Monday, February 13, 2012

Tips for Winter/Spring Riding

If you live in the northers hemisphere like I do, you know that winter and spring riding can be an adventure. You really never know what you are going to encounter out on the roads. I have ridden in rain, snow, hail, temperatures below 25*, gravel, and even crashed on my share of ice. Every year I have gotten a little better at dressing for the weather, and now feel like I have finally figured out a comfortable setup for winter riding. I will say it took a lot of freezing rides to get things figured out :).

This is something new I tried this year, but it is probably my new favorite cycling tool hand down! Yes fenders make your sweet road or TT bike look a little goofy, but their ability to keep the water off you can't be matched. I love my fenders! I use a fender that is a quick on off setup. If I am heading out the door and it looks like it is going to rain, it only takes me 2 min to put my fenders on my bike. Most of the time I find myself simply leaving them on. Besides keeping you dry they also help keep dirt off of your clothes and the back of your bike. Currently I use the SkS race blade fender.

Dry Feet
This is something that has taken me a while. But I now think I have finally found a solution that works for me. I wear a combination of 3 things on my feet in the winter. The first is a wool sock. Wool wicks moisture but it also has the ability to hold some heat even when wet. As far as keeping your feet dry, I have tried everything. I have even tried wrapping my feet in plastic bags before putting booties over them and somehow water still seems to get in(sometimes it is from sweating, and soaking your feet from the inside out). What I have finally found that works is wearing two sets of booties. Yes it sounds a bit odd, but this is what I do. First I slip on a Neoprene bootie that is very thick and holds heat. Then on top of that I pull on another bootie that is waterproof, windproof and breathable. The second bootie is not thick but it helps block the wind and water out. So far the longest i have gone is 2.5 hours in the pouring rain this year, but for those 2.5 hours my feet stayed warm and did not get wet. Any thick neoprene bootie works. The waterproof one that I use is the Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier WXB, and I am very happy with it.

Covering your core

This for me was the most expensive part of winter riding. I always wondered if the more expensive jackets performed better in harsh conditions. I never wanted to spend a ton of money in the past so I would always buy one of those neon yellow jackets and just put lots of layers on underneath. This year I finally Bought a nicer cycling Jacket and it was worth every penny I spent on it. Even in temperatures below 30* it preforms great. It is waterproof, windproof, and still breathes. When I am climbing I zip it down about a third to let some heat out. On flats and downhills I zipp it completely up to hold in the heat. Underneath this jacket I wear a very thin long sleeve moisture wicking shirt, then a little bit thicker layer (depending on how cold it is, usually less than 30*). with my fenders being first, this is my second favorite winter riding tool. The Jacket I use is the Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell JKT.

They are big and goofy looking, but they keep your hands toasty warm and dry. If it is 43* or below I won't ride without my lobster gloves. If it gets above this temperature I wear my all time favorite running glove from manzella the hatchback.

Scull Cap
This really can be any thin beanie. You just need to make sure it is thin enough to fit underneath your helmet. My favorite one to wear is a red beanie that I received at the onion man triathlon many years ago. Wearing something on your head helps a ton! Without it I notice my head gets cold fairly quickly.

Covering your legs

As long as my feet are warm, my legs never really bother me. It is probably because this is the part of your body that is working the hardest, and generating heat. I rotate between a pair of fleece lined bib tights and some pearl izumi cycling pants that pull over your bib shorts. Both work great and both keep me warm. Tights that are cycling specific do work a little better than running tights because they are designed to block out more wind.

When the Snow Piles up
Sometimes mother nature has other plans and no matter how hard to try a ride is just not going to happen. I have gotten better about riding my trainer this year. One thing that has made a world of difference for me, is watching something that motivates me. Me neighbor loaned me the 2007 tour on DVD and it has been awesome. My rule is I can't get off the trainer until they finish their stage. No matter how much I am suffering I watch the video and realize how much I need to pick it up. Nothing like watching the best in the world to motivate you to stick with it.

Yes I wear a lot of pearl Izumi stuff, but I am not sponsored by them. I buy all the stuff. Really other brands make very comparable products that work just as well. I am just telling you specifically what I wear :).

