It may take longer for the sun to crest the horizon, and there might be a chill in the air, but fall and winter at The Cliffs are the perfect time to hop on a bike and head for the hills. We checked in with the cycling legends — who often ride alongside members at The Cliffs — for tips to maximize your enjoyment on the bike during fall and winter.
In the chillier months, you might want to be conscious of the altitudes you’re climbing because the weather can change so quickly. If you can, always ride the lower elevations. I always keep a real strict eye on the weather to make sure there are no storms rolling in, and I always have an exit plan. I use Dark Sky as my go-to weather app. In short, I try to stay as close to home as possible, while being able to do some good climbing. Just nothing too high, where you might get up into unpredictable weather patterns. You also don’t want to suffer too much after the ride. As soon as you get back, get into dry clothing and warm up quickly. You don’t want to stay wet for too long or get too cold after a ride. I wear merino wool undershirts all the time, and if it’s a particularly cold ride, I always like to have warm tea or hot chocolate to drink.
Riding in the fall and winter can be just as enjoyable as riding in warmer weather, as long as you dress correctly. I would suggest the three-layer approach. Start with a quality base-layer made of moisture-wicking material, then a middle layer such as a long sleeve cycling jersey made of thicker material, and finally an outer layer such as a vest or thermal jacket to protect against the windchill. Make sure that the middle and outer layers have zippers so that you can easily open them when riding uphill and then close them as you start the downhill.
CHRISTIAN VANDE VELDE:
Cold weather riding in the Carolinas is — let’s face it — not that cold. But you always have to stay comfortable in any condition, and the things that always hurt for me are my extremities: head, hands, and feet. Head: My favorite go-to is a thin headband that can cover my ears without compromising my helmet fit. You’d be surprised how a thin piece of Lycra can make your life so much better. Hands: Merino wool gloves are great and truly stand the test of time, but any thin glove that wicks moisture and offers protection from wind shear helps a ton. Feet: Simple neoprene toe covers are amazing. Keeping your toes protected, in turn, keeps your entire foot warm. What I like the most about toe covers is they don’t impede my pedal stroke, and they are easy to take off if it gets warm.
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