5 Ways To Stay Warm On Cold Rides

Here we go again…looks like the Polar Vortex has descended upon us once again. We don’t know about you, but so long as we don’t get one of our famous, downhome Carolina Ice Storms, we’ll keep riding outside as much as we can.

Now, you wouldn’t think a bunch of Southerners would know much about riding in the cold, but most of us actually grew up riding, training and racing in places like Vermont, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Portland (Oregon, not Maine– which is a whole other animal), so we’ve learned a few things over the years about riding in the wet, the cold, and the snow.

So here it is: 5 Ways To Stay Warm on Cold Rides.

1. Layer Up

Using layered cycling clothing can help you adjust your temperature to suit the ride and the conditions. You can pretty much layer every part of your clothing system as the conditions warrant, from your feet all the way to your head. Click here for our guide to layering.

PRO TIP #1: No matter how well you think you’ve layer up on top, always bring a wind jacket or vest with you in case conditions take a turn for the worse. #1B is to bring some knee warmers on super cold days– if your knees get cold you can put them on over (but preferably under) your tights for extra coverage.

PRO TIP #2: Spare arm warmers, spare gloves or liners, a spare hat, and base layer can pack up small in a plastic bag that fits easily into a jersey pocket. On long rides, it gives you the option of changing out sweaty, damp garments for warm, dry ones.

PRO TIP #3: Don’t use super thick cycling socks with your cycling shoes. Instead, layer your overshoes as needed, putting insulated ones closer to the foot, covered by wind/waterproof ones.

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

2. Hot Water Bottle

Using an insulated water bottle filled with some warm tea or Skratch Labs Apples and Cinnamon hydration mix (which is absolutely delicious, by the way) can take the edge off a very cold ride. This is a tip that the pro’s use during early season races like Milan-San Remo to stay warm (check out a video here)

Make like the pro's, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides

Make like the pro’s, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides (Orica-GreenEdge)

3. Eat Enough

In the winter, you burn more calories on the bike than during the summer. Not only are you using fuel to exercise, but also to stay warm. That means that during the winter you should fuel up with a healthy breakfast like oatmeal, and then bring plenty of bars, chews or gels to eat while riding. This will give you plenty of carbs to keep your body warm and prevent the dreaded bonk—which could mean serious trouble if you’re far from home on a cold winter’s day.

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

4. Mix In Intervals

If you’re really feeling the cold, trying mixing in some intervals to bring up your body temperature. You can either 1) pick a target a good distance away and ride as hard as you can until you reach it, or 2) go by time, and ride as hard as you can for about a minute. Just make sure you don’t go so hard that you start sweating a lot, which can just make the problem worse.

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

5. Take a Rest

We usually like to plan our long, meandering winter rides with a destination in mind—usually a restaurant or café with warm drinks and food. But it’s OK to take a break at any time if you’re feeling cold, chilled, or just tired. Stop at a gas station, coffee shop, café, whatever, warm up and take a breather.

Go in and get warm, grab some hot tea or coffee, and eat a cookie.

PRO TIP #1: If you’re feeling the chill from a damp clothing, you can use your rest stop to change into your spare base layer, spare gloves or liners, and hat. That way you can go back out into the cold feeling dry and warm.

PRO TIP #2: If your toes are feeling very cold on your ride, see if you can get some aluminum foil or a foil food wrapper, and wrap up your toes. It’s not the most comfortable thing, but it does provide some additional insulation.

PRO TIP #3: Ask if the coffee shop or restaurant can refill your water bottles with hot water.

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

Real Advice: Setting Up Your Trainer Room

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1. Pick the Room

Even trainers that claim to be “ultra-quiet” are still going to generate enough noise to annoy someone in an adjacent room. Pick a room that’s separated from others in the house, such as a basement, garage, or spare bedroom. Make sure you have room to set up the trainer and angle it toward your entertainment of choice. And remember folks—make sure that floor is level-ish. An uneven floor can make the trainer rock, putting a ton of stress on your hips (no good) and the bike frame (really no good).

 

2. Sweat Catching

Since you’re not going to be riding anywhere, there will be no air moving on you. That means you’re going to sweat more. To avoid ruining the carpet or hardwood, set up a trainer mat or towel underneath your bike. To avoid ruining your bike (specifically the headset and BB bearings), use a sweat catcher or hang a towel over your bike.

