Dark clouds carrying rain or snow can ruin a sunny winter day in a hurry. And if you're out on your bike, things could get ugly quick.
But cycling during the winter doesn't have to be all doom and gloom.
With a little preparation, it's possible to spin through winter without any trouble. By planning your route and making good decisions before you head out, you can have just as much fun and be just as safe cycling as you are during the summer months.
Use these five tips to plan a worry-free winter training ride.
Pick a Simple Route
Choose routes that are close to home and familiar to you during the winter months. Since the weather can change quickly, riding a short loop multiple times is a good option. This way you can cut your ride short if it's too cold or starts to snow, and you'll never be too far from home.
Pick a familiar route that you've ridden multiple times. When it's cold out, you don't want any surprises. New routes can serve up unexpected terrain, detours and routes that are more difficult than planned, which could mean spending more time out in the conditions than you've prepared for.
Make the Workout Manageable
Winter rides don't need to be too long. Your primary goals during the cold months of the year should be maintaining fitness and building a solid aerobic base.
Three or four rides a week during the winter should be plenty. During the other days of the week, concentrate on cross-training and strength training to build aerobic and muscular fitness.
If you plan to do one long ride per week of 3 to 4 hours, remember that it doesn't have to all be outside. Ride for an hour or two outside and jump on the indoor trainer for another workout when you get home.
Be Prepared If You Ride Alone
A training partner can be a good way to stay motivated to ride when the weather isn't so pleasant. A partner will hold you accountable and make the miles go by quicker. He or she can also lend a helping hand if something happens on the road.