8 Tips to Survive Winter Cycling

Plan Your Route in Advance

There can always be debris on the road, bike path and shoulder; however this is more common during winter months. Determine your route in advance and make sure it is relatively clear of debris and safe for cycling.

In addition, shorten your route during the winter. Otherwise, you may run out of energy or just get too cold and find yourself far from home. Identify a circuit near your residence that allows you to cut the ride short if necessary.

Pay Attention to the Wind

Whenever possible, try to do the first half of your ride into a headwind and return with a tailwind. This allows you to tackle a headwind when you are fresh and gain the benefit of a tailwind on your way home.

This is even more important during winter because it allows you to avoid an icy wind during the second half of your ride when you are sweaty and tired.

More: Cycling in the Wind: Beginner Basics

Ride With Friends

Misery loves company. OK, winter riding doesn't have to be miserable but there are tremendous benefits to riding in a group. It can be a more enjoyable experience, you can take turns shielding each other from a biting wind and sharing conversation makes the time go by faster. It's also safer and more convenient if someone has a mechanical problem.

Take Care of Your Bike

Winter riding can wreak havoc on your bicycle so pay attention to its care and upkeep. Make sure you clean the bike, chain, gears, brakes and wheel rims on a regular basis. That means after every ride in wet conditions. It also means lubing the chain and gears on a more frequent basis. You may want to get a tune-up at your local bike shop at the beginning and end of winter to make sure it is in good repair.

More: A Yearly Bike Maintenance Checklist

Do Some Riding on an Indoor Trainer

It can get too cold and miserable to ride outdoors. This is particularly true if you are a competitive cyclist. You are not going to get a very effective workout riding in really cold, windy, icy or wet conditions. Riding an indoor trainer provides a safer riding environment and allows you to achieve the same training effect in less time. It's convenient for most cyclists and is very effective for high-intensity workouts.

You can still ride outdoors but using a trainer allows you to be more selective about when you will expose yourself to the elements. It also provides you with a change of pace. Use your outdoor rides for low-to-moderate intensity efforts and the trainer for more intense sessions.

More: How to Choose an Indoor Bike Trainer

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About the Author

Tyrone A. Holmes, Ed.D, CPT, is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and a Level 2 cycling coach through USA Cycling. He provides Cycle-Max Coaching for cyclists and multisport athletes who want to improve their performance on the bike and Healthy Life Coaching for individuals who want to lose weight and develop healthier lifestyles. His latest book is Developing Training Plans for Cyclists and Triathletes. Visit his website at www.holmesfitness.com and his Fitness Corner blog at www.doctorholmes.wordpress.com.

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