Using a sweat net or towel can help preserve the life of your compoents

Using a sweat net or towel can help preserve the life of your compoents

3. Cooling

Since riding the trainer gets super-hot, it’s a good idea to set up a fan to keep from overheating. Even a cheap mini tabletop fan can make a world of difference. Using a fan doesn’t preclude following Step 2—you’re still going to sweat like a demon.

 

Not sure what kind of trainer to get? Check out our guide.

 

4. Entertainment

Riding the trainer with nothing to do can get really, really boring really, really fast. Make sure you have a TV, tablet, or computer to watch a movie or do a structured work out.

PRO TIP: Since there trainer is loud and you’ll have a fan running, if you’re in a domestic living situation or have housemates, it is generally considered polite to invest a couple of bucks in a headphone extension cord or some wireless headphones so you’re not tempted to crank the TV volume.

Using headphones can help maintain domestic harmony

Using headphones can help maintain domestic harmony

5. At Hand

Set up a stool or some medium height shelves next to your bike. It should be at about a height where you can reach it comfortable while seated in the saddle. This will ensure that your remotes, computer mouse, gels, spare water bottle, spare towel, etc… are all easily at hand.

 

6. Be Prepared

The trainer is usually more demanding than an outdoor workout. Not only do you have the increased resistance of the unit itself, but heat buildup and a tough structured workout can really take it out of you. For an hour long trainer session, you should have 3 water bottles (2 of them filled a hydration drink) and some gels to keep your energy levels up and avoid dehydration.

 

Last Chance 2014 Gran Fondos

Gran Fondos are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist

Gran Fondos are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist

If you’ve gotten out to some of our Great Ride Series rides at our stores, you’ve probably realized how awesome a group ride is. If you’re ready to take it to the next step though, you might just be ready for a Gran Fondo.

Gran Fondo’s are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist, have fun at a well organized event, and give you a goal to work towards. Gran Fondos are usually challenging rides of 100 miles or more (though often organizers offer medio and piccolo routes for shorter distances), and most organizers pride themselves on finding the hardest routes possible.

If you’re looking for an event to end your year on a high note, these rides might be your last chances until next year.

No matter where in the country you live, there are a few rides left that can give you a chance to see how you stack up, or just give you some bragging rights with your buddies.

Did we miss your favorite ride? Tell us about it in the comments section.

WEST COAST / SOUTHWEST

Tri State Gran Fondo

October 11, 2014

Mosquite, NV

Challenge Gran Fondo

October 12, 2014

Durham, CA

Tour de Scottsdale

October 12, 2014

Scottsdale, AZ

El Grande Fondo de Los Angeles Crest

October 18, 2014

Los Angeles, CA

 

 

ROCKIE MOUNTAINS

Tour de St. George Fall Gran Fondo

October 25, 2014

St. George, UT

The Coal Miner Gran Fondo

October 31, 2014

Steamboat Springs, CO

 

 

EAST COAST

Gran Fondo Virginia

October 11, 2014

Albemarle County, VA

New Holland Bicycle Race Gran Fondo

October 11, 2014

New Holland, PA

Tour of the Battenkill Fall Preview Ride

October 11, 2014

Greenwich, NY

Oktoberfest Ride

October 12, 2014

Collegeville, PA

Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic

October 12, 2014

Lehigh Valley, PA

Hincapie Gran Fondo

October 25, 2014

Greenville, SC

Florida Cycling Challenge

October 31, 2014

Daytona, FL

Bookwater Binge Charity Gran Fondo

November 1, 2014

Asheville, NC

 

To learn how to prepare for your next big ride, check out these articles:

Alternative Road Bikes: The Only Bike You Need?

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

One of the coolest emerging categories from bike manufacturers these days are alternative road bikes. Descended from road bikes, alternative road bikes have evolved into a category of their own, and continue to be refined to help riders take road bikes to new places we could scarcely imagine a few years ago.
So what makes an alternative road bike?

  • Disc (or sometimes cantilever) brakes for better stopping performance
  • Higher bottom bracket for more ground clearance
  • Clearance for bigger tires
  • More upright riding position and longer wheel base
  • Frames tuned to be more flexible in the right places (like the seatstays) for improved comfort

 

Cyclocross Bikes

The OG alternative road bike. These bikes are designed for the discipline of cyclocross (read more about it here), but have since become some of the most popular bikes on the market. Why?

