Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
While there is something to be said for that idea, it is only one piece of the puzzle.
Mental Game Coach John Ellsworth says - train your mind to focus on productive thought
|Up your mental game with Coach John|
A few years later, my wife picked up bodybuilding as a hobby. I had lifted weights in High School because I had to if I wanted to be on the football team, but I had never ever enjoyed it. It was a lot of work and it hurt.
That was when the skies opened up and I had my epiphany at Indiana Urology but I was sitting in the waiting room and I saw this Runners World magazine and on the cover I noticed an article called “Learn to love Running” I was intrigued. I had always passionately hated running.
Learn to love and you can do the impossible, Through Love, I can now conquer all things, at least the mundane ones.
If you have a cycling subject you would like me to write about or if you have cycling questions feel free to post here or contact me.
I live to help you learn to love all things cycling!
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Most people think that the secret to climbing hills lies in fitness, bodyweight and power. After all there is no substitute for training. My approach is to make this training more approachable by making it progressive resistance training and doing it in a way that allows increasing overload instead of impossible overload.
In other words if you have a goal to bench press 300 lbs as a beginner body builder you would not start with a 300 lb bench but would progressively work your way up.
The first thing that you need to know is that having the right equipment is key! Don't think that you have to run out an $18,000 Specialized S-Works + McLaren Venge,
#1 it helps to have the right equipment - First we need to talk about terminology and what impact that will have on your ability to climb any hill, without getting off your ride to push it over the summit. Road Bikes of any variety are better than Cruisers, Mountain Bikes (for road hills, great for mountains and off road hills), Hybrids and the like. While it is not necessary to have top end brand new bicycle, a road bike almost always offers a weight advantage. This is very important when you are fighting the planet Earth's gravitational attraction.
Some important terminology
Cassette - the gears on the rear wheel of your bike
Chain ring - the gears attached to the crank arms that are attached to the pedals - Bigger gears in front.
Which brings us to
#2 use your gears - you want to get in the smallest gear on your chainring and the biggest on your cassette as soon as possible when faced with an epic hill. It may seem ridiculously easy for the first few pedal strokes, but rest assured that if you are climbing a hill of any significance, you will need the energy that you saved on the bottom to go over the top.
#3 go slow at the start - so you are pedaling in your easiest gears (if you look down while you are riding your chain will be as close to the frame as it can get) but you don't need to go as hard as you can in that gear. Save your energy for where you are going to need it.... later on in this same hill.
When I tell people that they need to go slower, the typical response is, "If I go any slower, I will fall over!" That's because you only went slow after you were out of gas, go slow at the start and you will not run out of gas!
#4 Stay Seated - climbing out of the saddle should only be done because you need a short rest for the muscles you use while seated or the hill is so short that you can power over it. On long climbs it will cause you to blow up,,, unless you are very lean. Note to strong burly guys, you may get away from this on less than Cat 5 climbs, but once the climbs are categorized you will likely blow up no matter how strong you are. It is a power to weight ratio thing and if you fight gravity, gravity will win. Skinny people can ignore this part - still more efficient to stay seated most of the time, but skinny people will never believe me :)
#5 Pace yourself - Hill climbs of significance are not sprints for most of us, so we need to pace our energy output, so that we can stay on the bike the whole distance. If it is your first time to climb a major hill, start out slow and stay slow until the top of the hill is with in easy striking distance, then (if you really have a lot of gas left in the tank), power on over the top!
#6 improve your pedal stroke - I could easily spend a whole post talking about this. If you are not clipping in, I only have 6 tips for you,,,, just kidding. The idea is to have a smooth pedal stroke and one way to develop this is by practicing high cadence pedaling. 90 and above, if you one day find yourself pedaling at 130 rpm and your butt is rock solid in the saddle, you have arrived. If this is not you and you live in Indianapolis, come out to some Cure Chaser Cycling rides (indoor or outdoor) myself or one of our other coaches will be happy to help you get started towards a better pedal stroke.
#7 when you get tired scoot back in the saddle to use a different muscle group, when those muscles are tired, scoot forward. Refer to rule #20 The Rules
If you are training for the Hilly 100 come on out to our Blue Tuesday ride and get some vertical in before you show up in Elletsville next month. You won't regret it.
