Winter Cycling - Yes, There Are Good Options!

5:30am.  The alarm goes off on my phone.  It is 17F and dark outside.  The hotel room feels so comfortable.  But it's time to get up and get going.

Spin Class / Cycling Bar. 15 minutes later, the snow and ice are crunching under my boots.  I walk into the Upcycle Studio in Boise, Idaho.

This place has been humming since 5am.  It's bright and welcoming -- a stark contrast with the freezing cold and darkness on the street.

30 minutes later I am sweating bullets.  The instructor is guiding the class through imaginary hills, mountains and valleys.  The imaginary wind blows hard at times.  She commands.  She jokes.  She sings.  She demands.

It is hard.  But it is kind of fun.  30 minutes later I am fully awake and drenched.  A brisk walk to my hotel.  It is starting to get lighter.

Shower, breakfast, Uber to the office and I am doing what I love -- high-tech marketing.

All in all, the spin class is great for exercising and staying in shape.  It is a good alternative for not being able to ride outside.  It gets your day going.

Some people love it.  I like it.  But it feels artificial.  Definitely can't substitute the road or the trail.  It is what it says it is, however.  A spin class.

There are also other options for winter cycling, such as lunch rides, trails, commutes, and indoor cycling.

Lunch Ride @ 25F.  There is first for everything.  I swapped my 28mm Continental 4 Seasons with 32mm winter knobby tires and hit the Greenbelt in Boise right by my office.

This was my first experience riding over ice and patches of snow.  It felt really awesome.  Somewhat liberating.  The same feeling of adventure when you hit a new trail or ride your first century.

Liberating.  Cold.  Fun.  Face is freezing.  [On a second thoughts, I need to buy a balaclava for the next time.]  Beautiful mountains covered with snow in the background.  A river with ducks and geese.

A beautiful bike path with snowbanks on each side.  Occasional people giving the look of "you are insane, man".  Occasional cyclists nodding in understanding.

It's actually fun once you get going.  25F + wind feels crisp, especially when you slow down or stop.  But it feels great as well.

I was dressed appropriately with layers, gloves, etc, so it worked well.

Conclusion: cold winter riding is fun when you have the right layers, equipment, and a knack for an adventure.

Winter Commuting.  It works really well in Northern California.  I did the whole commute thing over the last 6 years on a bike.   And when the office got moved to 38 miles away, I found a new way to cycle to work, which turned out to be a sum of a bike and a train ride.

It gave me a chance to combine the joy or riding with exercise and avoiding driving in terrible Bay Area traffic.

My new office in CA is only 4 miles away, so it is fun to ride to work in the morning and then hit the long route via hills after work.

It gets a little tougher with the rain, but plenty of people do it. You get the right gear and it becomes a routine.

Some employees in our Boise HQ commute to work when it is 17F outside, snow and ice.  Tons of respect for these folks.  I would probably do the same if I lived there.  That is another awesome adventure.

Winter Trail Riding.  This is something new for me.  Many people in Boise are obsessed with cycling, especially with mounting biking.

A handful of my colleagues do winter trail riding, even with snow and ice present.

As I am spending more time in Boise (and absolutely loving it), I finally broke the bank and bought my first real mountain bike.  It is a Santa Cruz Tallboy  and it is coming in next week.  I will write about my first winter ride once it is completed.

Finally, there is indoor cycling.  A combination of a smart trainer, Zwift, and TrainerRoad in my case.  It is a decent alternative to outdoors cycling when the weather gets bad.  I am not a huge fan of it, however.   It gets boring quickly, but I know a lot of people who are pretty passionate about Zwift and TrainerRoad.


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