How to Winter Ride in Iowa
by Linh Ta - Velorosa Team Member & Blogger
Here in Iowa, we get to enjoy all four seasons – includingthe winter months that drop to 0 degrees and below. Aren’t you glad you live here? Luckily, even when the snow is falling, it doesn’t mean your riding season has to end. Whether you’re a snow bunny who is craving some single track or you’re happy crushing PR’s inside, below are some tips on how to make the most from you winter season.
There’s nothing as serene as exploring Iowa’s quiet trails while they’re covered in fresh, sparkling snow. But it takes a lot more planning and preparation in comparison to the warmer months. Equipment is key to enjoying your time outside. No one wants numb toes! Dressing for the winter can be intimidating and costly, but don’t feel the need to purchase everything at once. During my first winter ride, I just wore gloves, two sweatshirts and lots of handwarmers in my shoes.
Items to consider:
-A base layer
-A wind breaker
-Shoe covers or winter boots (I put duct tape over the mesh vents on my normal cycling shoes)
-Pogies for your handlebars
-A balaclava or face mask
-Something to cover your ears
-A ski helmet or helmet cover
-Winter pants (I wear a thermal bottom and gym leggings over them)
My most prized possession while winter biking are my panniers. Once you start riding, it’s easy to overheat, which can also be uncomfortable. I can easily stuff my layers in my bags or pull them out when I feel chilly.
But what about your bike? If you’re going over snow or ice (which is likely if you’re traversing trails) wider tires with some tread will fit your needs. It’s not always perfect though. I ride on tires that are 650bx42, but I still biffed on some ice by Mullets because I didn’t have studs on them. Don’t know how fat to go? I brought my bike to my local shop, where they helped me figure out what would fit.
But what if I don’t want to go outside?
Training inside can bring its own joys as well. There’s a reason Peloton bikes are so hot right now. First, you need to choose how you want to ride inside.
Stationary bikes run the full gambit. You can find a $100 bike with a fan on Facebook Marketplace or you can purchase a $1,500 one with a simulation screen. They’re sturdy, easy to jump on, but can be difficult to move or find space for in your home.
Want to train on your own bike?
Wind trainers are cost effective, but they’re loud. Magnetic trainers are quieter and also cost effective, but you may have to manually change the resistance. The higher-end option is fluid bike trainers, which are quiet and feel like you’re on the road, but they’re more expensive.
Roller bike trainers are the most similar to biking outside, but make sure you don’t fly off!
Another thing to consider is how to track your performance. You can purchase a smart trainer or you can use a bike computer and sensor that’s compatible with a rear wheel.
There are also apps you can subscribe to that help you train and make the ride more interesting. Zwift is a highly popular app that places you in virtual races for $15 a month. It also tracks your cycling performance, so you can snag those KOM’s. If you’re looking for a free option, there’s plenty of cycling YouTube videos that can help you train, like GCN Network. I personally use a stationary bike, an Apple Watch and the Peloton app, which is $13 a month.
It doesn’t really matter how you bike this winter. What matters the most is that you get going! Even 20 minutes of cycling is good for your heart, your mind and it will make pulling up those shorts just a little bit easier in the spring.