This is my world of cycling and just a fun way for me to share my experiences, thoughts and joy I have for cycling. Thanks for visiting Cycle Jabber and good luck in your training! Dirk Friel

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Letter of the Week- The Winter Blues

I thought I'd share an e-mail I received this week from a young man in Germany who is searching for some winter training advice.

I am currently living in Germany as an exchange student and am planning to race here until I return to America in the summer. Unfortunately, Germany is a little colder than my home town back in the US. Therefore; I´m forced to ride indoors on my trainer, except for training at the local Velodrome every Wednesday. The problem I am facing is bordom. As you probably know, cyclists like adventure, and action. I enjoy riding and want to get a good base for the next season, but almost dread my hour/two hour trainer rides. Is there anything you can suggest to liven my winterbase training, or am I trapped until the sun comes out again?Thanks, MC

I love in Boulder, Colorado and we have been under a state of emergency due to all of the snow we have gotten lately. My point is... I feel your pain.

Here are the activities I rely upon during the winter months to stay active and motivated. By the way, guys live here who are preparing for the Tour de France and do the very same activities. One such rider is Michael Barry of T-Mobile.

-Cross Country ski- I sometimes combine workout modes and ride to the ski trails on my cross bike then ski afterwards. I also make it a family outing by meeting my family at the ski area after I ride up. You can do the same. Maybe ride to a trail head and then go snowshoe with your family.

-Cyclocross bike- This is a must for almost any road cyclist who lives north of Texas.
-Snowshoe- low impact and amazing workout
-Run- Take it easy. Ease into running if you have bad knees.
-Hike- go for long hikes. 3+hr hikes are great for cyclists.
-Weight lifting- pretty much a must for any cyclist who wasn’t a college football player.
-Ice skate- super workout and much like skate skiing.

Here are some tips on winter riding:
-Get a cross bike. This allows you to ride outdoors even when the roads are wet and snowy. I have done about 90% of my rides on my cross bike this December. Cross bikes can also be bought at pretty good prices. My Cannondale was $1200 retail.
-(A) I use a 12-26, 9-speed cassette
-(B) Get the biggest cross tires you can buy.
-(C) Get fenders for your bike- this will allow you to ride much longer when it is wet.
-(D) I love my compact crank with a 34-50 in the front.
-(E) I try to always ride with a power meter and it tends to be a great motivator for me to have a bit of structure even on the coldest rides.
-(F) I also love my top mount brakes. It can really help on single track or on step descents when you want as much weight on the back wheel as possible.

Get the right clothing-
-I have been using a Gortex jacket which is amazing in cold/wet conditions.
-One hard to find item is a helmet cover. If you plan to ride when it is wet and below 30F it is worth the effort to track one down.
-My booties are also hard to find. I have some weird ones I picked up from Pearl Izumi Japan. They aren't sold here in the US unfortunately but they are the best I have found for wet conditions. The biggest issue for me in booties is they need to be water proof more than insulated. As long as I am dry I am good to go. Another important factor which makes a bootie good or bad is the seal on your ankle/lower calf. This area needs to have some kind of strap to seal out the water.
-Gloves- Descente makes great winter gloves.
-Neck gator- life saver when it comes to cold descents.

If you do end up riding indoors you can certainly make it well worth your while by adding structure and a well thought out interval set . If you want to learn more about structured indoor workouts check out my winter indoor training plans at or read my "Workouts In a Binder for Indoor Cycling" book at

Get out there and have fun in the white stuff!


posted by Dirk at 3:25 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. I am an australian living in germany and finding it hard to motivate the kraut out of my system in germany. thanks for the tips. Schöne Grüße, A

12:31 PM


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