We meet in the parking lot across from SouthWestWay Park 8400 Mann Rd, Indianapolis, IN
This week we will be starting at 5:45 and the maximum length of the ride is 2 hours. It is an out and back course and we all start and finish together.
We will be moving the start earlier as we continue to loose daylight, if you plan to come out be sure to have lights on your bike just in case. You can find the full details including what to bring Here
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
In 2013 Indiana was ranked 37 among bicycle friendly states by the league of American Bicyclists.
The Criteria for this ranking can be found at the following link Bike League of America Friendly State Attributes
In particular what I am dealing with today is legislation and enforcement. A major part of that is the legislation and how Indiana compares to other states in this matter.
The NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety administration) Says that,
"Bicycles on the roadway are, by law, vehicles with the same rights, and responsibilities as motorized vehicles."
Let's see how states above Indiana on the list rank on this aspect.
|Much better, safer and more clearly |
Stated than "Share the Road"
Riding on the Road - When riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver (RCW 46.61.755).
I will call the following Full lane states
The following states on the list pretty much mirror Washington's laws- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Delaware, Maryland, Utah, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, Texas, North Dakota and Indiana .
I know there has been a lot of hoopla about needing more bike lanes and bike paths to make Indiana more bike friendly but legislation is Better than Bike Lanes, after all great cycling laws do not need to be repainted every few years and if enforced are more effective in my opinion.
The problem seems to be with people who are ignorant of what the laws and rules of the road really are. We seem to have people on a regular basis who want to instruct us that we need to ride single file on the road. Not in Indiana, we are able to ride 2 abreast just like motorcycles do.
Lane use restrictions; riding two abreast
Sec. 6. A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway may not ride more
than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for
the exclusive use of bicycles.
It also forces motor vehicles to use another lane to pass, instead of tempting them to share the lane and squeeze past cyclists, throwing caution to the wind and passing despite double yellow lines, blind corners or approaching the top of a hill.
The whole reason the double yellow exists is because either
#1 visibility is limited or
#2 there is access from side roads that may make passing dangerous
My belief is that education of both motorists and cyclists will make Indiana a more bicycle friendly state in a couple of important ways.
First of all motorists will be less hostile to cyclists on the road and informed motorists are a lot less likely to hang out on the wrong side of a double yellow line (i.e. no passing zone) so they can yell, "Don't you FN people realize that there are cars out here!" - "You need to be on the sidewalk." - "You need to ride those FN bikes single file, so I can pass." - the last meaning so that I can squeeze by while faced with oncoming traffic. The people that do this would certainly not be classified as "Bicycle Friendly Hoosiers" But they are mad because they just don't know any better,,,,, at least that is my thought :) in all fairness, this is really the minority of the drivers out there, but they are unfortunately the ones that stick out, just like cyclists.
Second, if cyclists them selves are more aware of and more compliant with the law, they will be more likely to use the roadways properly. In my neighborhood, I see lots of people riding bikes the wrong way on 2 way streets, using the sidewalks and the road interchangeably, not signaling anything and generally behaving in an unpredictable manner. Last night, we had a cyclist pass us and then blow the 2 way stop sign that we were slowing for at a busy intersection. He didn't just roll through, he went full speed and I couldn't tell that he even looked for traffic. This sort of behavior does not breed "Bicycle friendly behavior from motorists"
|Double Yellow means no passing, |
even if you can squeeze by
You can learn more and ask questions about Indiana Bicycle law at a great web site provided by Caress Law Group at the following link indianabicyclelaw.com/
See you on the Road!
The care and feeding of your hydration system
what to look for in cycling gloves
How to tell if your bike fits
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Am I average and what does that mean?
Great news, at least for cyclists who have been confused when they show up for a ride that advertises and average speed of 18 mph and find themselves pedaling at 25 mph in places just to hang on to the back of the group.
Here is something that I can certainly guarantee you. 18 mph average, never means top speed. So if this is your maximum comfortable top speed on the flat, you are likely looking for a group that rides more on the order of 14 mph average.