Because the ‘cross bike is basically a do everything bike. It might look like a road bike, but they have clearance for wider tires (usually up to a 38mm, versus a normal road bike’s 25mm max), a taller bottom bracket, and powerful cantilever or disc brakes These features allow CX bikes to go places most normal road bikes can’t, from off-road riding, to mountain bike trails, to fireroads. Additionally, ‘cross bikes have a geometry very similar to a racing road bike, so you can simply switch out the knobby tires for a pair of road tires, and you’ll have yourself a very capable road bike.

Examples: Fuji Altamira CX, Van Dessel AloominatorRidley X-Fire

Key Strength: Versatile race-ready platform

Best For: Cyclocross, road riding, limited trail riding

 

The Ridley X-Night is fine example of a cylcocross bike

The Ridley X-Night is fine example of a cylcocross bike

Gravel Bikes

This is a relatively new category, but a pretty exciting one. Similar to a cyclocross bike, gravel bikes are primarily designed to be ridden on gravel and fire roads. Like cyclocross bikes they usually feature disc brakes, a high bottom bracket and big tire clearance.

What sets a gravel bike apart though is the geometry. While most ‘cross bikes are pretty racey, Gravel Bikes usually have a more relaxed “endurance” type geometry with a taller head tube, sloping top tube, and longer wheel base for improved comfort over long distances. The head tube angle is also a little slacker, and the chainstays longer, to give you more stability on uneven surfaces.

Examples: GT Grade

Key Strength: Outstanding stability and handling on rough roads

Best For: Exploring off the beaten path, gravel racing

 

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

Adventure Bikes

This isn’t really a category…yet, but it’s one that includes some really exciting new bikes. These bikes aren’t really gravel bikes, nor cyclocross bikes, but they still incorporate a lot of the features we love, and are extremely capable.

Disc brakes, wide tire clearance, fender and rear rack mounts…these bikes aren’t really designed to do any one thing particularly brilliantly… but they are designed to do a lot of things pretty well. They’re at home on the MTB trail, on gravel roads, on the CX course, or even some light touring. They won’t do quite as well as a dedicated platform, but for the rider who dabbles in everything, it’s the perfect solution.

Examples: Diamondback Haanjo, Fuji Tread

Key Strength: Outright versatility

Best For: Someone who wants only one bike to do it all

Adventure awaits you aboard the Diamondback Haanjo

Adventure awaits you aboard the Diamondback Haanjo

Brian’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo Recap

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Our coworker Brian just completed Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Harrisonburg, VA this weekend. It has a reputation as the toughest ride on the East Coast, and with it’s combination of long distances, steep hills, and gravel, has been known to take even very experienced riders to their limits. Fortunately, Brian finished the gran fondo, and we’re checking in with him to see how it went, what he would do differently, and what advice he has for anyone wanting to attempt it next year.

-Hi Brian. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt going into the gran fondo?

I felt pretty good going into it, but I think I could do better next year. My fitness was generally pretty good, but not having done it before, I definitely wasn’t ready for how difficult the gravel climbs would be, and they took their toll. I also made some stupid mistakes in the first half of the ride that almost undid me in the second half. Other than that, I felt pretty good on the bike, and was overall just happy to have finished.

-What was your favorite part?

Crossing the finish line to find my amazing girlfriend waiting with a bottle of Clif Recovery drink and a plate of food.

My favorite part of the actual ride was the descent off the first KOM section. Wide open highway, gentle curves, and high speeds. It was really exhilarating, and not something I get to experience too often. You truly get a feeling of flying, and it’s one of the most fun things I think you can do on a bike.

IMG_8212

Riders for the Gran Fondo, Medio, and Piccolo routes all started together

-What was your least favorite part?

I think the two gravel climbs might be physically the hardest thing I’ve done, but the last 20 miles was much more difficult, mentally. Even on a really, really hard climb like Reddish Knob you can still settle into a rhythm—you just accept that you’ll be pedaling until the top and get to work. The last 20 miles however was full of short and steep rollers that were just long enough and steep enough to be very mentally draining after so much saddle time.

-What equipment choices worked well?

I think the Gatorskin Hardshell is  probably the single most impressive piece of cycling equipment I’ve ever used. I hit some rocks (not gravel, straight up rocks) and holes that by all rights should have detonated a clincher tire, yet I never flatted the entire ride.

