Play In The Dirt To Make Cold Weather Fun And Productive

I was out riding around my usual farm roads a few weeks back. My hands and face were freezing as usual and I was temped to slow down to reduce the wind chill a bit. But slowing down would mean dropping my power since the roads are pretty flat and fast. So I was thinking how can I maintain my power and intensity while bringing the speed down to a point where the wind was not as big of a factor in making me cold. One way is to find roads that point up. Speed goes down and power goes up, but eventually I would have to come back down.

Another option to consider is riding the dirt. I am not talking about taking your road bike on your favorite single track. Just find a bit of unpaved roads to use instead of your usual tarmac route. The resistance of the rougher surface lets you maintain your intensity while bringing the speed down a bit. In fact, if the road is rough enough, you will basically be forced to ride at a good training pace just to keep the bike moving. Dirt riding will also put more emphasis on your handling skills and focus depending on the the quality of the road you choose.  

For many off-roads, you may not even have to make any mods to your bike. I like to put heavier, stronger tires on and I avoid using my best wheels, but other than that, most dirt can be ridden on your normal road gear. Another nice thing about riding on dirt roads is that the traffic volume is generally much lower than on the paved roads you might train on every other day.

A bigger challenge than actually riding on the dirt roads may be finding the dirt roads. Bike paths with adjoining horse or foot trails can be another option. Just keep your head up and eyes pealed for horses and walkers and give them plenty of space.

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