Don’t Let Your Season End.

We’re in the process of figuring out exactly what we want Axletree to be, and what we want Axletree to do.  That is a slow, evolving process.  But one goal we all agree on is the importance of supporting cyclists and working to build a local cycling culture.  That leads to today’s topic.

I was exercising this morning, and someone at the gym asked me, “so how was your cycling season this year?”  My answer: “it’s not over.”  Today’s post is one of encouragement.  Don’t let your cycling season end too soon.  Even in Illinois, even with a bad winter, you can ride all year.  YOU CAN RIDE ALL YEAR.  YOU SHOULD RIDE ALL YEAR.

It doesn’t take much commitment; here are a few suggestions:

1.  Ride Outside:  Cycling is an active sport–in riding, you ‘burn a lot of calories.’  That means, literally, that your body converts stored calories (energy) into motion and heat.  Our bodies being relatively inefficient, you actually use more energy generating heat than you do generating forward progress.  In summertime, we spend our effort trying to stay cool.  In winter, you don’t have to work at staying cool…you can layer, and be very warm riding, no matter what the weather conditions are.  Generally speaking, the simplest rule of thumb is this: if you’re chilly standing still before you start riding, you’ll probably be dressed appropriately for the ride.  Not freezing, not warm…just a bit chilly.  A good base layer and a good windbreaker do an amazing job of keeping you warm.  There’s much more to staying warm than this simple rule, but it is the first huge step.

2.  Stay Involved:  Do you want to learn more about riding outside?  About layering and proper clothing for warm cycling in the winter?  Do you want to meet other people with interests in cycling?  Stay involved.  Visit your local bike shop and find out what events they have coming up…and attend them.  If you live in the greater midwest or have plans of traveling to the Chicagoland area around November 1, stop by North Central Cyclery–one of the sponsors of Axletree–for their 2012 Winter Clinic and learn about winter bike maintenance, clothing, and similar issues of interest to cyclists.  Staying involved with other riders also gives you motivation.  On a cold Saturday morning, do you really want to roll out of bed at 6:30am?  No.  But the allure of warm covers is far less when you know your friends will be standing in a parking lot, waiting for you to show up so they can ride.

3.  Get Fatbiking: Do you want to have more fun than anyone has a right to have on a bike?  Get a fat bike.  Last year was my first year fatbiking, and riding in the winter was ridiculously fun.  Insanely fun.  Again, check out your local bike shop (or check out my local bike shop) and find out about the fatbike scene.  I may be biased, as a customer of NCC, but they’ve got a great fatbike section, as well.

4.  Even If You Can’t Get Fatbiking, Don’t Stop Riding:  Let’s say you can’t swing a fatbike this year.  Understood.  That doesn’t mean you can’t ride.  Even in the dead of winter, more days than not, the roads are clear and it isn’t snowing or raining.  You may not have a regular Monday/Wednesday/Saturday schedule, but get out there and ride when you can.  And try to ride with others, so you stay motivated.

5.  If All Else Fails, Ride Inside:  They make these thingies called trainers.  Your bike goes on them.  They work with road bikes, cross bikes, mountain bikes…all sorts of bikes.  They make it possible for you to ride inside.  No new clothing or gear needed…save for the trainer.  For a relatively minimal investment (much less than the cost of a health club membership), you can ride to your heart’s content all winter long.  Even if you choose this option…you should still see #2.

Don’t let your season end.  Stay moving. You’ll be stronger, happier, and healthier in 2013, if you simply commit to maintaining your cycling this winter.  The math is simple:

  1. Get properly kitted for winter riding.
  2. Ride all year long.
  3. Build new friendships and keep up old ones.
  4. Benefit physically, socially, and psychologically.

There…wasn’t that easy?

no?

Ok, let’s approach this from a different tack.

Check out this MRI scan of the thighs of an active man in his seventies versus a sedentary man nearly the same age – both in contrast to an active 40-year-old.

Anyone else hungry for some meatloaf?

Get out there and ride.

(Thanks to Dr. Nevdal at Northern Rehab for the…shall we say…highly motivating MRI scans.  Those are not his patients, by the way.)

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