Benefits of Winter Cycling

We are seeing more people staying on their bikes through the winter months, which we obviously think is great!  If you are interested in continuing to ride through the colder weather, but have not made the leap, here are some reasons to give it a try.

Your body will be better! Winter riding burns more calories, both on and off the bike. Riding in the cold also boosts your immune system. And the extra work you do pushing around all that extra clothing and gear makes you stronger. Leaner, healthier and stronger, who does not want that?

Your mental health will get better! Exercising outdoors in the winter helps stave off Seasonally Affected Disorder. Riding in the cold and windy and sometimes icy Kansas winter makes you tougher mentally. I find getting out on a cold day is far more of a mental challenge than an actual physical one. One of my mentors always said, ‘Force yourself out for ten minutes, and if it really is awful, then quit’. But almost always you will find yourself continuing to ride. And then if you want an ego boost, pedal to the coffee shop and impress everyone with your tenacity!

Winter is part of our reality, embrace it! Riding takes on a certain serenity in the cold. The quiet is revitalizing. Another plus is bike paths and multi-use trails not being full of others out exercising. You will also find less traffic on the back roads as the farmers, ranchers and road construction crews are not out as much. And for you gravel riders, the dust is down and the roads are firm when they are frozen.

Best of all, you will be soooo ready for spring!  You’ll be stronger than your couch potato friends. Cool and or damp days that discourage others will not deter you after what you conquered over the winter. And you will feel extra fast when you shed all those layers of clothing and gear and can just get after it!

Of course riding safely and comfortably in the cold will require having the correct clothing. For a thorough discussion of the clothing I use for different temperature ranges, see my blog from February 2014.

There are a few things to watch for when one rides in the winter. There is more wear and tear on your bike as there is often more grime and moisture on the roads in the winter. Thus, cleaning and lubricating your machine is even more important than in warm weather. Also, winter is not a good time to go all out. Use your time on the bike to build base miles and to add to your enjoyment. You don’t want to hit spring burned out.  There is also less daylight, so a good lighting system can make your ride safer and extend your riding time.

Thousands of cyclists swear that winter cycling is well worth the trouble. Let us help you find out for yourself.

Dave Colburn