An alternate name for this post could be ‘Winter is Coming’. My objective today is to address, and perhaps head off, some avoidance of riding as fall weather begins to become more frequent.
While we must consider the time of year and your goals. Some athletes are at the end of their season, low on energy, no upcoming races and so they are better served to train when the weather is good. The exception may be an athlete lacking experience in mud, rain, wet where we might try to get out and have some fun and do some learning.
For athletes excited that #CrossIsComing we need to get out and test tires, skills and clothes in cross-specific situations. Similarly, fall marathon events (running or riding) can be treated to summer weather or subject to mean fall-winter weather that tests everyone to choose gear and clothing well and use their skills to thrive in the adverse conditions.
With that said, here are a 4 ways to approach riding in ‘poor’ weather this fall:
1) The weather is always worse when staring at a computer screen or sitting in the car. Don’t wait to ride … just go. The weather might get better later but often not better than the weather in your warm living room or heated car. Get the ride in.
2) Ride offroad or on gravel paths – Often a sandy base, especially when combined with fenders and some Gore-Tex (See video on clothes) can be quite enjoyable. Riding mountain bikes at sandy destinations can keep you very warm and dry on rides even when raining and cold out. See Video on regulating temperature using your gloves.
3) Don’t aim for ‘perfect’ – this is a good rule always but on these days take a step back on your intervals, heart rate zones, duration. Focus on getting the EXPERIENCE in. Technical skills, trying different clothes and adjusting your definition of ‘riding weather’. All these things have huge benefit when it gets rainy on race day. See Video on Mudding Skills
4) Time to ease into cross training and get the trainer ready. While both should be used sparingly the way I combat the time-limited athlete’s complaint that muddy rides take too much time is to suggest that the trainer and cross-training can be great ways to train on rainy days and/or extend training on rainy days (e.g. MTB for 90min, change some clothes and then run for a bit). Do keep the experience idea in mind before jumping on the trainer everyday in September though!