The compact was also a great choice. No, actually, it was the only choice. After the first road climb I thought maybe I should have gone with a 52/36 chainring combo instead of a 50/34. After the first gravel climb though, I realized I never would have gotten up it with a 36.

IMG_8311

The route passed through some beautiful Amish country

 

-What equipment would you change next year?

-I think next year I would definitely ride a cyclocross bike or an endurance road bike. Something like the GT Grade or a Fuji Altamira CX with bigger tire clearance, disc brakes and a lighter weight would have been perfect.

-25mm tires were fine, but next year I’m definitely going with 28mm or 30mm tires

-Lighter wheels. My winter wheels were chosen for their durability, but it didn’t take long before I started feeling the 2150g weight. Having seen the course, I would feel more comfortable using a carbon wheel next year.

- I’ll probably consider using a mid-cage SRAM WiFli rear derailleur with an 11-32 cassette instead of an 11-27, just to get that extra bail out gear.

 

-Would you do it again?

After I crossed the finish line I swore I would never do it again. But I woke up on Monday morning thinking about how I would train and set up my bike differently next time. So I guess the answer is yes, I will probably be on the start line next year.

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Crossing the finish line is usually the high point of the day for the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

-Any advice for someone thinking about doing it next year?

-Spend as much time climbing as you can! I didn’t this year, and I definitely paid for it. Not immediately, but later in the ride.

-Take full advantage of all the aid stations. I didn’t spend much time at the first two, only stopping to fill up on fluids and that was a big mistake which I blame on race day excitement. I should have stayed a few minutes longer to eat real food and stretch, but instead I ended up bonking around mile 60 and really suffering up Reddish Knob and the last part of the ride.

-Don’t take the “pro pee break” at mile 15. The only people who will stop are the pro’s and super strong riders, so you’ll find yourself alone very quickly, with nobody to pace up the climb.

-Run the widest tires your bike will fit, and make sure you have new brake pads on your bike

-Don’t start all loaded down with your own food. The aid stations are really well stocked, and had Honey Stinger gels and mini Clif Bars you could take with you. I would recommend just having 1 or 2 gels in your pocket at the start, just in case, and then loading up at the aid stations.

IMG_8341

Jeremiah Bishop won. Again. You really can’t put a price on home road advantage.

Brian’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo Prep

It’s that time of year again… time for one of our employees to put themselves to the test with Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. We’ve covered this event before in the past, where clothing buyer Zach, and others, have tackled this legendarily tough ride.

Starting in Harrisonburg, VA the ride covers about 105 miles and features over 11,000 feet of climbing. And just to make sure that it’s extra tough, the two biggest climbs are a combination of dirt and gravel.

It’s going to be a tough one, but well worth it to raise money for prostate cancer.

This year, Brian, our content and media writer, will be undertaking the challenge. He’s a fairly experienced cyclist, and has been training hard since May, after doing the Ronde van Vlaanderen Sportif in Belgium. He’s never done the ride before, but he says he’s feeling pretty good.

Find out more about his preparation and his equipment below.

alpine_loop_bike_prep_005

What made you want to do the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo?

Ever since I moved to North Carolina and came to work at Performance, I’ve heard stories about how hard it is. I love looking for long, challenging rides that really test my fitness and push my limits. As I’ve gotten older I’ve kind of lost interest in actual racing, but I still like to get competitive on a bike, and see how I stack up against other riders. Gran Fondo’s are a perfect opportunity to do that, whether you’ve raced in the past or are just getting into the sport.

What are you excited about?

Finally doing the Alpine Loop. I planned to do the Gran Fondo in both 2012 and 2013, but had to miss out for various reasons. Third time is a charm I guess. Beyond that, I’m looking forward to ending the season on a high note.

What are you feeling nervous about?

The big climbs. It was a busy summer for me, and I didn’t get a chance to go out to the mountains for some of those long, hour long climbs. Mostly this year I’ve done stuff like the Ronde with short, punchy, hills. I did a lot of Youtube trainer workouts for climbing though, so I guess on Sunday we’ll see if that was enough.

What bike will you be using?

Scattante Titanium. Anyone remember those? I was lucky enough to get my hands on one a few years back and it’s been my go to for long distance rides. Nice upright endurance geometry, and the titanium is excellent for handling road vibration.

I built it up with Campy 11-speed, and some burly handbuilt 32-spoke wheels.

