Finding Your Stride On an Epic Winter Ride

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Finding your Stride On an Epic Winter Ride

I recently went on a ride with four veteran riders whose collective mileage and mountain exposure is enough to boggle the mind and wither the will. Fortunately, they are a jolly lot with just enough good nature to let me tag along as a Wee Come-along finding her way. Truth is it was a great ride. I asked at a mid-ride break if I could have a “reality check” – What percent effort were they riding at?

The responses varied, but the general average was “not too hard” another described it as “steady state” or “all-day riding pace.” All of this was both perplexing and reassuring at the same time. On the ride I had vacillated from “Ok I am stopping N-O-W!” to “Damn, I love mountain biking so much I need to do this ALL DAY, EVERYDAY!”

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have my riding mentor on the ride who offered some inspiring thoughts on how best to enjoy an epic winter ride. Here are his gems:

1.) When you don’t know how long the ride is going to be and it could be epic (20+ miles) leave some fuel in the tank – meaning ride within your capacity vs using all fuel too quickly;

2.) Don’t sprint up hills - it’s a quick route to burnout;

3.) Plan for and consume a snack approximately every 60 minutes of riding – ½ banana or ¼ PB Sandwich – modest but regular and small;

4.) Get out of your head about the duration – break the ride down to what you are doing right now, then repeat;

5.) If you have pavement or fireroads on your route – simply find a steady pace and spin, as much on the upstroke as the downstroke – full circle pedaling;

6.) Wear your layers. If you are warm in the parking lot before getting started you're likely over-dressed. Vent (unzip or remove) your layers when you warm up, zip-up or add layers on breaks and mechanicals;

7.) Stay hydrated.

This list could go on and on but these are a few epic winter ride basics that are helpful in COVID times when our collective fitness may not be at its zenith.

Mary McCarthy
Chapter President