This is the first in a series of guest blog posts about the health benefits of cycling. Guest contributor Bobby Bailey, Director Sportif of The Dealer.com Cycling Team and Head Coach at 1K2GO SPORTS, will provide advice, tips, and more in this regular series. For beginners and lifelong cyclists alike!
When winter overstays its welcome, cyclists in Vermont tend to push the limits of exercise in the cold. “Spring” can be a mixed bag of weather forcing a rider’s preparation to be top-notch. With the wind chill, the effect of cold on the body may be exacerbated. Preparing for your ride may include a lengthy checklist to ensure a safe, healthy – and enjoyable – cold weather outing.
Don’t head outside before you check these to dos off your list:
1. Gear up. Heading out on the road exposes you to rough terrain, slick pavement, and bike part-eating salt. If you have been sitting on the indoor trainer all winter, you should make sure that your bike is in proper working order. Local bike shops are transitioning over to summer and can ensure that you are ready to venture out safely. Other items worth checking include tires, chains, cables, and every single bolt on the bike. Confirm that you are equipped with spare inner tubes and a multi-tool just in case you experience a mechanical failure. It is also a good practice to carry a cell phone and personal medical information if you need help along the way. Making your home screen on a smartphone a picture of any allergy information and a personal contact is a smart move.
2. Suit up. The extreme conditions we face may be managed with the right choice of clothing. I have started many rides in the sun, only to be faced with snow while miles away from home. Layering is still the best practice. Modern cycling gear is both warm and breathable and can block the wind while rolling at 20 miles per hour. It actually makes you crave bad weather! Your choice of jacket should be storable in a pocket just in case you are too warm, as sweat may make you cold if the weather changes. Castelli Cycling has a new line called “GABBA” and it is the lightest, least bulky, and warmest jacket on the market. Multi-layered gloves and fancy new heated glove liners can keep your hands happy, while booties that fit over your shoes do the same for toes.
3. Fuel up. If you have been exercising indoors all winter, those first few outdoor rides are going to shock the system. Riding outside uses more muscle groups and stresses the body in ways in which you may not have prepared. Make sure you account for this. You need to have the energy to make it back home. Pack food and water to keep your energy stores up. You won’t feel the sweat but your body will dehydrate just the same as in summer due to respiration and perspiration. Starting your ride with a hot liquid in your water bottle is a trick the pros use to add some comfort to cold days. The Dealer.com racers love making homemade rice cakes to fuel their rides. When you spend up to five hours a day on a bike, a little bacon, rice and eggs packed into a bar can put a small amount of comfort into a hard ride.
With some thought and the right approach, you can enjoy the fresh air of winter while doing your favorite summer activity. It is just a matter of time before the roads are filled with cyclists and runners so follow this advice and get a head start!
Bobby Bailey is Director Sportif of The Dealer.com Cycling Team and Head Coach at 1K2GO SPORTS.