Road riding in the winter comes with extra challenges, especially with colder weather and shorter days. But if you can find the motivation to get outside, and can figure out how to stay warm, it can be incredibly rewarding. Check out these tips to make your next winter ride better.
Choosing the right clothing to wear for the conditions makes the difference between a fun winter ride and a miserable one. Check the forecast for where you will be riding. What temperatures are expected throughout your ride? Will it be dry or will it be wet due to rain or snow? Will it be calm or windy?
Then dress in layers for those conditions. First, don a highly breathable synthetic or wool base layer. Then add one or more layers for insulation. Finally, top it off with a wind and/or waterproof jacket. Note that most waterproof jackets aren’t very breathable, despite any marketing to the contrary, so go with just a wind-blocking layer if conditions will be dry.
If you expect to ride frequently in cold weather, it’s worth investing in proper winter riding clothing and accessories.
When riding in extreme cold, always bring a spare layer or two. If something happens – like a mechanical or crash – you may have to stop riding for a period of time during which your core temperature will drop quickly due to the lack of movement. If there is a threat of precipitation, make sure you have a spare waterproof layer like a rain jacket.
Take the time to stop and adjust which layers you’re wearing as needed. Remove layers on climbs to keep from overheating and add layers ahead of descents to stay warm. When you wear too many layers, your sweat will quickly drench your clothes, which puts you at risk for feeling much colder the rest of the ride.
Get extra motivation by making riding dates with friends.
Keep your extremities warm
When your hands, feet and head stay warm, you will feel warmer overall. Buy yourself some truly effective gloves and winter cycling shoes. If you notice your hands and feet getting tingly and going numb during rides, your gloves and shoes are not warm enough. Avoid getting frostbite so you don’t permanently damage the circulation in your extremities.
You lose a lot of heat through your head so simply putting on ear covers, a hat or a balaclava can help you keep more heat to yourself.
Be seen and be safe
Winter means shorter days and lower levels of light. That means drivers are less likely to see you. Wear brightly colored and reflective outer layers for better visibility and consider adding a flashing rear blinking light and/or a headlight to your bike.
If it’s darker out, ride with glasses that have lenses that are lightly tinted or clear. You’ll be able to see better.
If you ride where it’s cold and wet enough for ice and snow, always be on the lookout, especially around blind corners or in the shade where ice may take more time to melt even as ambient temperatures rise above freezing.
Be flexible with your riding plans
Give your body extra time to warm up before pedalling hard on winter rides. If it’s very cold, consider doing a shorter ride or riding at a higher intensity so you produce more heat to keep yourself warm.
Adjust your route to pick roads with less wind exposure or stay at lower elevations. Or time your ride so you’re out at the warmest part of the day.
Bring a friend
Sometimes the hardest part of winter riding is finding the motivation to get out the door. Get extra motivation by making riding dates with friends. Knowing you have to meet your riding buddy at a certain location and time will make you less likely to bail. And you can even reward yourselves for getting out there together by stopping for a cup of warm coffee or tea at the end of your ride.
Lori Barrett is ROTOR’s North American Brand Manager. Bikes and sports are more than her pastimes; they are her lifestyle. Lori tells us more about ROTOR in the USA.
You have been working with ROTOR since August. What’s your experience been like so far?
I love working with ROTOR! It’s inspiring to be involved with a brand with such an incredible commitment to innovation, and whose brand values are so deeply tied to quality products.
Are you a cyclist as well?
I formerly raced full-time on the road bike, but now ride more mountain bikes. Sometimes it’s difficult with my work/travel schedule, but it’s a near-daily part of my life. It’s why I live in the mountains!
What’s more popular in the US, road or mountain?
Hmmm, this is hard: more people ride road bikes, so there is a bigger group of people already putting wheels to pavement, but the mountain bike community is growing rapidly. Who knows, maybe riding dirt will catch up!
Do you recommend oval chainrings for MTB? What are the advantages?
We get a lot of feedback from the mountain bike community, perhaps because people are still just discovering the oval rings for riding trails. It’s amazing to me – a couple of weeks ago, an older racer called the office to tell us that he had recently gotten an oval ring, and it took the strain off his lower back, allowing him to ride farther & faster, more comfortably. We also hear from a lot of riders who love the way it allows them to keep the rear wheel in contact with the ground more effectively, since the oval ring smooths out the pedal stroke, effectively. There are so many great stories, it’s hard to select the ones to share!
Which ROTOR products are more popular in the US? INpower?
The 2INpower is the hottest power meter on the US market now, as people learn about everything from the TORQUE360 feature, to the fact that all of the technology is internal and not subject to the elements. However, the Qarbon Q-Ring has really taken off, combining the popularity of the Q-Ring with the stiffening/lightening properties of carbon.
How is ROTOR’s dealer network in the US?
