It’s a Thursday morning and I’m just after hobbling across to the library where I’ll do a couple of hours work.
Yes. You know the way cycllists generally arent very good at anything else within a sporting context?
Well I had a brief moment when I thought I was Zinadine Zidane (in hindsight more of a Paul Mc Shane)
And went over on my ankle…
Yep, what a dumbass!
Bad news – Cant walk.
Good news- Cycling is grand.
Moving swiftly on
More often than not my blogs are based on the most recent scientific research.
However, this one is slightly different. These tips and tricks are gathered from years of suffering in the cold winter months asking myself if there’s an easier way of doing this, spending hundreds of euro on equipment and lots of trial and error. The point of this article is to save you the hassle of making the same mistakes I did.
• Hands – this is one of the areas that people struggle to keep warm during winter spins. Having tried every type of glove under the sun; from claimed wind and waterproof ones to my mother’s marigold gloves for washing the dishes. I found you have to use the rain to your advantage. For this reason, I’m a big fan of neoprene gloves. They absorb and hold water that your body then heats. In addition, they are slim fitting which allows you to easily hold your bars, use your levers and to take stuff from your pockets. They also block wind and are stretchy enough to allow another pair of gloves underneath them. However, sometimes two pairs of gloves can cut blood flow to your hands, preventing them from heating up. I’m not sure if this was just a dream or not but I do believe electrically heated gloves exist for those who really suffer with cold hands.
• Body – enough can’t be said for a good winter jacket. Today’s jackets can offer both wind and water resistant. It one of the area’s that I would definitely recommend to invest in. They may not be cheap but a good winter jacket can be the difference between enjoying a spin and hating your bike for the rest of the week. They last forever and are worth every penny. A good rain jacket that will fit in your back pocket too is essential (especially after coffee stops!)
• Feet – Like your hands I can’t see past neoprene for overshoes. It’s almost impossible to keep your feet dry so for the same reasons as the gloves I recommend neoprene overshoes. I adopt more of an old school approaches when trying to improve heat (wrap toes in tinfoil inside the shoe) and water resistance (wrap foot in cling film inside the shoe).
• Head – You know that really expensive aero helmet you invested in during the summer? That also is very useful during the winter months. These helmets usually sacrifice airflow in order to improve aerodynamics. Restricting the cold air getting to your head should keep you warm. In terms of caps, one that covers your ears and has a peak to block the rain is ideal. Just ensure fits under your helmet reasonably well, a poor fitting helmet is never a good look.
The routes you take on winter spins will differ compared to your summer spins.
In cold/freezing conditions, try stay close to the coast. If you can put up with the cool sea breeze, our friend the Gulf Stream tends to keep coastal areas slightly warmer meaning there is less chance of ice on the roads.
Avoid the hills. Higher altitudes mean colder weather. For every 100m you climb the temperature drops 1oC… Science!
Stay low and stay warm.
Remember those hedges you looked over on rest days during the summer? For those windy, rainy days those hedges are ideal for keeping you sheltered. On those really miserable days stay away from extremely open roads. The cover from the hedges might not make much of a difference but in those conditions, every little victory counts. However, as a wise man once told me “the leaves are as bad as the ice” so keep that in mind when cycling along these roads.
Finally, a coffee stop around the half way mark of a winter spin can be a lifesaver. These stops can have magical powers; they can bring you back from the dead and give you new legs. They can help you get some heat back into your bones, avoid a passing shower if you time it well and give you that caffeine kick to get you home.
The winter allows you to experiment with some new foods, obviously all in line with Barry Murray’s nutrition advice!
There is less of a need to buy premade energy bars and gels for convenience. It’s an ideal time of year to try making your own bars and drinks and experiment with different recipes to find the perfect bar or drink for you.
Not only are they cheaper but you can avoid all the preservatives and unwanted ingredients in shop bought products.
During cold winter rides, your body tends to burn more calories in order to keep warm. Keep this in mind as you may require an extra bar on top of what you already bring on a ride.
Post ride, eating hot foods and showering as soon as possible after your ride ensures you get your body temperature back to normal and avoid illness.
Take it ham and cheesy,