Cycle South is North Georgia's premiere bicycle shop. Originally located in Riverdale, GA, owners Sam & Shelby Curlee moved to Blue Ridge in 1998 so they could spend more time on the trails. Since then, they have explored hundreds of miles of fantastic single track and beautiful dirt roads in the tri-state area and want to help others enjoy it as well.
After 15 years in Blue Ridge, a flooded store prompted us to move to Copperhill. We plan to enjoy many more years in this quaint, laid back little town.
Tips for a great winter ride!!!
One of the main attractions of cycling, and mountain biking in particular, is that it's a fun way to exercise. For years, I have been compelled to have a minimum of three cardiovascular workouts a week. Mountain biking is my default way of achieving this. However, I also use an elliptical and a Bowflex when weather keeps me from riding. Not as fun, but necessary to maintain my fitness level. Cold temperatures are of course the main obstacle for winter riding. Here are some strategies that have helped me ride more in the north Georgia and east Tennessee mountains for the last 25 years.
Clothing is obviously the most important thing. However, you must also consider other factors such as wind, altitude, creek crossings, and weather conditions you may run into during your ride. Adaptability is the key! It is often important to be able to add or remove gear for changing conditions. You will at times find there is ice, or much colder conditions at the top of a mountain, than there were at the bottom. Perhaps the main consideration is whether you are climbing and generating heat at slow speeds, or descending ant lower heart rates with a lot of wind chill. A common mistake is to race your buddy up a tough climb, and end up at the top soaked with sweat. You take a break to regroup, then fly down the other side and end up frozen at the bottom. Ideally I want to be a little chilly at the start of a climb that will take 10 minutes or more. Avoid taking breaks that last longer than 2 minutes. A long enough down time may require adding a windbreaker, skull cap, or heavier glove. It is also important to start your descent before your body loses the heat generated from the climb.
The Tansai Trail System is one of my favorite cold temperature destinations. It features generally rolling trails, lower altitudes, and trees to block the wind. There are also no creek crossings where your feet are likely to get wet.
I definitely prefer layering to heavy jackets. Always start with a base layer of wicking fabric. Arm, Leg, and Knee warmers are important for adaptability. Arm warmers work particularly well. They can be pulled down to the wrists on the climbs and then pulled back up for the descents.
Cold fingers and toes are likely to be the most potentially painful part of winter riding. Winter shoes, wool socks and booties all help, but I have found nothing greater than "The Grabber" toe warmers to stick inside your sock. They have been a savior for my toes.
Too heavy a glove will result in wet hands at the top of a climb, so I often carry a second pair for descents. Storing them against your abdomen will keep them warmed up.
Always start with your gloves, socks and shoes warm. Also your hands and feet. It's easier to keep them warm than it is to warm them up on the ride.
Hope these tips will help keep you on the bike more this Winter, and able to start spring in top form!