Cold Weather Riding: It’s All In Your Head

In: Just Riding Along, NEWS By: Adam Newman On: November 21, 2008

cold bridgeWhen the temperature drops and daylight wanes, many riders confine themselves to an indoor trainer or hang up their bikes altogether for the winter months. True, winter riding presents unique challenges, but it also reaps great rewards. Aside from the physical benefits of riding all year long, winter riding opens up a world of opportunities for adventure, fun, and natural beauty. Over the next several weeks, the Dirt Rag staff will share some valuable tips, tricks and experiences to keep you riding this winter.In this first installment in our series on winter riding, we begin with a single step outside. The mental decision to brave the elements is often times harder than choosing the appropriate gear for your ride. When you’re warm and cozy inside your bed/house/car, the prospect of getting all geared up and facing physical discomfort in the form of cold, ice, snow, and/or rain doesn’t seem like it would be all that much fun. Indeed, often times the first 15 minutes of a winter ride are uncomfortable, but after a good warm-up the fun begins. I know this fact well, but on some foul weather mornings I still find myself rationalizing about why I’d rather drive to work or skip the trail ride and stay at home and drink coffee. The reason? Inertia or resistance to change your state of comfort. On one hand, you’re warm and dry. On the other, you choose to exchange those luxuries to be cold and wet. When I think about it, I know I will be happier if I ride no matter what the weather. But the mental and physical preparation for the ride often times seems insurmountable. Obviously they’re not, and what it comes down to is that you just have to push on through and get on your bike. Below are a few tips that make it a little easier for me to get moving during the winter months.

    1. If you know you’re riding in the morning, get up a little earlier than usual so that you can fully wake up and get your body physically and mentally prepared.
    1. Before a ride, I try and warm up a little inside before leaving the house. Not so much that I break a sweat. Something as simple as climbing up and down the steps a few times or doing a few push-ups or sit-ups to increase my heart rate is all that it takes.
    1. Get enough sleep the night before a ride. This is sound advice all year long, but it’s especially important in the low-motivation months of winter.
    1. The more you ride during the winter, the easier it is to get motivated to ride. Again, this is true all year long, but more pronounced in winter.
    1. Get your bike and gear ready to go the night before you ride. Riding in the winter takes a little more preparation, so it’s best not to leave it until the last minute. That only gives you an excuse not to ride.

Once you get outside, your comfort level on the bike is critical so that you actually stay on your bike and enjoy the ride. The right gear can make that happen. Tune in next week to learn a little about foul-weather footwear. It’s always good to keep the piggies happy.

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