Brian's titanium Scattante frame should be the right tool for the job

Brian’s titanium Scattante frame should be the right tool for the job

Did you make any special equipment changes for the Alpine Loop?

Yeah, absolutely. 100+ miles, 11K feet of climbing, gravel…that’s a long day on the bike and you need to be ready.

 

What equipment will you be using?

Brian's clothing and equipment choices for the Alpine Loop

Brian’s clothing and equipment choices for the Alpine Loop

 

There’s a lot of gnarly gravel sections. What repair items are you carrying?

tool-knoll

 

What else will you carry?

Even though the Gran Fondo will have food available, Brian is bringing plenty of his own, just in case

Even though the Gran Fondo will have food available, Brian is bringing plenty of his own, just in case

 

Thanks Brian, and good luck!

Check back next week for Brian’s Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo recap.

 

To learn more about how to prepare for your next big ride, check out these articles:

CX ’15: Ridley Cyclocross Bikes

We all love Ridley road bikes. You’d be hardpressed to find a faster bike than the Noah, or a bike that climbs better than the Helium. But what Ridley– and Belgium– is really known for are their cyclocross bikes. The carbon fiber Ridley X-Fire and X-Night are some of the most sought after CX bikes in the world, and even the aluminum X-Ride is still one of the best performing cyclocross bikes around.

Ridley X-Night 30

The choice of most of the world’s best cyclocross teams, and even used by the Lotto-Belisol profession road team for cobbled races, the Ridley X-Night 30 is one of the most advanced and fastest CX bikes out there. With a stiff, responsive carbon fiber frame with internal cable routing, a massive carbon fiber fork with internal disc brake cable routing, disc brakes, Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, an FSA ‘cross crankset, and 4ZA Cirrus deep section wheels, this is a straight up race machine that’s meant to go fast and put you on the top of the podium.

Ridley X-Fire 10

With a fast and lively racing set up, the Ridley X-Fire 10 is a great option for the serious racer who wants a top-level competition bike, but doesn’t mind hauling a few extra grams to save some cash. The Ridley X-Fire uses a more compliant 24-ton carbon lay up than the X-Night, but is still more than equal to anything else you’ll meet on the course. Like the X-Night, it’s built up with an Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, FSA ‘cross crankset, disc brakes, and deep section 4ZA Cirrus wheels. If you demand top performance from one of the most respected brands in the sport…and are look for a great value, it’s tough beat the Ridley X-Fire.

Ridley X-Ride 20

The Ridley X-Ride is the aluminum cousin of the X-Fire, but is still a serious, race-worthy bike in itself. The 7005 aluminum frame is super stiff, and much more durable than carbon fiber, and the 4ZA Oryx full carbon fork really helps to stiffen up the front end. Disc brakes, an all-new SRAM Rival 22 11-speed drivetrain, FSA ‘cross crankset, 4ZA Cirrus deep section wheels, and Clement Crusade PDX tires make the X-Ride one of the best values in a high-performance racing package around. If you’re looking for a first ‘cross bike, an value-orient upgrade, or an all-around bike for year round riding, the X-Ride is the way to go.

Check out our other CX ’15 articles

Build A Fall Cycling Wardrobe

fall-clothing-essentials

The weather isn’t cold….yet. But it’s getting there. Which means that now is the time to get your cycling wardrobe ready for the change. After all, fall is probably the best time to ride, and you don’t want to be stuck inside on that first beautifully cool day because you don’t have the right clothes.

The key to riding in fall is versatility through layering. Since the day can start off cold but heat up later, layers of clothing allow you to start the ride warm, then shed the small, easily packable outerlayers as you ride.

 

Here are 7 Fall Clothing Essentials:

 

1. Arm and Leg Warmers

These are probably the most versatile items in the cyclist’s arsenal. Warmers can help extend the temperature range of your shorts and jerseys well down into the 50’s and 60’s…lower if you run hot. Pair them with a vest or jacket to get even more versatility.

 

Arm warmers may be the most versatile clothing option you have

Arm warmers may be the most versatile clothing option you have

2. Vest

The vest is probably the second most versatile item you can own. Wear it over a short sleeve jersey when the day starts cool, pair with arm and leg warmers on colder days, or bring it along to layer over a jacket if the weather really turns.

They’re so light, offer so much protection, and roll up so small, there’s no reason not to bring it with you on every fall ride.