Then you also need to take into consideration the type of terrain that you will be riding on. If elevation gain is on the order of 1600' for a 32 mile ride then, 14 mph average takes on a whole new meaning.
|Your speed may vary|
First of all - average speed on a bicycle is not like average speed in a car on the interstate.
- The first difference is that it is rare to find the place where your pace will not vary as a result of the terrain (small to large hills) or necessary stops (for stop signs, traffic and depending on the length of the ride, food and water/fuel)
- The second difference is that the accelerations can actually hurt physically, unlike stepping on the gas in your car when you leave a stop sign or go up a hill, there can be pain involved to match the group as they accelerate.
- The difference in speed to arrive average speed will vary a lot more as a result.
- I did a ride 32.5 mile ride with an average speed of 15.1 mph - there was 1600 feet of elevation gain and I had a top speed of 42.6 but I also had time where I was under 5 mph. So elevation gain played a factor in my average.
- By comparison, I had a 21 mile ride with an average of 21.7 mph - but there was only 250 feet of Elevation gain. My top speed was only 31.6 and I spent a significant portion of that ride in the neighborhood of 18 mph.
|Training Ride in the flatlands of Indiana|
Average speed 16 mph - pretty steady stuff
If you have been on one of the hundreds of rides that I have organized over the over the last few years and read the descriptions, either on line or in email, you will notice that in most cases, I do not post and average, but rather a difficulty level, proper bike to ride, along with a distance. A lot of this has come as a result of hearing people complain for example, "They say that ride is a 20 mph average but when they hit 25 I just had to let them go. What a bunch of jerks, they should ride the advertised speed." I hear comments like this all the time still and see that people equate average to "speed limit"
Remember these are not the same.
Also, I tend to grade my rides Beginner, Advancing Intermediate, Intermediate or Advanced.
Beginner - Rides start at 8 miles and last for less than one hour - but can be as long as 17 with an hour and 30 minute duration. Any kind of bike is allowed and we do our best to keep this group together. As riders get more fit, we will split into 2 groups with myself on the back and an more experienced rider that knows the route with the front. We are teaching the essentials of traffic safety at this level and verbal communication skills for a group. (i.e. slowing, stopping, on your right, on your left, car up, car back, wave at all passing motorists, etc...) on topic, you can see that average speeds in these groups are 8 - 11 mph - These rides are always done on relatively flat terrain.
Advancing Intermediate - These are people who have decided that they want to kick their fitness, speed and or distance up a notch. At this point we want to see nice Road Hybrids or Road Bikes as it is essential to have good equipment to keep up with the group. I encourage close formation riding to take advantage of drafting. There should be a lot of verbal communication at this level. We will start extending the distance up to 30 miles and incorporating rollers into the rides. (Rollers are hills to the uninitiated, but to experienced hill climbers, they are not significant climbs. What makes them rollers is that you can generally take a lot of advantage from momentum as they are straight descents on straight roads that you can see the bottom and up to the top of the next roller. Hence you can roll through them with some effort)
A Couple of issues that riders at this level typically need to over come is the fear of straight line speed and fear of following more closely in a group. Typically we will do rides of 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hour 15 minutes duration so you can see that the Average speeds in this group will approach 14 mph.
Intermediate - At this point your have become a dedicated roadie and understand that road riding really requires a road bike (not a hybrid of any description) Not that you still don't have other types of bikes as we all know by this time that the formula for the proper amount of bikes to have is N+1 (with N = the amount of bikes that you currently own) and if you are married to a non cyclist the adapted formula of N+1<D (D= the amount of bikes that would result in a divorce)
By this time you are likely much more in tune with what an average speed means on a ride.
You talk to people who have ridden with the group and try to know what the course looks like in advance.
You are also aware that just because you can ride up to 20 mph, that does not mean that you can average that under any circumstances.
Likely you are doing rides in the 50 plus mile range and have your sites set on doing your first Century Ride or Hilly Hundred.
Riders in this group will typically be able to average 16-17 mph on flatter courses (faster in groups, because you have become a dedicated wheel sucker by now) and 12 - 13 on something that is pretty hilly but with a distance of less than 35 miles.
|This is me topping a 7 mile Cat 2 climb|
In Death Valley, CA about 1 hour to
Complete - 7 mph average
Regardless - this advanced group can mean a whole lot of different things from Category racer to someone who does a Century ride every year (not necessarily at break neck speed)
At this point you have an idea what you want to get out of your cycling experience (i.e. just stay fit, meet really great people, do a 500 mile ride in 2 days, etc..) it's all good and the variety of people that I meet while in the saddle is one of the things that keeps me coming back for more.
