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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 11-15-07, 06:42 AM   #1
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Lessons Learned from a Winter Ride

Lessons learned from my 72 miles in 40 degree weather on Saturday:

1. The rules of hydration aren't suspended during the winter. I didn't hydrate properly on the ride, and I suffered. My excuse is that I was using a new water bottle, and the water had a plastic taste to it. A poor excuse, but my own. I should have filled and refilled and refilled my remaining water bottle. Not drinking like a camel during lunch was yet another error.

2. I didn't eat properly. I ate two and a half Cliff bars, and one Cliff Shot Block - one square, not a package - during the ride, and a bacon cheeseburger at the midpoint of the ride. I started the morning with a serving of oatmeal, spiked with protein powder, and yogurt. According to the rule of thumb I've learned, I should have consumed about 2000 calories on the ride, and I wasn't close. I was close to bonking on the final miles, and in fact walked part of two hills I'd normally pedal up. Dehydration didn't help matters.

3. I wasn't dressed for conditions. It was damp out, with a slight breeze. I was riding through forested areas on the Schuylkill River Trail. I wore only a compression shirt and a long sleeved jersey, covered by a shell that was too small for me, so I couldn't zip it and ride at the same time. A good-fitting jacket and perhaps another layer would have helped. My shorts and leg warmers kept my lower half a bit more warm than my top half, but tights over my shorts would have been a better choice. Insulated gloves would have been nice. And I envied my riding partner's balaclava. Shoe covers helped keep my feet warm, and wearing them was perhaps the only thing I did right.

4. I underestimated how soon it gets dark. We ended the ride about ten after five and it was so dark we couldn't read our bike computers. I'll bring lights next time I decide I need to go downtown.

5. When you are exhausted from riding in 40 degree weather on limited fuel and water, even a horrible Lindsay Lohan movie like Herbie: Fully Loaded seems entertaining and thought-provoking. At least it does if you are so drained you cannot even lift your hand to reach the remote.
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Old 11-15-07, 01:50 PM   #2
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Good points, esp. hyrdation. I have to force myself to drink when it's down in the teens or colder, but I learned last year that I'm losing enormous amounts of moisture even with little obvious sweat. Esp. with good wicking clothing you hardly notice how much water you're losing to the cold air. There's a tendency to drink little, which makes you colder and then a tendency to gorge on heavy foods and still not drink enough. I tossed my cookies more than once last year before I figured out I was eating too much and drinking too little.

If you've got a lot of snow and ice, let alone chunder, it's also easy to overestimate how much harder it's going to be to get from a to b. If you push hard, the snow will push right back. You have find a steady pace and just settle into it even if it's considerably slower than your normal summer pace. Based on my observations riding on snow and ice with studs is easily twice as difficult as riding on clean pavement. Clear ice, even with light snow on top is another story. I love ice, but it rarely lasts long before there's more snow and broken chunks of road crud blocking the path.
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