 

The vest is a close second. Small, packable, and protective

The vest is a close second. Small, packable, and protective

3. Jacket

As awesome as the vest and warmers are, they can only take you so far into the season. At some point, you’ll need some more protection. Fall isn’t quite thermal softshell territory yet (save the big guns for winter), but a thermal jacket can help you stay warmer as we get into later October and early November.

 

A wind jacket is essential as it gets later into the season

A wind jacket is essential as it gets later into the season

4. Full Finger Gloves

Keep those digits warm. There’s nothing worse on a ride than having cold fingers (except for maybe cold feet). So keep them warm by wearing some good, full finger gloves. A decent long finger glove can keep your fingers warm in brisk weather, without all the insulation you usually need in a big winter glove.

 

Full finger gloves offer plenty of protection without bulk

Full finger gloves offer plenty of protection without bulk

5. Baselayer

A baselayer serves two purposes in fall: 1) it gives you a little bit of extra warmth for cooler days—which can be a real blessing on cold mornings, and 2) it helps wick away sweat. The second part is important, because fall days can have you feeling too hot one minute, and too cold the next, so the baselayer helps control your core temperature.

 

Baselayers help control your core temperature, to keep you warm without overheating

Baselayers help control your core temperature, to keep you warm without overheating

6. Toe Covers

Since cycling shoes are usually the closest fitting shoes most people have, there’s not enough room to wear a thicker wool sock. Instead, most cyclists opt for the overshoe or toe warmers to keep their feet warm on cooler rides. The big advantage of toe warmers is that they don’t completely cover all the vents, so your foot can still vent some extra heat. If the day really warms up, they’re small enough to fit easily in a jersey pocket.

 

Toe covers keep toes warm, but are easy to remove and pack down small

Toe covers keep toes warm, but are easy to remove and pack down small

7. Headband

This is an ear saver when rides start on cooler mornings. It helps keep the cold wind off your forehead and ears, but doesn’t make you overheat like a full skullcap might. As the ride rolls on and the day warms up, you can just pull over and take it off. They roll up so tiny you might even lose it in your jersey pocket afterwards.

 

The headband is an excellent item for early morning starts

The headband is an excellent item for early morning starts

 

Did we miss any essentials? Let us know in the comments.

Real Advice: 4 Fall Ride Essentials

As the summer draws to a close, the kinds of riding most of us do changes too. For some a long summer of training and racing has left the legs feeling fairly torched and ready for a rest with slower, leisurely rides. For others, the cooler temperatures mean that it’s now more comfortable to put in those long, big mile days in the saddle.

No matter how you ride this fall though, here are 4 things you shouldn’t leave the house without.

1. Complete Repair Kit

In most parts of the country, fall is a pretty rainy time of year. That means that there’s lots of extra stuff on the roads that can give you a flat, and rain and road grit can take a bigger toll on your chain.

While we normally eschew the seat wedge during the summer and roll with a minimal flat kit, during the fall and winter we embrace it, and stuff it with:

A full repair kit is a must for fall riding

A full repair kit is a must for fall riding

 

2. Lights

No matter what time it is when we leave the house for a ride, we always bring some emergency lights this time of year.

Small, lightweight LED’s are easy to affix to your bars and seatpost, or fit easily in a pocket. Having a front and rear light can help you stay visible in traffic when it gets dark, when the sky is overcast, or the weather turns bad.

Small LED lights, like these Blackburn lights, are lightweight and easy to attach

Small LED lights, like these Blackburn lights, are lightweight and easy to attach

 

3. Vest / Jacket

A packable wind jacket or vest will roll up small and easily fits into a jersey pocket. This is a September-April essential for us, since the weather can change quickly and you never know when you might need it.

A vest is a great option for warmer or windy days when the primary concern is keeping the core warm. They also roll up super tiny, so they take up minimal pocket room when you take them off.

Jackets are a better option for days that a very windy, have a chance of rain, or when you’ll be doing climbs that involve long descents. They are a little bulkier, but the fuller protection and wind/water-resistant fabrics will provide more complete protection against the elements.

A packable wind jacket or vest can help you be prepared for changeable weather

A packable wind jacket or vest can help you be prepared for changeable weather

 

4. Cash

Cards are great, but cash is still king. If you’re going for a long ride into the country, there are fewer better pit stops during a ride then stopping at a roadside produce stand for some harvest-fresh apples, cider, or other treats. Not only are they healthier than most snacks we eat on the road, but are super fresh and usually only for sale for a few short weeks.

