I’m no mind reader, but I know what you’re thinking. “Gosh, he’s a little early with this snowy doom and gloom, isn’t he?” Looking outside, that may well be the case, but taking a look at the calendar, I couldn’t help but notice that the end of October is upon us, and the uncertainty of November is indeed about to usher us into much shorter days and colder temperatures.
We’ve arrived at that time of year when most recreational cyclists have noticed the increasing nakedness of the trees on their lawns and diminishing color in their gardens and have set about putting their outdoor spaces to bed. Bicycles are given one last wipe down, tires are inflated as a precaution, and the machines are retired to the vinyl covered storage hooks from whence they came. Winter training might look like this:
That’s all well and good. There are days when I wouldn’t mind cocooning in front of that flat screen either. There are, however, alternatives to hiding away with remote in hand and Doritos on lap.
Here at the shop, we’ve noticed that many recreational cyclists are looking to keep moving throughout the winter months. They’ve seen the gains in physical conditioning that a summer of cycling has brought about and aren’t too keen to have it all taken away through idleness. Apart from traditional activities such as snowshoeing or cross country skiing, there are a few other ways to keep active during the colder months ahead.
We could make an addition to that cozy room above by way of a stationary trainer. You’ve no doubt seen these or know someone who uses one. For the uninitiated, these indoor training stands are designed to make use of your bicycle as an exercise machine. There are several types available, the most common being either magnetic, fluid, or centrifugal in nature. They are relatively affordable when compared to the price of a purpose built exercise bike and the nicest feature of all is that using one actually FEELS like riding a bicycle because you ARE riding a bicycle. They are also portable and can be folded up and easily stored away if limitation of space is an issue.
Many of the more experienced cyclists actually enjoy riding outside in the colder temperatures and refuse to see snow as a deterrent. There are several ways to safely ride during the winter months. One time honored method is to build what is commonly known as a beater bike. An old mountain bike is absolutely ideal for this purpose. Adding a pair of fenders makes riding in wetter conditions quite comfortable. The key to winter riding is to be sure to install a good head and tail light as well as the consideration of extra reflectors and reflective decals.Many older vintage road bikes can be fitted with modern cyclocross tires, which have a more aggressive tread to make them more suitable for snowy conditions. Incidentally, these bikes are perfect for use on an indoor trainer.
Finally, we have a newer way to conquer colder weather riding. Fat tired bikes made an appearance quite some time ago but have become more readily available over the past few years. These year round mountain bikes have large tires that roll over and through any terrain regardless of the weather. The benefits of using a fatbike are many, the main one being increased safety due to a significantly greater amount of traction and control. The ability to easily ride off trail adds to the adventure. Tires are available in three, four and five inch widths to suit varying grip requirements, commonly referred to as “float”. Once considered to be fairly expensive, the price of a decent fatbike has become quite affordable.
As the calendar edges ever closer to the end of the year and the chilly days ahead, the general consensus may very well be that the cycling season is over. While Doritos and a television remote may be an attractive reward for a season well done, the best course of action may just be to keep calm and cycle on.