Join in on the Winter Woolies ride!
Written by Mona Will - November 2018
The “Winter Woolies” ride will begin December 1st and will be offered twice a month on Saturdays through mid to late March. The rides will leave at 10A from different starting points each time. The rides will typically be 8-15 miles round trip and at a leisurely pace. There will be a mid-ride beverage/snack break or on a rare occasion, the beverage/snack will be at the end of the ride. This ride is open to men, women, and children when accompanied by an adult.
The impetus for the ride is to encourage people that would typically hang their bikes up at the end of September, to give cold weather riding a try. I remember being that person that thought riding outdoors stopped at the end of September. I also remember wondering why any sane and logical person would ever consider riding outdoors in the cold and snow. It’s quite simple why I tried it; I wanted to have more contact with the riding friends that I had made in the spring and summer.
Bicycling Magazine listed some reasons why riding in the cold is good for you. I have paraphrased some of the reasons because it started getting all technical and scientific. Here’s the simple version.
- You get stronger. Winter is classic base-training time. Because you’re wearing heavier clothes, carrying more gear, and often using a heavier bike (like a cyclocross bike, mountain bike, or fat bike), you’re getting stronger and building muscular endurance in the process.
- You get smugger. You’ll find yourself humble bragging all over the place about how you’re braving the elements while others forsake their winter fitness. Don’t feel bad: All those cold outside rides will also make you legitimately tougher in the face of bad weather. When it’s a little chilly and rainy come spring, you’ll be totally comfortable while your still-hibernating buddies shiver in their gaiters.
- You incinerate calories on and off the bike. When the temperatures fall, your metabolism rises to keep you warm and you burn more calories. However, studies suggest that the cold-induced calorie-burn boost washes out after you warm up and start exercising. That’s likely true when you’re running or doing full-body workouts, but that winter warm up effect is less pronounced out on the open road where your upper body is exposed and relatively quiet.
- You look at cycling in a new light. Ice, snow, and bitter cold can keep you off your usual wide-open road routes, and that’s okay. You’ve spent plenty of time on them and will again. The beauty of winter riding is it forces a bit of creativity. You may find yourself riding through an industrial park, clover leafing around the outskirts of your neighborhood, or riding towpaths or rail trails that are too busy to enjoy during peak season, but are blissfully abandoned during the winter months—and loving every minute.
- You find peace and solitude. That part we just mentioned about the abandoned paths and trails? There’s a special beauty in not having to ring your bells and call “on your left,” or worry about a ton of traffic. You’ll find that you have a front row seat to Mother Nature’s most beautiful displays of glistening ice-encrusted trees, misty cornfields, and pastel morning light on freshly fallen snow. Maybe not surprisingly, research shows you’re also less likely to succumb to the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when you regularly exercise outdoors.
- You become a master layerer. Cycling in the cold is both an art and a science. Riding through the winter makes you a Jedi Master at covering your core, extremities, and phalanges in that are just right for 35 degrees with low humidity and sunshine, as well as 24 degrees with heavy clouds and high humidity
- You’ll be ready to sprint into spring. When you ride all winter long, you are bananas for the spring. Once you shed your underlayer, base layer, jacket, booties, arm warmers, winter gloves, and 28mm tires, you will be so ready to rage
- You’ll need fewer sick days. Research shows that regular exercisers are about half as likely to get sick compared to their couch-loving peers. You also earn bonus health points for being out on your bike and away from indoor environs that get so germ-infested this time of year.
If at least one or two of those reasons don’t seem enticing, then at the very least think about your bike. It’s been your steady companion for months on end. Never complained once about the miles you two did or didn’t put in. Never once told you that you couldn’t ride or that it just didn’t want to go. So why would you abruptly move the bike into a cold garage or stuff it into a corner of the house, completely ignoring it for another 5 months?
When I was a young girl and it was winter time, my mom basically kicked me and my sister out of the house at least one day on the weekend. She would say “You girls need to go outside and get some fresh air. Put on your winter woolies and go play.” This ride is kinda like that. We are going out to “play” on our bikes. This isn’t a “training” ride (in case you hadn’t figured that out yet) nor is it about speed. We are out to get fresh air in our lungs, sunshine on our faces, legs pumping, and do a bit of socializing too.
Those reasons and more are why it’s time to try some cold weather riding starting December 1st. We will post on the club’s website, newsletter, and Facebook page, dates, times, and location of where the ride starts. We will be offering tips of how to dress properly for cold weather, proper inflation for tires, and who knows what other wise and interesting things we’ll come up with.
Let’s make cold weather fun again, together.