As it does every year, Christmas came and went with the blink of an eye. So much anticipation, so much prepping and then boom, it’s done. I must say that this Christmas break has been my favorite as it has been filled with watching Christmas movies, seeing friends, family and of course mountain biking.
Since the snow is here, I have mixed emotions; I love it and hate it. I love to ski but, holy cow have prices gone up and it’s just not worth it this year. So, my skis will hang for the season most likely. Anything more than a few inches makes it tough to ride my bike on trails without cursing at it along with the snow. Riding in snow makes me feel like I have no ability whatsoever. There isn’t enough snow to snowshoe so, what do I do to get some cardio?! Certainly not run on the road because, well, that just sucks, so, off to the woods I go!
I threw on my best Under Armour gear, my wool cap and laced up my Saucony Kinvara summer trail sneaks and headed out to Lackawanna State Park. Such a gem that is so close to us. I parked my PT Cruiser in the snow, sat for a few minutes, prepped my GPS, Pandora and honestly, sat and debated if I wanted to run or not. “Just go, you’ll warm up and like it. You would also like to go home and snuggle up on this cold afternoon too,” I thought.
I started running much faster than I should have, but anything to warm up in the 28 degree, raw weather. Within about 5 minutes, sweat was dripping from my cap, my hands were sweating and this turned into the best day ever. I have a lot of best day evers and it usually occurs in the woods. Suddenly, on the ground, tracks are spotted. A deer? A rabbit? Nope. A Mukluk! My run followed these fatbike tire tracks up and around the normal loop where I ran into, not literally, the Mukluker having his best day ever experience (shout out to Steve!). He couldn’t believe how great the bike rode in the snow and talked about how he wasn’t even struggling with the bike on the technical stuff. Off he went and on I went with my run and the next 10 minutes, I was wishing for a Mukluk to ride to get my fix.
All in all, my run was 3.5 miles at a decent pace in the snow. This was the run to get me going and starting to trail run again. Snowshoeing will happen as we get more snow, but a run in the woods clears my head, keeps my cardio up and works those muscles I fail to usewhile riding. With the snow having landed, people will stay inside, wish there was more to do…well, there is a lot to do. The get up and go part of it is the hardest, but when you get out, it could be the best day ever.
Well, it’s about that time of year when skiers are wishing for snow, riders are wishing for…well, it doesn’t really matter to us!! It’s really difficult when the cold weather hits and we need to remember how we dressed last year for cold weather riding. I have some temperature guidelines that I go by and they seem to hold true (50 and up, 40 to 50 and 40 and below). Every person is different with how their body reacts to the range in temperatures which makes it difficult to tell people what to wear. Of course, in cold weather, you don’t want to mess around and not have enough to keep you warm. Always think about the possibility of a mechanical that can take up to 15 minutes to fix or if it can’t get fixed, you’re walking out. Test what you’re going to wear on shorter rides and this way, when you want to go on a longer ride, you have a good idea of how to dress.
It’s a good idea to have a pair of lined pants with or without a chamois. I have 2 pair without a chamois because I use them for running also, and when I ride, I wear my normal riding shorts underneath (keeps my behind a bit warmer too). Castelli Cycling makes some great cold weather gear that really holds up. I have worn other products but the seams come out, holes wear in quicker and well, they just aren’t as great. Having a lined top is also a good idea to wear underneath a long sleeve jersey or underneath a winter riding jersey.
Hands, they will be cold at first, whether you have winter riding gloves on or not. Don’t let your chilly hands stop you from riding, the harder you work, the hotter they will get! Be careful about the way you layer gloves, if you do. Too much sweat will sit inside the glove and make your hands very cold if you have to stop on your ride at all. Usually, if it’s really cold out, 30 degrees and under, I will put my summer gloves on with my winter gloves over them. As soon as I start to feel my hands warm up, not sweat, I take the top gloves off and my hands are good to go for the rest of the ride.
FEET!! I rode for about 4 seasons with my summer riding shoes. I bought a pair of covers for the shoes which, helped me get through the ride but, they clumped up with snow, I had to fix them, it was flat-out annoying. I have a pair of Sidi winter riding boots and O.M.G. they are amazing! They are waterproof and keep my feet nice and warm. Since my feet do get chilly, I double up on my socks because my boots are about a 1/2 a size too big so, I have the extra room. Winter riding boots can be pricy but remember this, you only wear them about 3 months out of the year and if your feet are important to you, and you like to ride, they will pay for themselves because they will last a long time.
Keep your head warm, duh. I have seen people wear wool hats under their helmet, I have seen people wear liners in their helmet to keep warm too. I usually stick with my liner inside my helmet and I’ll put a very thin hat on when it’s frigid out. Again, this depends on how hot you get but remember, most of the heat in your body is lost through your head so, keep it under wraps.
I hope everyone has a great winter season of riding. Whether you are on dirt roads, the trails or even find time to get on pavement for a cold day road ride, STAY WARM!! There is nothing worse than freezing on a ride which takes away the fun of it…and remember, it’s all about fun and happiness. So, if you want to keep riding, go visit your local bike shop, support them and get some gear. Like I said, winter gear can last a long time. Take care of it and it’s only worn a few months out of the whole year so, treat yourself!
Ride on people!!! Brrrrrr….
What was I thinking??!! Signing up for the 50 miler at the Michaux Trail Cup this weekend is weighing heavily on my mind. Not only am I nervous that I am not physically ready but I am nervous about some of my gear.
At the end of last year, I told myself to save money to buy pedals, shoes, shorts and a few other miscellaneous items. Did I do that? No. Now, with a 50 mile race so early in the season and knowing my pedals are totally worn, my shoes hurt my feet, I’m a little nervous about being on the saddle for about 6 to 7 hours on Sunday.
My plan is to put yet another set of cleats on my shoes to help with me popping out of the eggbeaters (don’t go hating the eggbeaters, they have lasted me 2 years), and doubling the soul liner in my shoes. I am hoping this will help as Michaux has rocks that come out of the ground and throw punches at the racers.
My rides have been good lately; a lot of climbing and physically feeling strong. Hopefully, these nerves and doubts about my gear will turn into pure adrenaline this weekend so I can finish and possibly place. Some strong girls have signed up in my field so it will be a tough one for sure. Weather looks good, 77 and sunny so there will not (knocking on wood) be any mud!!
Good luck to all racers this weekend and to the non racers…enjoy the beautiful weather!!!
Brief, not so brief background: I was introduced to competitive mountain bike cross country racing about 5 or 6 years ago. Joined with my LBS in the Mid Atlantic Superseries and won the beginner division my first year. I moved up to sport class and had a few good years racing sport. I have raced cross country and have dabbled in the endurance division, which I seem to enjoy more. This year, I bite the bullet and go expert.
As this season is quickly approaching, I am ahead of the game with staying somewhat in shape. It is hard to not be lazy on cold, cloudy days but once out on my bike or pounding the pavement in my sneakers for a run, that laziness thought is far out of my mind. I joined a new team this year (shout out to Trestle Bridge Racing) along with my partner in crime, Corinne.
The racers in the female expert division are no joke. These girls not only race in this series but also travel all over the country and the world to race at expert/pro levels. This blog is to track my want/need to do well and have my name or skills be mentioned in some other beginner blogger down the road as a “no joke” racer.
Along with training and progress, I will also be talking and asking you all about nutrition as that is also important to me during the season. I hope for everyone’s support and encouragement this year. So far I know I have one, my husband, Jack. He is my best friend, my mechanic, my love and will be mentioned here once in a while as my pain in the butt.