The Daily Grind: The Cure for the Winter Blues
In my younger days I excelled at riding in the worst weather NYC could throw at me. Rides with temperatures in the teens - before accounting for the windchill - and rides where drivetrains completely froze from a mixture of snow and freezing rain. Looking back on those rides I cannot help but question my sanity. These days I'm not sure that I am any wiser but I am certainly older and with a more finely honed sense for self-preservation I am more likely to be cranking on the trainer than riding by myself on roads covered with an inch or two of snow. But even with my penchant for an annual Zwift century spending several hours per week on the trainer can be a mind numbing experience.
Thankfully there is a cure for the winter trainer blues: trail riding. Cyclocross season may be long gone in the rear view mirror but with some 40c WTB tires dropped on my Garneau Steeple-XC there is no need for a mountain bike to tackle the majority of the trails around New York City. Speaking of those trails: Six Mile Run in New Jersey is one of our favorite destinations but in the opposite direction we have absolutely fallen in love with the trails on the Eastern tip of Long Island where we have nicknamed our weekends spent off-road as "Shredfests."
The beauty of these shredfest weekends is simple: 25 degrees can be fairly miserable on the road even with our favorite winter cycling kit. And while we'll take outdoor miles over Zwift any day of the week with most NYC cyclists stuck grinding out and back on 9W (when the GWB is actually open to pedestrian traffic) training outdoors can have its own mind numbing quality in this weather. But that same 25 degrees is actually quite pleasant on the trails with tree cover blocking any wind and lower speeds on the bike insuring minimal impact from windchill.
Beyond the comfort factor we find trail riding to be pretty great training: on the right trails there are plenty of opportunities for crit-like accelerations as well as great work on bike handling after a winter with too much time stuck on a stationary trainer. Follow a few hours on the trails up with some R&R outside the crowded confines of New York City and you have a perfect respite from the winter training blues. This past weekend's shredfest was the perfect example of why we have fallen in love with riding trails in winter. If you have a cyclocross bike sitting in your apartment waiting for the 2018 CX season to roll around we highly encourage giving it a try.