Carrying some cash with you is ensures you'll always be ready for a pit stop

Carrying some cash with you is ensures you’ll always be ready for a pit stop

 

What do you carry when you ride?

Tell us in the comments.

 

Last Minute Prep: Getting Ready For That Big Ride

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Have you signed up for a Gran Fondo or charity ride? Now is the time of year when most of those rides are coming up, so it’s important to be prepared. If you’re like us, you’re probably starting to get down into your final week or two of preparation.

Remember, it’s the little details that can undo us. Things that may seem harmless when off the bike: a slightly off-center stem, a slight creak from the bottom bracket, picking the wrong flavor of gels, a hill coming sooner than you expected, etc… can all become issues that seem monumental by mile 50– enough so that it can get into your head and begin to impact your performance.

To head off such calamity,  follow our checklist below.

After all, cycling is like life. Taking care of small details now leads to successful outcomes later.

 

1. Get In One Last Big Ride

The weekend before your event, try and do one last ride that’s at least 75% of the distance you’ll need to do. And make sure you do it wearing the clothes you plan on riding in, and with your bike set up how you will be riding it. This will be your big chance to test everything out and make any changes.

Hopefully you’ve been training for at least 8 weeks beforehand and are fully prepared. This last ride is to get some last miles in the legs and check your fitness level to help to determine pacing for the event itself.

Getting in some last big miles the weekend before will give you a change to test your equipment

Getting in some last big miles the weekend before will give you a change to test your equipment

2. Rest Up

The week leading up to the event itself, rest up. Try to go for a ride every day, but just do some gentle, small ring spinning for short distances. This will help keep your legs limber and preserve your fitness, but will also keep you rested so you feel fresh and ready come game time.

Going for easy spins the week before your event will keep your legs limber and preserve fitness

Going for easy spins the week before your event will keep your legs limber and preserve fitness

 

3. Prepare Your Bike

Is your bike tuned up? Is your gearing right? Do you need to change out tires or add more padding to your bar tape? The week before the event, either spend a few evenings fine tuning your bike, or take it to a Performance Bicycle shop and ask them to do a quick tune up (you might want to call ahead for lead times).

Don’t do anything drastic though like change out your saddle, try a new pair of shoes, or change your stem length or bike fit. Now is NOT the time to try something new. Even if you invested in an upgrade, roll with what you have until after your event (unless it’s new wheels or tires). You don’t want to realize at mile 35 of a 100 mile ride that the new saddle you bought isn’t really working out.

Don’t put it off until the night before. If something goes wrong, you’ll want plenty of time to fix it.

Getting your bike tuned up before the ride can help you feel more prepared the day of your event

Getting your bike tuned up before the ride can help you feel more prepared the day of your event

4. Study The Course And Elevation Profiles

Get to know the course beforehand. Do you know where the turns are? Do you know when the big climbs are? You don’t have to memorize everything, but you should be familiar enough with the route to know what to expect. If there’s a cue-sheet you can download, print it out and bring it with you. If you have a GPS or cycling computer, see if you can find the course map on Strava or Garmin and load it on your computer.

You can also go old school Pro and use a piece of tape on the stem to write down any significant areas of the course on it.

For Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, we’ll be using a Garmin GPS and a piece of tape on the stem to note at what mileage the big climbs start at (and where they end).

Getting familiar with the course profile and climbs can help you feel more prepared

Getting familiar with the course profile and climbs can help you feel more prepared

 

5. Prepare the Night Before

The morning of an event is always a hectic one. Between dressing, eating, getting to the event, sign in and getting to the start line, there’s a lot to take care of.

Make it easy on yourself, and do as much as you can the night before.

-Tires inflated

-Chain cleaned and lubricated

-Lights (if needed for early AM start) affixed to bike

-Clothing laid out

-Food flavors and types carefully selected

-Jersey pockets / seatwedge pre-packed

-Food, tools, tube, pump, route cue sheet, etc…

-Phone and cycling computer fully charged

-Water bottles pre-filled

-Drink mix flavors carefully selected

-Breakfast pre-made and ready to eat

-Alarm set for at least 2 hours before start (to give you some time just in case)

Laying out all your food and equipment the night before can save you precious time in the morning

Laying out all your food and equipment the night before can save you precious time in the morning

WANT TO LEARN EVEN MORE? CHECK OUT THE ARTICLES BELOW:

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