bike and snow

5 tips to a smooth transition from Off-season to Winter

Despite my love of snow and the mountains, the first real snow of the season always seems a bit shocking.  I get thrown into this conundrum of sport confusion and indecisiveness.  My brain debates which sport, weather, temperature, conditions and level of enjoyment until the ultimate mind-slap statement, “Get your shit together, it’s just a little snow, if it’s too cold then maybe it’s time for the gym.”

photo by Rob Sutton
photo by Rob Sutton

Then the REAL debate begins.

It’s a similar dichotomy to the “angel vs. devil” conflict on your shoulder, but imagine a haloed, gleaming, nature-loving, mountain biker or runner vs. ear-budded, zoned out, boxed-in spinster or track rat with a heart rate monitor.  Ok, that might be a bit harsh, but that’s how it feels at that moment.

In an attempt to address my indecisiveness, I set out to get some suggestions from other riders and colleagues, who in my mind, must be going through the same sort of conundrum.  Along the way, I checked in with Sydney Fox & Nick Truitt at Breck Bike Guides to get their thoughts.

“Take some time to do something different for a bit,” says Fox. “We love to start running in the fall when the leaves start to turn. At that point we’re getting a bit tired of our typical rides, and it’s great to slow down a bit to really see the leaves and our surroundings. It always feels miserable at first, but it’s a pretty good rush and we can run places we can’t ride.”

It is tough to shake the haloed, nature-lover in all of us. So if you wanna keep it outside be sure to wear the right gear. The right gear could mean the difference between an enjoyable and an unpleasant outdoor experience.  “We believe in bringing in products that are innovative and keep you comfortable in all conditions, allowing you to focus on the ride, which is why we head out on the bike in the first place, right?” adds Fox.  “The Essential Spring Jacket from POC has a windproof front and breathable back with super stretchable arms and shoulders. The best part of the jacket is that it has traditional jersey pockets, so you don’t have to go digging under your jacket for food or additional clothing.”  The Mavic HC mid-weight softshell vest with large back pockets looks sharp and versatile.  They also have gloves from POC and Pearl Izumi that are essential if you plan on riding in the cooler temperatures.

When the weather starts to turn and the trails are covered in snow then look at alternative winter sports.  “In the winter, go ski! Whether it’s nordic, alpine, or backcountry, there are skills from each of them that make us better cyclists. Alpine skiing strengthens the opposite quad muscles that cycling does, so we’re rehabbing our legs without realizing it. Nordic creates incredible amounts of balance, which we need to push our descending abilities, and backcountry skiing and alpine teach us to see obstacles when descending in a different way. I always feel like a better descender after a season of skiing.”

Photo by Joe Meiser
Photo by Joe Meiser

 “We’re all about the fat bikes!” Says Fox, “Fat biking allows us to continue getting the thrill that only bikes can give us. It also helps us spin smoothly through the off season, as riding on snow forces us to have an incredibly smooth pedal stroke to keep upright, especially up hills.  Many cyclists turn to rollers to create a smooth pedal stroke. Now we can take that outside and have a much more exciting experience.”  You will soon be able to tour and rent Fat Bikes from Breck Bike Guides.  Call to check on availability.

And when the snow is blowing sideways and the temps dip down deep, the ear-budded spinster will win the battle and push you toward an indoor sport alternative.  You can always go to the Breckenridge Recreation Center or you could plan a spin date at the new Breck Bike Guides spin studio.  The wall of windows brings in the light and shows off the views so you feel like you are outside, but actually you are in a cozy setting with a few friends.  Set up a trainer and spin for an hour or so with friends or take one of their Spin/Yoga classes.

And when you finally need a break from the cold, get out of town!  “We love Phoenix, AZ and the South Mountain trails in January. It’s in the 60s and 70s and super sunny, which is such a nice break from snow and 20 degrees… South Mountain has smooth, flow trails as well as some incredibly technical terrain. It’s a great mid-season tune up.”  Fox adds, “I know for myself technical riding has been my weakest skill and I don’t especially want to work on it in the middle of the summer when I’m focused on going fast and having fun. It’s great to work on it in the winter when I have no goal in mind and these trails certainly take me to my limit.”

Be sure to check in with Breck Bike Guides on availability.  They will be closed for a week or two some time in October when the leaves are gone and the snow is starting to fall.  “We’ll keep everyone updated on Facebook.”

Enjoy the Climb…


Breck Bike Guides, 411 S. Main Street Unit #12, Breckenridge . 970.846.0921