Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Winter Miles, Winter Smiles.

In truth the saying actually goes ‘Winter miles, Summer smiles’ … its popular in my local road club as a mantra of encouragement to get out during the bleak north east England winter as come summer those who have chosen the cosy sofa over the damp saddle will then be put to the sword.

I myself believe that winter smiles are just as important to set up for the coming years challenges. You come of winter deflated and demotivated then that’s the attitude you will take to your goals.

Cycling is such a diverse sport that with a few variations on the theme of a bike you can see out the whole year and keep your riding fresh. Those blessed with actual real seasons seem to make the transition from thin to fat bikes seamlessly as snow descends (annoyingly to those without snow well documented across social media). Unfortunately the weather here at home to coin a Guitar Ted phrase is ‘Consistently inconsistent’.

At best here we hope for dry, bright and cold though our default weather setting from October sometimes as late as April or May is wet, windy and generally bleak.

I could opt for the cosy sofa and pay the summer price, I could grind out the miles senselessly in all-weather at risk of losing all motivation (I often have to) but what I would rather do is look for those winter smiles.

The best way I can achieve my winter smiles is to mix up my riding as much as possible over winter though I don’t really want to wear all my bikes in mud and grit better to have one well-kept do it all machine, reducing time and money spent on consumables is also essential in winter smiles attainment… what I use is a ‘Do it nearly all’ machine.

There is only one choice for me when I come to my garage to go riding… my Warbird.

On the tin it says it’s a gravel bike though in reality it’s so much more than that. Its great on the road bridging sections of trail seamlessly, it rides efficiently enough to cover good distance, off road it adds an extra challenge to trails previously ridden on fatter tyres. These are not just traits only found with the Warbird they are also true of all bikes with some semblance to cyclocross bikes.

The great Belgium sport of cyclocross has bred a whole host of variations on what was initially a road bike with better grip and mud shedding clearance.

Not only can I race cyclocross every weekend locally fulfilling the desire to put on a number but I can also efficiently ride the trails to and from the race. My mid-week night ride is a mix of trail and dirt stitched together through winter weekend reconnaissance rides with friends. The Warbird is my do it all machine for winter.

Every weekend is now spent with an exploratory Saturday ride with friends … we hunt for new and interesting sections of trail and path previously unridden, if we have always turned left at a junction we turn right, if we spot an opening in the woods we go for it .. often with many comic consequences.

Weather and season don’t dictate the level of enjoyment you can have on a bike…. the bike you choose to ride, the people you ride with and the places you ride do.

As we transition from autumn to winter I am sure there are many winter smiles ahead to be had.

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