Feed your Body
No matter how appropriately you dress, your body is still going to have to work harder than usual to maintain its core temperature. This means greater energy expenditure to perform the same amount of work. This increased energy expenditure means you're going to bonk sooner than you would in warmer conditions if you don't take in adequate calories. Make sure you're taking in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour for any ride over one hour.
It's also common for athletes to think that drinking fluids isn't as important as at other times of the year. However, if you're dressed appropriately, you're probably sweating nearly as much as you did last summer. Be sure to maintain adequate hydration while on the bike: one to two bottles per hour is a good place to start.
Weatherproof Your Bike
Winter doesn't just bring cold weather; it also brings also sloppy conditions. This means that your trusty ride is going to take a bit of a beating from snow, ice, salt and sand. Corroded chains and cables are very common and can lead to poor shifting and braking. Check them often and replace as needed.
Fenders will also help direct water and corrosive materials away from your bike. A regular bike-washing session can keep things running smoothly, possibly saving you money if you don't have to replace your drivetrain. Save your skinny, lightweight tires for the spring; invest in a heavy duty set of tires that will outlast winter road conditions.
When the roads are snow- or ice-covered, a mountain or cyclocross bike may give you a little more stability than your road bike. If conditions are particularly nasty, studded tires (from companies such as Schwalbe and Nokian) can give you the traction you need.
Along with adverse weather conditions, winter also means less daylight. A set of lights for both the front and rear of your bike can help you extend your available riding time and keep you safer.
Finally, as always, be a defensive rider in traffic. Drivers may not be expecting to see a cyclist on the road in the winter, and road conditions can affect their control as much as yours.
Riding in adverse conditions can be a fun way to avoid the monotony of indoor training and will often leave you feeling stronger and tougher than if you did a similar workout inside. So dress appropriately, take care of your body and equipment and help maintain your sanity this winter by riding outdoors as often as you can.Search for a cycling event
Nick White is a triathlete and senior coach for Carmichael Training Systems, Inc. (CTS). To find out what CTS can do for you, visit www.trainright.com.