When the weather outside is frightful, but the thought of resorting to the indoor trainer – again – feels anything but delightful, sometimes you just have to suck it up and ride outside.
Before hitting the brisk roads, Jonathan Cane, exercise physiologist and founder of City Coach Multisport in New York City, says to do these five things first.
1. Get heavy
“When riding in fair weather and when racing, lightening up your bike and maximizing performance is key,” says Cane. In the winter, though? Look to do the opposite.
“Keeping the rubber on the road is most important,” says Cane. “Sturdy and reliable gear is at a premium, so ditch those slick, lightweight tires and tubes in favor of something sturdier.”
Don’t worry about the extra grams or added rolling resistance.“At least you won’t have to change a flat with frozen fingers,” says Cane.
And definitely ditch the high profile aero wheels that are likely to get blown around.
2. Layer up
Instead of choosing a big, bulky jacket – warm as it may seem – opt instead for layers that’ll keep you cozy and insulated.
“Layers are key since they’ll help keep you warm by trapping warm air between the layers,” says Cane. Consider an outer garment that can be zipped down as you warm up, or a versatile balaclava that can be configured in multiple ways depending on how much coverage the conditions dictate. “Booties and gloves help with your extremities, and are as important as anything else you’ll wear,” says Cane. And in extreme conditions, consider chemical hot packs inside your shoes or gloves.
3. Grab a newspaper
Not to read during your mid-ride muffin break, but to help keep you warm. “Newspaper is a great insulator,” says Cane. “That’s why you see riders throw some inside their jerseys before big descents, when you learn firsthand about the wind-chill factor.” Then throw it in your pocket for slower sections of the ride.
4. Reconsider your nutrition and hydration methods
In the warmer months, you may be fine with a bottle of water and a few homemade granola bars. But when the temperatures drop, those bars can freeze – and so might your bottle of water, leaving you insatiably thirsty during a tough climb. Gels are unlikely to freeze, so opt for a gel packet instead of a bar, which can harden in the cold. “Some stainless steel thermoses fit in a standard bottle cage,” says Cane. “Fill it with warm water before your ride and it shouldn’t freeze the way a normal bottle would.” Or keep your bottle in a pocket close to your skin to help keep it from freezing.
5. Give your bike some extra love
It’s probably your most prized and valued possession, so treat it with extra TLC during the winter. “Remember that your bike doesn’t love the winter either,” says Cane. “Wipe down the frame, rims, and drivetrain after messy rides.” You wouldn’t let salt, slush, or snow linger on your body, so don’t let it linger on your bike, either.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.