Something strange happens here in MN when the temperature climbs into the 40’s. All of a sudden, people come out of hibernation and are EVERYWHERE outside. Whereas we didn’t see anyone outside for most of the winter, all of a sudden the streets and paths are full of people cycling, walking, running and anything else that can be done outdoors.
40 must be the threshold. Sure, people ride outside all winter. Sure, people run outdoors all winter. But the masses are indoors, just waiting for a hint of spring. And when it arrives, the pent-up energy can’t be contained any longer. It’s great to see. It’s also funny to see people running (or riding) in shorts and a T-shirt when there’s snow on the ground and it’s only 40 degrees. And you’ve never seen skin so pale as now. Not a pretty sight. J
As we start riding outdoors in the early spring, we should keep a few things in mind with regard to clothing, roads, equipment and our bodies.
- Keep your extremities covered and warm.
- Fingers, toes, head and ears get cold easily.
- Wear gloves constructed with WindBlock or nylon facing.
- Wear booties over your feet
- And wear a skull cap under your helmet and/or a helmet cover.
Nothing can ruin an otherwise great ride more than being uncomfortably cold, so cover your fingers, toes and ears and you’ll feel warmer for more of your ride.
- The shoulders may be narrower than normal because of accumulated snow, trash or other gunk. So keep your eyes open and watch the road ahead of you. Any changes in your line should be made gradually. Don’t surprise riders near you or cars coming up behind you with sudden movements.
- There will be sand near the edges of the roads and on the shoulders. And as we all know, sand is very slippery. Roll smoothly through sand and keep your weight centered. Avoid turning on sand.
- There may be salt residue or other chemicals on the edges of the roads as well. While this doesn’t pose a riding threat, it can wreak havoc with your chain and other moving parts on your bike (as well as any exposed metal). The ideas scenario is to ride an MTB or cross bike until the roads are clear. If this isn’t possible, just be aware that your bike will require more TLC.
- Finally, the roads will likely have a significant amount of rocks and other sharp objects, including broken glass, etc. So keep your eyes on the road and avoid all you can. However, spring flats are common, so carry extra tubes and CO2 cartridges to be safe.
- As noted above, ride an MTB or cross bike until the rains wash the road surface and the street sweepers clean the sand and debris. If this isn’t possible, ride your “B” bike. If you own 1 bike, that’s fine. Simply clean and inspect after each ride.
We may have been training indoors all winter. Or maybe not. Either way, it’ll take time for our bodies to build the endurance to spend time in the saddle. With this in mind:
- Ride easier rather than harder for your first few rides. Get used to being outdoors in the wind and in the hills.
- Ride shorter rather than longer also. We likely are not in the same cycling condition as we were at the end of last season, and our connective tissue will take some time to adjust to longer rides and the challenges of terrain and wind. Allow your knees time to build strength and the ability to resist overuse injuries, and the rest of your body (mainly back and neck) to get used to cycling position.
- Depending on your winter training, start out with short intervals and long recoveries. It’ll be a long season, so don’t push too hard to get back in peak condition right away. Attempting to do too much too soon is a recipe for sickness or injury.
Make this your best spring training season ever by being smart about the way you train and by being prepared. The thermometer just hit 40, so I’ve gotta get on my bike. Add your comments below, then you do the same………get dressed then GET OUT AND RIDE!