In truth, the saying actually goes ‘winter miles, summer smiles’. It’s a popular mantra of encouragement in my local road club to get out during the bleak northeast English winter, as come summer those who have chosen the cozy 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 year’s challenges. If you come off 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, you can see out the whole year and keep your riding fresh. Those blessed with actual seasons seem to make the transition from thin to fat bikes seamlessly as snow descends. Unfortunately the weather here at home is, to coin a Guitar Ted phrase, ‘Consistently inconsistent’.
Here, at best, we hope for dry, bright and cold, as our default weather setting from October through April or May is typically wet, windy, and generally bleak.
I could opt for the cozy sofa and pay the summer price. I could grind out the miles senselessly regardless of the weather at risk of losing all motivation. But, what I would rather do is look for those winter smiles.
The best way I achieve winter smiles is to mix up my riding as much as possible over the winter months. Because I don’t really want to apply wear and tear to all my bikes in mud and grit, it is better to have one well-kept do-it-all machine. Reducing time and money spent on consumables is also essential for proper winter smiles attainment. I use is a ‘Do it nearly all’ machine.
The bike I choose is my ‘do-nearly-all-of-it’ machine…my Warbird.
Salsa designed the Warbird as it’s a gravel-racing bike, though in reality it’s so much more than that. It’s 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 found only with the Warbird. They are also true of many 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 improved 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 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 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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UK born and bred, Paul Errington came to riding bikes as a hobby, which soon evolved into an all-consuming passion. Riding fulfills a desire to challenge himself and explore adversity. An endurance bike rider above all else, the ever-progressive sport keeps him enthused. Every day on a bike is a good day. shoestring-racing.blogspot.com