Since Matt's post below Ottawa's winter situation has gone from bad to worse -- in the form of 20cm of new snow. At this time last year we were putting in long road rides without fenders or any real winter gear. Now we're snowbound and the first races are a month away... oh my god oh my god oh my god... what to do? I give you The Enabler:
I've been monkeying around with this bike racing thing for quite some time now and though I'm no pro I have figured out something that has allowed me some modest success. Here it is, wait for it: you have to train in the winter. Particularly if you want to be strong in the Spring.
I despise riding an indoor trainer, I live in Ottawa and I want to be fast in the Spring. This statement presents a challenge that requires some creativity to overcome. Certainly cross country skiing -- particularly skate skiing -- provides a crucial cross training opportunity and this has been my go-to alternative activity for many years. Also spinning classes. Yes, it's a lot like riding a trainer but the group, instructor and music make motivation easier to muster. At least for me. Cyclelogik -- just up the road from Tall Tree and not an aerobics studio with exercise bikes -- is an excellent venue. So ski a lot, spin once a week, hit the trainer occasionally and ride outside in heinous conditions. This basic strategy has been working okay.
Then this year Trish and I acquired two Surly Pugsleys and things changed. The bike's giant wheels and tires make riding snow covered singletrack a real joy. Since getting the bikes in late January the misery sticks have seen a lot less use but we have managed three rides per week including three and even four hour outings on weekends. The key word in that last sentence is "outing". As in "outside" and not "inside" on a trainer. I think I've been on the thing four times all year. From our house near Westboro we can easily do a three hour loop using the unplowed bike paths with minimal road miles and no driving. I have often complained how Ottawa does not plow bike paths. Now I realize I just had the wrong bike!
The Pugsley opens up possibilities and turns otherwise negative situations -- like having a tonne of snow in March -- into positives. Okay maybe not positives -- but manageable situations. Roads covered in snow? Hit the trails. Minus 10 degrees and windy? Get off the road and onto the snowy trails -- 7km per hour and labouring hard on a 35lb bike makes minus ten degrees feel like plus ten. We've even got "first tracks" on city streets following big snow storms. When snow paralyzes the city it becomes a playground for the big bike. Cruising the neighbourhoods ramming through snowbanks is ridiculous fun and excellent training. What more could you want? For $1900 you can buy the ability to ride pretty much anytime. Options.
Just be sure to order your Pugsley months in advance as they are apparently sold out across North America. Hmmm....