ROTOR has a strong dealer network in the US, with key partners in each city. We are in the process of updating our dealer finder on the website, so stay tuned!
Which is your favorite ROTOR product?
I love 2INpower and Qarbon Q-Rings, but I also geek out on our UBB. It’s not as sexy as our power meters and chainrings, but a bottom bracket that eliminates any BB noise, from any frame? Now that’s hot.
Does ROTOR America support any professional cyclists? Which ones?
We work with a variety of professional athletes and teams, from the great folks of Maverick Multisport in triathlon to Freeride legend, Brett Tippie, in gravity mountain biking. We also have a strong junior program, supporting young riders as they make their way to the top ranks in their respective sport, like Downhill National Champion, Lauren Bingham, and Junior World Cup athletes, Katie and Evan Clouse.
Is ROTOR a premium brand in the US market?
ROTOR is happy being a brand at the top of the market. It’s great knowing that every product we send out is at the top of its class.
What is the 2017 forecast for ROTOR in the US?
We expect great things for 2017! We have always done a great job with products, and 2017 is the year where we start to get the ROTOR story out in our country. From our Tech Rep program to the emergence of the UNO groupset, we are positioned to stake a claim in the US.
Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the cyclists among your family and friends? ROTOR has you covered for many important bike components. Read on for five great suggestions for what you can put under the Christmas tree.
Ride further and faster while pedalling with ROTOR’s Q-Rings. These oval-shaped chainrings help cyclists use their muscles more efficiently during the pedal stroke. ROTOR offers a variety of Q-Rings compatible with Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo drivetrains, and you can chose aero or non-aero rings made of carbon or aluminum.
We recommend picking a chainring with the same number of teeth, the same number of bolts and the same bolt circle diameter as the chainring already on the bike on which the recipient will be installing it.
ROTOR Q-Rings Chainrings
Choose your chainring for Road, Mountain Bike, Enduro, Triathlon, or Cyclocross.
Get more out of your efforts by training and racing with a power meter. ROTOR’s state-of-the-art 2INpower is a dual-sided power meter – with Bluetooth connectivity and a rechargeable battery – that tells you exactly how you are riding. It uses strain gauges in both crank arms to measure power individually output for each leg. Cyclists can use 2INpower’s precise data to identify weak spots in their pedal stroke, then target improvements accordingly for better performance.
Find out more about 2INpower for Road, Triathlon or Cyclocross
Mountain bikers will love the new ROTOR RHawk and RRaptor cranksets – both are designed specifically for enduro use. And while all cranks come with molded rubber bumpers around their ends where the pedals attach, the RHawks and RRaptors also feature a large rubber bumper further up the crank arm so they will withstand bigger rock impacts.
Though both the RHawk and the RRaptor come in a standard black anodized finish with laser etched graphics, riders get to pick from seven different colors for the crankarm protectors, ranging from an understated black to bright neon yellow, orange, red, pink, blue and green.
Find out more about ROTOR’s enduro cranksets.
If there is one component a cyclist doesn’t want to have to think about while training and racing, it’s their bottom bracket. Nothing beats a quiet, clean and smoothly spinning bottom bracket – it means every pedal stroke’s effort is going toward propelling the bike forward rather than toward overcoming the friction of a poorly functioning bottom bracket.
With UBB, ROTOR offers bottom brackets per many common standards such as English threaded (BSA), Italian threaded (ITA), BB30, Press Fit 30, BBright, BB 386 EVO, BB86, BB89 and BB92.
ROTOR Bottom Brackets
Shop for bottom brackets for the Road, Mountain Bike, Enduro, Triathlon and Cyclocross.
Worried that your QX1 chainring has gotten shunned by components from other brands? Here’s a little love story about component compatibility:
(or “Is Mountain Biking Harder Than Road Cycling?”)
To be good at anything you do, you have to have a clear purpose, therefore training has to have purpose. In mountain biking, that purpose is to improve your ability to power through and recover from the frequent hard efforts required by riding off-road. Training with a power meter will enable you to become stronger, faster, and fitter, which – when combined with superior technical skills, will make you an almost lethal mountain biker. Having a tool to measure, analyze, monitor and manage your training and racing will prepare you for known challenges and even ones that are unexpected, like wet sand and mud.
Like they say in the video, every mountain biker wants to get fitter, ride faster, and to make it easier. But the truth is, it’s never going to get easier, but if you follow the four steps listed below, you just get better.
Measure – most power meters are designed to calculate power and cadence, which are indicators of your fitness. Many power meters also measure pedal smoothness and torque effectiveness, which indicate how efficiently you pedal or, put another way, how much energy you are wasting if your pedal stroke isn’t optimized. The data that’s collected by a power meter is then exported to a .fit file, which can be read by a variety of applications specifically intended to crunch sport-performance data*. Or, you can simply email your .fit file to your coach, who can interpret your data to help you reach and hold you accountable to your goals.
