Cedar Falls,IA, July 16 2015
Most of us do not ride in winter or train indoor at the gym or at home on stationary bikes. Last winter I wanted to see what it was like to ride alone in cold weather and decided to ride from Girone on the north east coast of Spain, to Lorient in Brittany, a 800 Kms stretch through rolling hills. What did I learn from that experience that can be useful to other cyclists reading this blog?
First enemy is of course the temperature, which was in the 30 s ( 0 to 5 centigrade) most of the time. Not an issue as long as one wears the right winter gear. 5 layers of gore tex was fine but necessary, as well as thin gloves covered with thick ones, a hood under the helmet and overshoes. Head, hands, feet, neck are the weak parts of the body that need to stay warm.
Rain: I had my share of it, and it was bloody cold: so again, a state of the art rain gear ( gore tex) is recommended.
Cycling hours: in December and January in France, day light goes from 9 am till 5 pm, no more. That means that if you want to ride 10 hours, which is the average we do including 2 hours rest, you’ll need to ride in the dark and have strong head and tail lights.
Hotel reservations: during the low season, many B&B s are closed and expect to stay in hotels. They were pretty empty and sad , but oh well…
What else? As long as there is no snow on the roads, winter is no problem. It’s is a different way to see the world from the saddle, and I found it worth it, even if it is tough. Plus I visited good friends in Agen ( see pic below) and had the Hermione , the Lafayette frigate, all for myself to visit in Rochefort ( pic) Riding in winter in France is definitely an option.