Winter Cycling: The Triathletes Complete Guide

Some triathletes and cyclists in cold climates train outdoors as much as possible in winter, while others go to a health club or gym.

Although outdoor riding may not always be possible due to winter weather, an indoor trainer or roller is the next best thing. This is because the trainer or roller keeps you on your bike.

So, for indoor bike training, ranking the options would go as follows:

Winter Cycling Options

1 . Stay Outside Year-Round

For cyclists in the north, winter presents two challenges: temperature and road conditions. You can dress for the cold, but the only way to safely ride on ice and snow is to make sure your bike is equipped for it. Be aware that roads may be narrower due to snow, and that salt used to melt ice can create soft spots in the road.

The arrival of the fat tyre bike has allowed many cyclists to extend their biking into the fourth season. Fat tyre bikes are a different type of bike altogether and require different considerations. They are often made by manufacturers who specialize in this type of bike. If you have the budget and the space to store it, getting a good entry-level fat tyre bike like the Cannondale CAAD can be a great way to stay active all winter long. When riding in the winter, we usually focus on time rather than speed or distance.

No matter what you want to do, make sure you are prepared by dressing appropriately for the weather conditions. This includes both being properly insulated from the cold and having good footing to avoid slipping on ice. Wear layers of clothing, including an outer layer to block the wind, a middle layer for insulation, and a base layer to wick away moisture. You can adjust the number of layers you’re wearing depending on how cold it is. Don’t forget to protect your head and hands from the cold as well. A good pair of all-weather gloves are a worthwhile investment.

2. Spin Classes

Free photo people doing indoor cyclingTriathletes often swear by spin classes in the winter, as they provide leg strength and keep your heart rate high for an extended period. The sense of community in a spin class can be a motivator as well – where else can a husband and wife who might be of two different fitness levels sit side-by-side and enjoy the same workout? We are fans of spin classes for the fat they burn and the sweat they can give you. We also like that they require no investment in additional equipment, just a health club membership (which we know can add up quickly). Keep in mind, however, that a spin class can be highly-dependent on the instructor, and some instructors are a better fit for an individual than others. In the end, a spin class is what you make of it, and if you want it to be an “A” workout, you can make it so.

If you decide to look at spin classes, try a few and settle on one or two that fit your style. Find an instructor who gives you the challenge level you are working for and know that some classes focus more on intensity while others focus on endurance.

Get Your Own Spin Bike

If you want to bring the spin class to your home, you should invest in a spin bike. This will cost you anything from about £100 up to about £2000 if you go for the Commercial Studio Cycle with touch screen at about £1,600 or even more depending on the quality, but it can help you stay motivated to work out more often. Review the best stationary and spinner bikes before you make your purchase. We recommend the Sole Fitness lineup of high-tech indoor bikes. They are adjustable and feel like real road bikes.

3. Inside on a Trainer

We like to cycle outdoors in winter and go to spin classes, but we’ve been gravitating towards working out at home on an indoor bike trainer lately. A good cycling trainer is not cheap (a good-quality one like our favourite, the Cycleops Fluid 2, will start at just under £90), but if you use it regularly it will be an investment that you get high value. Set it up in your basement, or bring it into your living room when using it and then store it away again, and you will have brought a gym-quality workout to your home. The best part is that you are training on your own bike, so you are building strength in the same posture that you will be racing in. This way, you will be familiar with your bike and clipped-in into the same pedals when you’re racing.

If you want to make your trainer workout more effective, we recommend using a cycling DVD to help you stay focused and on track. There are several different series available, but if we could only pick one, it would be the Spinervals DVD because of the variety of workouts and Coach Troy’s effectiveness. Choose 2-3 different workouts that you think you might be able to do regularly, including one longer one for fat-burning days, a shorter one for when you have less time, and one high-intensity workout for those signature workouts. Each DVD is given a difficulty score (10 being the highest) to help you choose which ones are right for you.

The smartest new trend in bike trainers is the exploding smart home trainer market. Some of the most popular brands in this sector are Peloton, Wahoo, and Zwift. These trainers offer great advantages for home users who want to be able to train with precision and, in some cases, connect with other users from around the world. If you want to learn more about this exciting new trend, be sure to check out our piece on it.

Obstacles To Training Outdoors

Biking outdoors when it is cold is not pleasant

Do you or anyone you know ski on snow? Do you think it’s unpleasant? Of course not! There are all kinds of activities we enjoy doing outdoors during winter, and one of them is cycling.

It’s virtually impossible to stay warm when biking in the winter

But for most of us, that’s probably overdoing it. Most people believe that the hardest part about winter cycling is staying warm when in reality, it is actually keeping cool. When cycling, your body produces a lot of heat and new cyclists usually make the mistake of overdressing, leading to them sweating excessively. The key to enjoying winter cycling is learning how to Dress to get rid of the excess heat and sweat. Extreme measures need to be taken when the temperature dips below zero, but for most people, that is too extreme.

Winter cycling is dangerous

Icebike conducted a survey of winter cyclists and found that only slightly over 4% had ever required medical attention for a winter cycling accident. 70% had never been injured at all. The most significant safety-related measure for winter cycling is to be sure you have adequate reflective clothing and bike lights, how many times have you been driving and seen cyclists wearing either black or dark clothing because they look cool!!!!  BE seen and be safe.

There is no value added by cycling outdoors in the winter

The best way for a triathlete to train for cycling is to continue to do it outdoors. The fresh air and scenery are enjoyable, and it is usually drier in the winter which helps keep the bike clean. Riding in falling snow is peaceful and can be very challenging, like climbing a steep hill. It can be tough, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Cycling Gear Necessary For Winter Training

When temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s, you’ll need different gear than when temperatures are in the 30’s. This is because temperatures in the fall season warm up as the day progresses.

One way to make sure you can keep biking during cold weather is to have the appropriate gear.

During the fall and mild winter temperatures, arm and leg warmers are helpful because you can pull them off when you warm up. For example, if you are doing a 40-mile ride and the temps rises, your body heat increases, so you shed the warmers and stick them in your jersey pocket or in your saddle bag.

The long-sleeve base layer is a shirt that you wear underneath your other clothes to keep you warm in Cold weather.

Your long-sleeve jersey must fit snugly so that it does not flap in the wind.

If you are worried about staying warm during a long ride in colder temperatures, you should wear cycling bibs with long legs, or pull some cold-weather tights over bib shorts or cycling shorts.

In the fall, you can get away with wearing a cycling vest to keep your core warm. However, as the season temperatures start to drop, you will want to switch to a long-sleeve cycling jacket.

The cooler temps of an early morning ride in the fall require shoe covers to keep your feet warm. As winter sets in, you will want to begin using shoe booties.

While fingerless gloves may work for cycling in warm weather, they will not work for winter. This is because the fingers are the most important part of the body to keep warm in winter. Therefore, winter cycling gloves are necessary.

For mild cold temperatures, a helmet liner works well. For people who often feel overheated in the head area but want to avoid cold ears, ear covers serve a similar purpose. For extreme cold conditions, a cycling mask is likely desired.

Your feet, like your hands, are more susceptible to cold temperatures. Having a good pair of winter cycling socks makes a big difference.

Cycling Seasons

Recovery is crucial, so spending some time on the trainer or taking it easy on the bike will actually help you have a stronger season next year. Think about how your winter cycling will affect your overall fitness goals. If you did a triathlon in the fall, you may want to take some time off to recover. This will actually help you have a stronger season next year.

You should start training for your base cycling endurance about 4-5 months before you start racing. You should then add more intensive training plans at the right time.


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