My supporters for 2012

I am excited for the 2012 season to start getting under way, but I would like to start the year by introducing you to the companies that support me. They make it possible for me to do what I do. The thing I love about my sponsors is that their products or services are all things that I used even before pursuing a relationship with them. If a company is listed on my blog or website it means that they have products that I use and believe in. If you ever have any questions about the products my sponsors make, don't hesitate to ask me. I promise I will give my honest opinion.

After my 2011 season ended with an injury, I was forced to take a long break from training. During that break, I realized I needed to be more scientific in my approach to training. I needed to make sure that I am balancing all three sports, monitoring my fatigue, and making sure that I am not doing too much or too little. It was then I started looking to try out many different training logs. The one that stood out in every aspect was Training Peaks. Simply stated I love training peaks! It allows me to analyze pretty much every aspect of my training. The integration of all 3 sports and the compatibility with different training devices (Garmin, Timex, Power tap, etc) stands above the rest. I collect a lot of data during training (HR, power, Speed, Candace, pace, elevation etc.); their software not only helps you analyze all this data, but it helps you apply it towards future workouts. Covering more than just workouts, Training Peaks gives you the ability to track your diet, daily stress, fatigue, and many other factors. After using Training Peaks on my own for a while I decided to approach them. I am more than thrilled to be working with training peaks for 2012 and hope to keep working with them for a long time.

Blue Seventy
I wear Blue Seventy for some very simple reasons. Their products are very comfortable and very fast. Somehow they manage to lead the water in performance and still have some of the most comfortable equipment out there. In 2008, I did my first triathlon and raced in my first Blue Seventy wet suit. To this day, I still race in a blue seventy wetsuit and couldn’t be happier. I was even more excited when they released a line of triathlon apparel a couple years ago. In short I love their apparel! It does not matter if I am wearing their one piece kit or the two piece. They are very comfortable and very fast. I never worry that I am loosing time in my swims due to equipment, because I know Blue Seventy is the leader in swim performance.

Fitness Fanatics
Fitness Fanatics has been there for me since the day I began triathlons. Robin and her crew are always willing to go above and beyond to help anyone that walks in the door. They will not sell you a bike that does not fit or will not work for you. As a beginner triathlete, I had many questions (some smart and others not so smart) that the crew at Fitness Fanatics always happily answered. Their answers were always honest, even if that meant telling me I don’t need to buy a certain product that day. To this day, I still have lots of questions and their staff is still just as willing to help. I am very happy to be working with Fitness Fanatics.

Core and strength work is something that is very important to any athlete's training schedule; it has benefits no matter what sport you are participating in. I was introduced to TRX during one of my classes at EWU. At first, I was a bit skeptical of it but after doing my first 1 hour session of
TRX I knew it was something that I wanted to integrate into my own training. I love the fact that core stability is a huge emphasis even when doing strength based movements. Suspension training gives my core a workout that isn’t quite like anything else. It allows me to get in a quick but solid workout, helping spend my time more efficiently. Even my parents, who do not compete as athletes, are using it now. TRX is great for anyone and all levels of fitness. If you are not sure about it, just go give it a try.

Runner's Soul Spokane
Runner's Soul is where I work, and I would not be able to do what I do without them. Their willingness to work with my schedule goes above and beyond. There are not many employers that would give an athlete the flexibility that they give me. Training as a professional triathlete takes lots of time, but for most pro’s they still need a job to pay for things. Knowing I have flexibility takes quite a bit of stress out of my day. If you live in Spokane and need some running shoes you really should stop by.

My introduction to long course triathlon was a giant bonk. It was my first half ironman and probably one of the hardest experiences I have ever had. I learned a big lesson that race on how important nutrition really is. It will make or break your race. Why do I use GU products? In a simple answer I use Gu products because they work for me. I have tried many different products and no matter what I try, I always come back to GU products. GU Energy has been a leader in nutrition for quite some time. They have set a standard that other companies try to keep up with, and continue to innovate at a pace faster than the rest.