Analyze – Once you’ve measured your performance – or collected data, you can analyze your data to see where your strengths and weaknesses are with respect to you as a rider, your bike, and influential circumstances (environmental, physical, technical, tactical, and psychological).
Monitor – You can leverage your data to track – or monitor – your performance, which is subject to training intensity, pacing, stress, nutrition, overtraining, and fatigue.
Manage – Your accumulated data tells you how to monitor your performance in the moment; now you can set long-term goals and manage your performance to achieve those goals.
“Training with a power meter is like having an onboard coach and test lab that gives you constant diagnostic feedback with which to make adjustments to your biomechanics on the bike, and to prevent injuries,” said Hicham Mar, elite cycling coach at the American Sport Training Center. “Your data is an honest account of your output, no matter if it’s windy, hot, or steep, and of your energy levels – how many calories you are burning and how many you need to consume to maintain your pace. This is especially important in mountain biking because riding terrain varies so dramatically from one area to another, that the only way to control the variables is to know how much power you’re capable of sustaining.”
Perception and “riding by feel” are not accurate indicators of sport performance and, while technical prowess can be a temporary substitute for fitness in mountain biking, improved output is the ultimate advantage to outperforming your rivals but more importantly, yourself. To be a better rider than you were yesterday, or the day before, understanding how you can improve will help you become a smarter cyclist.
*ROTOR has partnered with TrainingPeaks.com, which has provided a 4-week training plan plus 30 days of TrainingPeaks Premium to owners of INpower and 2INpower, (home.trainingpeaks.com/ROTOR)
Switching from using round chainrings to ROTOR’s Q-Rings is easy, but it does require some initial setup followed by a transition period for full adaptation.
Optimum Chainring Position (OCP) is what allows you to vary the rotational position of a Q-Ring, thereby enabling you to adjust it to the precise point where you deliver maximum power during a single pedal rotation.
ROTOR suggests the following initial OCP setups by discipline:
- Road: Position 3
- Triathlon and TT: Position 4
- MTB: Position 2
Because Q-Rings use leg muscles differently than round chainrings, your muscles will need time to adapt to the new, more efficient way of pedalling. Adaptation is a gradual process covering four stages with each stage taking between one day and one week. Most riders will require at least 10 hours of pedalling time to make the full transition.
In stage 1, you will learn to pedal more efficiently. Pedalling may initially feel different, and you may find yourself turning the pedals at a faster or slower rate than your usual cadence. Don’t worry about any initial jerkiness – it will smooth out over time.
You will start to feel more capable and more powerful in stage 2, and your spin will improve on climbs. Many who suffer knee pain will start to notice it less – assuming their OCP is correctly adjusted.
Stage 3 + 4
Stage 3 will bring improved biomechanical efficiency, which produces a smoother pedal stroke due to fuller activation of muscle groups. You will be creating more power than with round chainrings. If you experience no issues during this stage, you have correctly set your OCP and are onto Stage 4 of adaptation. Those encountering issues should read on for further OCP setting instructions.
If you experience the following symptoms, you are arriving at the max chainring diameter too late because your OCP number is too big, and you should reduce your OCP by one setting:
- You accelerate and sprint easily, but have difficulty maintaining speed.
- You feel pedalling resistance too late in your pedal stroke and/or you are hyperextending your ankle.
- You need a lower cadence to be comfortable.
- Your sit further forward than usual to pedal comfortably.
- You are comfortable pedalling while standing, but not while seated.
- You have new pain at the back of your leg behind your knee.
On the other hand, if your OCP is set too low, you will find yourself arriving at the max chainring diameter too soon during your pedal stroke. You should increase your OCP setting by one if you experience the following:
- You find it easy to maintain a steady speed but have difficulty accelerating and sprinting.
- You feel pedalling resistance too early in your pedal stroke and/or you are hyperflexing your ankle.
- You need a higher cadence to be comfortable.
- You sit further back than usual to pedal comfortably.
- You are comfortable pedalling while seated, but not while standing.
- You have a new pain at the front of your knee.
Once you’ve got your OCP correctly adjusted, it’s time for stage 4 and final adaptation, which comes naturally with more cumulative pedalling time using Q-Rings.
A few final setup notes
Different bikes may need different OCPs – don’t assume you will use the same position on each of your bikes.
Adjacent chainrings in multi-ring setups may require different OCP’s.
Road Q-Rings and QXL have five OCP points while MTB Q-Rings have three OCP points.
If you are using a Micro Adjust Spider (MAS), your number of OCP points is effectively doubled because it reduces the angle between OCP points by 2.5 degrees, thereby offering micro adjustments. In this case, you should adjust your OCP in 1/2-step increments.