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5 Tips: Winter Cycling Fun

(on and off the bike)

There are dozens of articles out there about keeping in shape during the winter. But we think the key is to make your winter cycling activities fun and interesting enough that you'll look forward to them, just like you look forward to riding your bike on a nice summer day. We came up with the following 5 tips to mix it up and have fun in the winter:

1. Buy a cyclocross bike and ride it regardless of the weather. These bikes are the Jeeps of the bicycle world, capable of handling almost any terrain, from paved roads, to gravel and dirt roads and mild off-road trails. They are like heavy-duty road bikes, with clearance in the frame and fork for fatter tires, plus fender to help keep the winter muck off yourself.

2. Buy a set of studded tires for your bike. Studded bike tires are available to fit road, mountain, fat, and hybrid bikes. They have steel spikes to give you traction on ice and packed snow. You'll want to pick a studded tire that's narrower than what you might think--a narrow tire will cut through loose snow and slush so that the studs can grip on the packed surface underneath, rather than float on top of the snow. Studded tires are great for keeping up your year-round bike commuting or training rides on unpaved bike paths. Even if you aren't that dedicated, use them for tooling around the neighborhood to get some fresh air, a short jaunt down to the corner coffee shop, or racing up and down the sidewalk with the kids. Beware that studded tires will have LESS traction on dry pavement, so when the weather clears up long enough for the roads to dry out, swap your regular tires back on, or be VERY careful when going around turns.

3. Bring your bike indoors and spend an afternoon waxing and detailing it. This should be done a couple of times throughout the riding season, but take advantage of the winter time on your hands to really give your bike the once-over; the kind of detailing job you did to your car the day of your senior prom. Use a toothbrush to get all the grit out of the nooks and crannies of the frame and around the spokes and hubs. Make the frame shine with furniture polish or car wax, and use a metal polish to make the chrome bits really sparkle. You'll be even more proud than usual of your ride when it finally comes time to take it out for TOSRV or GOBA.

4. Ride your trainer while watching "Dark Side of the Rainbow." Start with the heartbeat...or use the time to catch up on watching any other TV or movies that you can't justify devoting the time to otherwise. Put on one of the classic cycling films, like "Breaking Away," "American Flyers," "Quicksilver," "Bicycle Thieves," or "2 Seconds."

5. Build a fire and put a Tour de France DVD on. In any good fitness regimen, rest days are just as important as workout days, and sometimes, the best way to rest is to relax on the couch and get some inspiration by watching others suffer on their bikes!