Silver Wheels Cycling Club, Inc. 

Bicycling For Recreation, Fitness, Fun, Learning and Advocacy


Winter Riding - Let it Snow

     Our 2016 riding season is officially over and the rides on the calendar count towards the 2017 mileage totals. It’s colder outside and fewer and fewer of us crazies are showing up on the rides. If you think you may want to keep cycling during the winter months, keep reading to find out some of your options.

     So, do you want to ride Outdoors or Indoors this winter? If you answered Outdoors, you know that winters in NE Ohio are cold and snowy, and you already know how to dress for cold weather. We are going to concentrate our outdoor cycling comments on icy conditions, getting your bike ready for the elements, and discussing winter riding skills rather than talking about your wardrobe. 

     Lets talk about “ice, ice baby”. Don't be like Ed and wash your car and bike at the car wash when the temperature is below freezing and then leave your bike on your trunk rack! A little warm soapy water in the garage, a rinse and a quick but thorough toweling off is the preferred method. If you really love your bike, there is always the bathtub method. (Guys, don’t use the good guest towels.)

     Black ice is very dangerous and has taken down many an experienced Silver Wheeler. Black ice is generally caused by a partial thaw followed by a deep freeze, as the melted ice water freezes before it can drain off the road and a thin layer of transparent black ice is formed. You can prepare for black ice by:

  • reducing your tire pressure, 
  • lowering your bike seat to get your center of gravity lower,
  • being aware of where and when black ice may be hiding,
  • avoiding sudden changes of direction, 
  • keeping a smooth pedaling motion, and
  • not using the front brake as loss of control of the front wheel is going to make it very hard to keep your bike upright. 

     Here is a short video of an English cyclist “pirouetting" on black ice.  The sun is behind the trees so the melting ice may have refrozen as the temperature fell.  

Ice Fall from Cycliq on Vimeo.

     Our next video will show you how to keep you bike clean (use wet lube!), how to winter proof your bearings, protect your paint job, carry winter roadside tools, and the importance of fenders or mudguards.

     Next, is a video to help you improve your outdoor winter riding skills, including tips for handling icy roads, wet roads, and group riding. To allow for more time to react, it is very important to scan the road ahead, slow down around corners and on descents, and leave more space between riders in winter group rides to avoid multiple bike pileups.

     Now, if you think cold is anything below 50 degrees you probably answered Indoors! You can always go to the gym and take a spin class or go to Florida and ride the Keys. But, if you want to stay in the comfort of your own home, we have a video to help you get started looking at indoor trainers and understanding the various choices.  

     For those cyclists that really want to take their indoor training to the next level, and are willing to spend a little money, there are some really cool options available. Zwift, for example, is a massive multiplayer online virtual cycling environment that lets you link your trainer (if compatible) to a computer and ride with people from all over the world. There is a $10 monthly charge after the free 14 day trial but you get to ride on four courses on the 2015 UCI World Road Race in Richmond, five routes on the 2016 Prudential Ride in London, and six courses on the fantasy island of Watopia. You can just hop on and ride, participate in structured group rides, race, or workout using different training modules all without having to worry about weather, traffic and stop signs. Club members that use Zwift on smart trainers swear by Zwift's effectiveness in making training fun. Our last video is a demo of a Zwift trainer race starring Jens Voigt, and yes he does tell his legs to shut up.

Use this link to see if your trainer setup will work on the Zwift software.

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