Most people think of cycling and images of beautiful fall and spring days come to mind. Fall is a not-so-distant memory, and spring will be here in just over two months. What would happen if we continued to ride all winter?
Stronger & Tougher – training in the off-season nearly doubles the opportunity to build muscle and endurance. Keep in mind that winter training is very different from the rest of the year, so prepare appropriately. Winter riding is hard on equipment, your body, and your psyche. After a season of cold your will have seen more than most and dealt with frozen/numb extremities. You will discover a new respect for the stages of defrosting and be better for it.
You’ll Slay Calories – biking keeps your lower body very active and your upper body relatively calm. Nonshivering Thermogenesis (NST) is about keeping your body just warm enough to not shiver. NST increases calories burned while riding and may do the same while you rest. This is another way of saying that being cold helps you burn more fat.
Reduced Sickness – regular exercising reduces your chance of getting sick by half. Staying out of germ-infested indoor environments can’t hurt either, and you can save money by canceling that gym membership.
Creativity – winter weather forces us to ride differently. Instead of long back-road routes, you may find yourself riding circuits or intervals in a local park or enjoying a now abandoned bike path in the depth of winter. The benefit of changing your regular routes will help you avoid finding yourself frozen and numb eight miles from home.
Layering – other outdoor winter activities can have you warming your entire body quickly and either shedding layers or under dressing. The challenge with cycling is balancing the art of thin layers with the science of maintaining a high enough core temperature to avoid shivering. With some practice, you will become a master of this skill.
Gear – winter weather really does a number on your bicycle and equipment. As your bike expands and contracts with the temperature swings your brakes, cables, drivetrain, and tires really take a beating. Winter bike care is essential.
Ride with us this winter! ValloCycle is committed to creating and supporting a biking community in Montevallo.
Our articles also appear in the Montevallo Chamber Chatter - find us in print there!