Spring is right around the corner, and with multiple feet of snow being dumped all over, it’s time to buckle down and do the training. If you want to be fast, there's no more off days just because the weather isn’t ideal.
We might make the best bicycle travel case, but YOU still have to do the riding!
We spent our formative years living in Vermont and training through the winter. Known for brutally cold, gray winters, we once experienced an entire month below 10 degrees fahrenheit. Needless to say combining this with our racing careers has lead to extensive knowledge on how to ride in any conditions. This week check out Part 1 of our cold weather cycling tips and tricks. Scroll down for the lowdown on some of the lesser known tips and tricks learned from our years racing bikes professionally. Next week we'll cover some of our favorite cold weather cycling gear in Part 2.
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80 Miles Below Freezing
Pro Cold Weather Cycling Tips and Tricks
1. Two Pairs of gloves.
An ice climbing trick (and probably the only way to survive ice climbing without getting frostbite) is to bring 2-3 pairs of gloves with you. A light set makes it nice to do intervals and have that solid grip with the bars that some heavier gloves leave to be desired. Once the intervals or group riding has chilled out you can throw on a heavier set to get you home. Ideally you can stuff the gloves you’re not using under your armpits to keep them warm.
2. Vapor barrier liners.
A trick from the extreme ends of climbing, and backpacking. A vapor barrier is an impermeable, non-breathable layer that essentially creates a microclimate inside of it. Once you start to sweat, and heat up said sweat, your body tones it down, and uses that thin layer as insulation. The trick is dressing just warm enough for the vapor barrier to work. The plus side is that you can stay warm in extreme cold with very thin layers on, the downside is once you stop moving and the layer of sweaty air cools, you will too! The best example of this is using latex gloves under a thin set of riding gloves. Or using plastic bags over your socks and under your shoes. In extreme conditions or rapidly deteriorating conditions one can use plastic bags on the head, and torso to make it back in one piece.
3. Warm beverages.
Having a warm drink to sip on makes it more enjoyable riding, especially staying hydrated as cold weather dampens the desire to drink. Keeping any combination of tea, drink mix, coffee in your bottles can make the difference! Skratch Labs makes a hot Apple and Cinnamon drink mix, although tea and honey is a tried and true mixture as well.
For extra sloppy conditions a thin coating of Pam cooking spray on your drivetrain can keep the mud and grit off.
5. Lower your tire pressure.
Back in the day everyone seemed to run 120 PSI all the time, and I never quite understood why. I’ve been racing criteriums on 95 PSI for quite some time. The increased grip that it provides makes cornering and stopping much easier, and can even be faster. In sloppy conditions running 80 PSI can give you that extra grip you need to survive that iced over turn. An added bonus is that at even lower pressure you can get the same intensity at lower speeds, resulting in less wind chill!
"...make sure to not over apply embrocation, or else it will feel like your legs are re-entering the atmosphere..."
There are plenty of good embrocations out there. Just make sure to not over apply the first time around, or else it will feel like your legs are re-entering the atmosphere the rest of the day. Embro will help on those wet days where any clothing you wear becomes waterlogged. In a pinch homemade embro can be made using vaseline/oil and cayenne pepper.
Applying a thin layer of vaseline or other similar oily tincture on your face can take the bite off of freezing wind. If you’ve ever experienced air so cold that your tears freeze and your nostrils stick together with each breathe you’ll know how much this can help.
We hope these tips and tricks help you make it through the rest of winter. Stay tuned next week to see a roundup of some of our favorite cold weather cycling gear. If you want to start traveling with you bicycle more be sure to check out our Airport Ninja bicycle travel case. It's the only case that can be built under the 62 linear inch airline limit, and is also available in sizes to fit everything from an XS to an XXL.