After your Recovery Phase you should start your Base Building Phase. Base Building involves building cardiovascular endurance and increasing your volume – weekly miles and the length of your long workout. But, winter cycling presents a number of challenges – cold, wind and wet icy roads. If you follow these tips, you will get your mileage in as well as enjoy your rides.
Dress for the weather. You should be slightly cold at the start of your ride. As you get moving you will warm-up. Be careful not to over dress. Wear reflective clothes or bright colors, or use a light and reflectors. Winter days the sun is low and it gets dark very early. Wear glasses, sunglasses, yellow, orange or clear lenses will protect your eyes for foreign objects and the wind. Cover your head and ears. We loose more heat from our heads than from any other part of our body.
Hydrate and fuel during winter rides. Staying hydrated and fueled is just as important during the winter as during the rest of the year. Bonking on a freezing windy day is a lot worse than on a sunny summer afternoon. Use hot drinks or a Camelbak under your jacket. Use an insulating cover over your water bottles to keep your drink from freezing. If you use a Camelbak, blow into the tube after you drink to keep the end from freezing.
Winter rides should be conversational. Ride with a group, share the work and draft. Avoid hammering when the temperature drops below 50° F. Build base mileage. When it is extremely cold keep rides under 90 minutes. Start into the wind. You’ll warm-up faster and have the extra benefit of a tailwind on the way home. Keep stops short. Starting up again will increase the likelihood of getting cold and being unable to warm-up. Beware of Carbon Monoxide. Avoid traffic; cars produce more Carbon Monoxide during the winter. Carry two tubes. You don’t want to have to patch a tube in freezing weather. Watch out for ice. Black ice and corners that are in the shade are dangerous.
Take extra time to recover from your rides. Cold weather produces more stress and we need more time to recover from our workouts.