow so make sure your routes features roads with large shoulders to account for the extra room that the snow takes up. Make sure not to rely on bike paths as well, often times bike paths are used for snow storage during the winter so don’t be surprised if your usual bike path is out of use till at least late April. Another important thing to consider when choosing your route is traffic. People aren’t used to seeing cyclist at this time of the year so make sure that whatever route you choose stay away from high traffic areas. With the lanes narrowed and drivers who haven't seen a cyclist since October it is most imperative to stay away from cars until we can get used to each other again.
Picking your time is as important as picking your route. Mornings can be particularly cold so try to get out in the afternoon when it is warmest. Around 2-5 are the best times to get out while the sun is at its warmest. You’ll avoid the harsh morning cold, the wind has usually died down around then as well so you’ll have all the ingredients to a successful ride.
Ice can end your cycling season before it starts if you are not careful. Black ice is the number one suspect in crashes that occur in the early season. Even if it is sunny black ice will can still occur and take you out. Watch out while riding under bridges or even just riding through patches covered by shade. When cornering try to take the straightest line as possible, March is not the time to be pushing your luck into corners so keep it slow.
An early season ride is only as good as how you are dressed. The most important feature in cold weather cycling gear is a solid wind barrier. The wind chill can be harsh when you get out between the fields so making sure you have a good wind jacket is the most important thing to have. Layering that with a thick undershirt that can wick sweat if you want to push the pace. Winter tights are a great idea as well, they are made to break the cold and keep you warm all ride. Shoe covers insulate your cycling shoes since they are designed to keep you cool in the summer the insulation in your regular cycling shoe is pretty bad. Shoe covers will keep your feet warm and dry but also keep your shoes looking fresh for longer. Gloves that allow you to shift well but also keep your hands warm are a must have. There are endless possibilities of cold weather gear for the full array of conditions. Come and see us and we’d be able to help you out picking gear that is right for the conditions that you are going to be riding.
Then the most important step in the early season riding process is taking care of your bike. The salt, sand and rocks that they spread on the roads all winter long are your bikes worst enemy so it is important to take care of your bike when you are done. Give it a little wash to keep the salt from corroding your parts especially in your drivetrain area and bearing like your headset, bottom bracket and hubs. Salt likes to work its way into your bearings and slow you down. With a little soap, water and some chain lube you’ll be ready for your next ride. Investing in some fenders takes the washing to a minimum, no matter what bike you have there are clip on fenders that keep you are your ride protected from whatever the road has to throw at you.
Don't let the cold stop you from getting out this season. Come into the shop and get everything you need to get out before your riding buddies this season!