Riders in this category, know what average means and are only reading this post to humor me. But suffice it to say that they will likely do relatively long rides in excess of 15 mph and depending on their mind set may go all the way up to infinity :)
If you are interested in expanding your horizons, are a cyclist at any level, currently live in the Indianapolis area, I would like invite you to join my cycling meetup group at Indianapolis Beginner Cycling Meetup Group If you aren't from Indy, and happen to be in the area we would love to ride with you.
I know the name of the group is technically the Beginner Cycling Meetup, After all our focus is to get people on their bikes, confident in their abilities and hooked on cycling! We have been very successful and as a result have added all of the above categories to our meetups.
Lots of great informative articles coming up! Subscribe to my blog today so you don't miss a thing!
Friday, August 29, 2014
|Me and My Ford Ranger|
See, I don't always wear my Stretchy Pants &
I do drive a Motor Vehicle
I would like to point out that I could say the same thing about school systems for the same reason,,, but I do agree that bike lanes are a waste of money here in Indiana because we already have laws in place that make them unnecessary - but that will be the subject of another blog.
I would like to point out that my groups ride primarily in rural areas (We do frequently have to ride out of more populated areas to get to less traveled parts of the country. This is mostly due to parking issues) Incidents with motorists (i.e people yelling at us to get on the sidewalk - not legal or safe in most municipalities - swerving at us, laying on the horn, waving at us with one finger, etc.... ) tend to happen no matter where we are and are in the minority. But that does not excuse the behavior of that lower crust of society, particularly when it occasionally puts my riders in danger. Surprisingly a lot of Motorcyclists seem to be in this group. Many people don't seem to realize that all of us on "bicycles" in our tight clothing also drive cars and some of us ride motorcycles as well.
Todays subject is unsafe behaviors by motor vehicles. One of the unsafe behaviors that we frequently observe is passing when it is not safe to pass. For example on blind curves, double yellow lines, with vehicles approaching (I particularly do not want to share the lane when the passing vehicle is having to negotiate both myself and oncoming traffic - formula for me to get hurt)
Just last week, I had a young driver (whose father obviously was instructing) pass me on a double yellow (it was a safe enough area, but he cut in before he was clear of me and nearly took me down) Way to go dad!
The following incident happened last month to a friend of mine on a rural road out near Coatsville, IN (you can see the area in question on google maps at https://goo.gl/maps/vzloj )
- The lack of interest/response by law enforcement - they could have at least pretended that they cared - they could have at least given the alleged offender a strong talking to or lacking that gumption, sent him a strongly worded email.
- The fact that law enforcement in this case seemed more concerned with property damage than a threat to life a limb
- This particular deputy's obvious disregard of the fact that the "10 year old" was supervised by an adult and the fact that Father and Son were acting safely within the law, while the motorist in question was doing neither. I could make the case that it is not safe for a 10 year old to be riding in a care on "Heritage Lake Drive" when there is the risk of being run off the road by oncoming traffic. Seriously? This woman works security for this community? Again, at least act like you care instead of trying to ignore the issue and put in lame opinions.
- Riding the wrong direction as if you are a pedestrian. This is extremely unsafe as walkers and runners can easily step off the road as a car approaches, but especially when there is a curb, this is not practical for a cyclist, it is a very dangerous practice and illegal.
- Running stop signs, I understand the urge to roll a stop sign and conserve momentumm, but we are doing this for fitness as well as fun so at least put your foot down. I see plenty of cars roll stop signs as well but that does not make it safe.
- Riding unpredictably in general. I see cyclists riding around bike trails (not on but in the street on the wrong side looking like they are going to get on a trail only to swerve away at the last instant! What's up with that?
In my opinion, cyclists who ride safely and are extra alert for faux paux by motor vehicles avoid a lot of grief, but can only account so much for their safety when motor vehicles pull dangerous and illegal stunts.
What is the answer to all this? Education!
