As the weather begins to change, bringing the cold and wet, I can help but feel sorry for everyone who turns to the gym, indoor rollers, or even the couch… Yikes.
“It’s too cold, it’s too wet, it takes too much time to prepare”
“Phooey” I say.
The feeling of the brisk air hitting your lungs, struggling a bit more to pedal uphill through moist DG that’s akin to wet concrete, and of course the thrill of the trail being unpredictable one day to the next. You never really have a grasp on how quickly your tires will betray you until you’re fully weighted on the inside bar, leaning deep into the corner, and hit the slick spot where the water settled in.
In all seriousness though, I love riding in the winter. Bragging rights are especially nice, but it is a really good feeling to get out and brave the elements on two wheels. Not to mention that getting muddy brings back the memories of being a rotten little kid riding my bike through every mud puddle; except now I have to do my own laundry, and I say “Sorry Mom” for back when I left my clothes in a muddy heap for her.
The experience is almost surreal, and also my favorite “reward” for winter riding, when I pedal up into the snow, and discover untouched powdery goodness that no one else has braved pedalling through. Granted, it’s typically an all out sufferfest of cold, wet, and trying to keep my bike upright once I point it downhill, but it’s worth the experience. And the bragging rights/useless internet points that come with it all when I post a neat picture and a strava result and all my friends on the couch are like “Dang, he’s so cool”.
I will say a small bit of preparation goes a long way. I recently picked up a pair of NorthWave Celsius shoes/boots from Unreal for the cold conditions. Gore-Tex lined, come up above the ankle, and actually waterproof. If your feet are getting cold on a ride, you’re gonna have a bad time, and these definitely keep cold wet feet from ruining the ride. Couple those with a nice water and windproof pant, some decent gloves, and a breathable jacket, and you’re pretty much set. Conditions requiring gear beyond that typically end up being too much of a risk in terms of weather and safety, but your mileage may vary.
Besides proper gear, the common sense to know when the elements are just too bad (I believe Peter quoted it best on a day that was pouring rain and we cancelled a ride; “A Santa Cruz canoe would be more suitable”) will ensure that your winter riding experience doesn’t suck… too much. So next time you think it’s too cold, too wet, or it takes too long to prepare; Suck it up and get some winter riding in. You probably won’t hate it…