Put the effort into educating motorists and cyclists alike as to what is legal and acceptable behavior and I believe we will not only have safer highways for cyclists but for everyone who uses them.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages all road users, including motorists and bicyclists, to respect each other and foster a safer transportation environment. Bicycles on the roadway are, by law, vehicles with the same rights, and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.
Be nice to each other :)
Until next time,
Happy trails and safe riding!
- Why greenway trails and bike lanes are not the answer in my next segment
- What is average?
- 3 for 3 don'ts
and much more
Got a topic you have questions about, send me a message or post in comments and I will do my best to give you a solid answer
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Today, I am taking a break from my Share the Road not the lane Series to talk about, what is the absolute most important part of your cycling gear, the helmet.
I get a lot of questions about what the difference is in cycling helmets, what to look for in a helmet and why they vary so much in price.
For me the most important thing about a helmet for a new user is Comfort!
....what?? I know that many of you are likely gasping with surprise that I didn't put how well it protects your head at the top of my list. There are 2 reasons for this.
- Virtually all helmets are going to give you a reasonable amount of protection or else the manufacturer risks liability if the product they recommend to protect your head fails to do so. Examples of the amount of risk assumed by helmet manufactures can be illustrated by the Greg Bedan vs Rawlings when in 1981 a Johnson County Circuit Court jury in Indiana returned a $5.8 million judgement yesterday against Rawlings Sales Company, over a spinal cord injury sustained while Greg was wearing one of their helmets. That was a lot of money back then and the suit was over a failure to warn that the helmet would not protect against spinal cord injury.
- If the helmet is not comfortable, you are a lot less likely to adopt it's use all the time. A helmet owner with a comfy helmet is a happy helmet wearer.
|But this is the one that saved my|
Head at Mount Mitchell
- In my opinion the first thing is fit. If the helmet has great adjustment, you should be able to be comfortable in all circumstances. If you are wearing a hat underneath (BTW there are 2 reasons to wear a hat under your helmet) #1 if it is raining - your want to wear one of those funny looking cycling hats to use the specially designed short brim to keep the rain out of your eyes. #2 as an additional head warmer.
- Second is maximum venting. The more your helmet lets the wind through, the better, as far as I'm concerned. You can always put a cover over your helmet to block the wind when it gets colder, but if it is hot, you can't very well ad to your vent space. A great helmet will be much cooler than a cheaper (not so great helmet)
- Finally, weight. If the helmet is very light and does not feel like it is even there, if becomes so comfortable, you will likely forget that it is there.
You can find some really good videos on proper helmet fit on the right side of the page at the following link for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - Bold and Italic
"Less than two percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists." Which is good news - per 100,000 miles driven, a bicycle is much safer than a motorized vehicle - and I am doing my part to make it even more Safe!
"The most serious injuries among a majority of those killed are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Eighty-nine percent of bicycle deaths are persons 16 and older, so helmet laws should include adults. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk.
Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 reportedly weren't wearing helmets."
Wearing a helmet my seem like an inconvenience to many people, but I can tell you that my helmets have saved my noggin on many occasions (both on bicycles and motorcycles) and this is mandatory gear in my book.
So find a helmet that you like and enjoy wearing, even if it costs a few dollars more and you will not regret it!
Next time - Part #3 on Share the Road - Not the Lane - Real life examples
Thursday, August 21, 2014
I found this really instructive video about the Rights and Duties of a Cyclist and while they are saying the laws and rights apply nationally, I have not personally found this to be the case. The good news is that this is fully in line with Indiana Law (again, we are a lot more bicycle friendly than we get credit for here in Indiana - but I will be posting about that as well.
While this is a YouTube video that was originally posted by The League of American Cyclists, I found it at IndyCog.org a great local advocacy group.
Some things that I think this video illustrates very well, is that as cyclists we need to control the lane. This means when it is not safe for motorists to pass, we don't allow this as an option. It is totally with in our rights according to Indiana law.
That said, we can still be courteous and make room for a car to get by when it is safe to do so. Some notable examples are
- When on a 2 lane but the lane is really wide we can get to the right, but be sure to leave room if you are squeezed and don't forget to wave
- shifting into a turn lane to allow traffic going straight to get clear.
- Waving the traffic by when it is safe to pass
- Waving as they pass to keep them at arms length and to be friendly, possibly diffusing some frustration.
- Be aware of what is going on around you - watch for cars approaching from the back
- acknowledge their presence
Next time a real life story from someone that I know!
Keep those cards, letters and questions coming!
See you on the road soon I hope!
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Today I am writing about something
that is a focus of every single ride that I lead. This is stuff that every
single person who rides bicycles or drives an automobile on Indiana roadways
Roadways; rights and duties
Sec. 2. A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle, except the following: (You can find the full code at this link http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/2010/title9/ar21/ch11.html but the exceptions boil down to bicycle specific stuff, like hanging on to street cars, carrying packages, Bells, but no whistles stuff like that) This means (and I have verified this with several members of the Indiana State Police) that:
Lane use restrictions; riding two abreast Sec. 6. A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway may not ride more than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles . Clearly cyclists are allowed to ride 2 abreast in Indiana, just like Motorcyclists. (Apparently in bike lanes or on bike paths, you can ride more side by side?)
I will frequently experience motorists who are ignorant of Indiana Law chastising me and my groups for riding 2 abreast (usually while passing on a double yellow or at some other illegal and dangerous place) the only reason that I can see for the angst I sometimes experience from these motorists is that they are frustrated because they cannot share the lane with me and have to wait for oncoming traffic to clear before they can pass.
It seems that motorists are aggravated by cyclists presence on the road because of the perceived delay that is caused by having to negotiate their way past a group (or a single) cyclist.
I have in fact timed the delays my group causes at some of the predominant bottle necks that we ride on a regular basis. (I call them bottle necks because these are places where it is difficult for motorists to pass the various groups that I lead – even when we are trying to help them – more on how we help motorists get past our groups later)
The typical delay in the bottle necks ranges from 1 minute 30 seconds up to 5 minutes – which I realize can seem like an eternity as I am a motorists to and have had to wait behind school buses, mail carriers, garbage trucks and farm tractors for this length of time on numerous occasions. These are both extremes in the bottle necks but I have seen both of the places that this happens take this long once in a while.
I have seen motorists aggravated by delays as short as 5 seconds as well, and this is way more common than seems sensible. (If you are wondering how I know what these intervals are, I have a timer on my bicycle computer (speedometer) that displays in seconds, minutes and hours.
I realize that the average attention span of an adult is supposed to be about 8 seconds so I guess that this is par for the course.
The result is drivers who make potentially dangerous moves on cyclists with no thought to the possible consequences.
I believe that this is in part due to the “Share the Road” signs like this that dot the country side.
Looking at this sign you are givin the impression that it is ok to squeeze by a bicycle in the same lane, even if you have oncoming traffic. It looks like you are being told to share the lane! It seems that motorists believe that this mean bicyclists are supposed to squeeze to the right as far as they can to allow motor vehicles to squeeze by and save those precious seconds that they lose slowing down and waiting to pass bicycles.
This is not what Indiana Law says. It is also AN EXTREMELY UNSAFE DRIVING PRACTICE.
Here is an example of a sign that communicates what the above signs try to communicate without confusing the message
This is why I encourage riders in my groups to do a few things to mitigate this risk.
With all the talk that Indiana is not a bicycle friendly state, because we don’t have more bike lanes and greenways (more on that later) It seems that if we would just respect, educate about and enforce the laws that are already in place, Indiana proves to be one of the most cycling friendly states that I have ridden in.
The Trouble with Bike Lanes
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
The temperature is likely to be hovering somewhere south of 30 degrees Fahrenheit at 10 am Saturday morning when the pedal commences.
There are 2 ways to approach this type of ride. The first is my preference because I don't like to carry a bunch of extra junk with me, but it requires a lot of advance preparation, so that you can arrive at the ride ready to ride immediately instead of standing around waiting for the start.
This strategy will work with most cold weather rides and the major difference from the second approach is in the layering and planning for the reduction of said layering.
If you are wondering why I am starting with the way most of you are not likely to do this, it is because you will just do some extra stuff to keep from turning into an Ice cycle before the ride starts.
First of all I try to dress just warm enough so that I will be cold at the start and maybe wonder if I should have brought more clothing, then you know that you have planned perfectly.
Remember the trick to staying warm is to not get so warm that you sweat and you do this by unzipping initially just as you start to feel a little perspiration. This may initially be to cool due to the phase change caused by evaporative cooling, most people wait a little too long and will suffer this initial evaporative effect. Tough it out for a few minutes though and everything will be just fine!
So my strategy for my minimalist approach is to wheel up to the start line with plans to see the front already rolling, so that I don't even have to stop. Since I rode to the line, I am already warm and there for do not have to ride a bit harder to get initially warmed up, prompting some people to make comments like, "What's your hurry?"
With this strategy, for any just below freezing ride down to as cold as 25, I start with some good base layers
- balaclava or some sort of head cover
- gloves - should be a bit on the loose side and can be as simple as work gloves with cycling glove worn underneath or wool liners, up to nice lobster claw mittens. Just be sure that they are not too tight.
- toe covers, whole shoe covers and/or winter shoes
- Wool socks
- winter jacket - it's good if it's bike specific because it will have wind protection of some sort built in - but it must have a full zipper to facilitate temperature control
- tights - can be the runner variety and they are to be worn over your shorts
- Wind Pants or you can wear rain pants, but unless they are a really good pair they don't tend to stay together in the cold
- wind vest - one with large back pockets is handy as you warm up and shed some layers - likely with the predicted temps and brevity of this ride, you will not get to the shed a layer part
- Hot hands - chemical air activated hand warmers to be worn inside your gloves you can buy them here
- Toastie Toes - same type of chemical warmer but with adhesive, should be adhered to the bottom of your wool socks you can buy them here
If you show up right as the ride is rolling out you can be already acclimated and avoid the obvious questions, when you are trying to get warm at the start, i.e. "What's the big hurry?"
A couple of fine points here, Leg and arm warmers should be on the very bottom of everything you wear. Nothing sadder than seeing someone show up with their underwear on the outside,,,, unless they are some sort of cycling super hero. Also depending on whether you are riding with clips or not will dictate what your footwear looks like.
The Wool socks are a given. Wool is a great insulator and retains 95% of it's insulating properties, even when wet. So should you accidently let those feet sweat, your toes should still stay toasty. If you are using clips, I recommend winter cycling shoes, but in the event that you do not have time to invest in that at least have toe covers and don't forget your chemical warmers, adhered to the bottom of your wool socks.
If you are riding on platform pedals use something like what I have pictured to the right.
Head gear should also be layered. The hat is a nice start, the balaclava will keep your ears warm and can be rolled down to fine tune your head temperature. The helmet..... well it protects your noggin obviously, but this is the time of year to wear a cheap one that is not ventilated as well, so as not to be designed to keep your head cool.
Finally, the rain cover is also a great wind block and will definitely keep you from getting brain freeze while you ride. See handy illustration with handsome model below.
Ok, so I realize this is a lot to take in, but I still have a few more things.
I can't stress enough how important it is to layer, stay warm enough not to shiver, but not so warm that you start producing moister to cool yourself back down.
Use those zippers to properly manage your body temperature, adjust early and don't be afraid to adjust often.
If you have insulated water bottles, fill them with hot water before you leave. I rather enjoy warm electrolyte solution, but if you just take plain water and don't sweat, you will be fine on this length and type of ride.
But remember, just because it's cold, doesn't mean that you don't still need to drink and keeping that beverage hot, makes that a lot more pleasant proposition.
Finally, if you insist on showing up early, wear the same stuff with some sort of outer shell to keep you warm until the ride actually starts. Just be sure to wear a backpack too, so that you will have a place to carry that pre ride warm up layer.
Also, even though this is a big event, there will likely be a lot of first timers there, despite the fact this is a cold weather ride. So be sure to give yourself extra room to react to anything that they may do.
There may be snow and ice still on the ground on Saturday, so be prepared.
I'm sorry that I have a previous commitment leading an indoor spin class in a toasty 70 degree environment or I would be right out there with you guys.
Ride safe, have fun and let me know if you have any questions about anything I have covered here or anything that I have left out that you feel the need to know.
Start the New Year ride season off with an awesome ride everyone!