Winter Weather Cycling Tips

Cycling in winter is not an activity many of us are excited about. If you're like me, you've probably already signed up for spin classes or dusted off the indoor trainer for the long dark and cold days ahead. When it comes to winter cycling, forecasting and planning your ride is key as well as dressing appropriately. Last year I talked myself into doing a few winters rides and quickly learned that braving the elements takes time getting used to but having the right tools to equip your winter rides will make adventuring out in the cold worthwhile. Here are some helpful tips to keep you dry, warm, and happy on your winter rides.

Weathered In Vermont

Today's ride journal is supported by Route Feminent. I am deeply grateful and encouraged by the support that got me to pursue this journey. I hope I can continue to spread the good adventure vibes.

A pared down life. It’s what I had hoped to achieve when I moved out of NYC to the Hudson Valley. Being surrounded by lakes, mountains, and trees, the quiet and simple life would be the escape I needed from the domestic demands of day to day life. I thought that what I had achieved by leaving the city would sooth my cravings for the open air but even that wasn’t enough. Even in the silence of the woods, I found myself constantly in between the ebb and flow of escapism and this time headed to Vermont.

For some time, I had dreamed of cycling through the Green Mountains for a lot of reasons: to see Vermont in the fall, to cycle the unpaved country roads, and to disconnect from it all. As I dreamt of fog rolling over mountains, the smell of firewood, and mud covered tires, I planned to leave it all behind, no phones, no computers, no work or domestic talk. I purchased trail maps, packed gear as lightly as possible, and resolved to eating dehydrated meals for three days. Leaving work and life behind, my partner and I packed up our car with gear and bikes and headed North.

The excitement of camping out in the backcountry loomed over us as we drove. With bright eyes, we imagined the worst scenarios of camping and laughed at all of our worries of unpreparedness, getting lost, and fear of bears. After hours of driving, we drove into our first stop, Jamaica, where we spent our first night in a tiny cabin tucked in the woods behind a junk yard to prepare our route for the next two nights. With maps sprawled on coffee tables we planned 90 miles of cycling and camping through Vermont backcountry trails.

The morning after, we headed out caffeinated, prepared, and excited. We resolved to leave our car parked in Jamaica State Park and pedaled off onto unpaved trails with our bikes and gear at a brisk pace, cracking jokes, (“doesn’t get any better than this”), while marveling how the bleak and drizzling rain made the hardwood forest seem mystical. By noon the sun made a small effort to shine so we paused to hike up the highest hill we could overlook to soak in the view of the valleys below. To the west we could see the Green Mountains, showing off their fall colors and grew excited about the trail that lay ahead.

We cycled 30 miles north the first day on the trail. Staring down roads, unpaved trails of gravel, dirt, rock, fallen branches and beds of leaves seemed never ending while carrying gear till the Sun started to come down. We had reached near Okemo State Forest to set up camp tucked in an open meadow with the woods behind us. As night fell, we gazed at the open sky, listened to the sound of nearby rivers, and revisited the days hardship and discomfort. To pass the time, we revisited old memories of camping as children and drifted off to an early sleep.
The second morning, we packed camp, layered our bodies in warm gear, sipped coffee while discussing the day's plan and hit the trail south towards Green Mountain National Forest. We were making an ambitious day of it, 45 miles of unknown roads and trails with sore bottoms and tired legs. Trailing along our southern route, we rode through quaint New England towns along rivers and rolling country roads where we stopped for rest and fueling of burgers and fries. Soon as we finished and hopped on our bikes, it started to rain. We were at a cross point on our journey at this moment, halfway to our destination. We had to make a decision about how we would handle the rain as it was not forecasting to end before sunset. With a whole lot of hesitation, we decided to head back to Jamaica State Park where our car was parked, two hours away from where we had stopped.

For most of the ride back, the rain was drizzling but as soon as temperatures dropped, that’s when the real suffering began. Cold, wet, sore, tired... I was at my tipping point. I couldn’t appreciate the beauty around me or share in the laughter of being caught in the rain. The quote “Doesn’t get any better than this…” certainly wasn’t funny anymore as we trailed back through muddied trails with wet socks. On top of the discomfort I was feeling, the choice to leave the trail ate away at me, I couldn’t accomplish what I had come out there for.

Once we had reached our car, my heart lightened, the frustration ceased and so did the rain. Luckily the park had one last unreserved open lean-in which we took with a view of the West River engulfed by mountains. I counted myself lucky by that point, at least we didn’t have to drive back home. As the sun started to set, we loaded firewood in the car and set up camp for our last night in Vermont. We wanted to finish what we came here for, even if it meant not being able to cycle to the Green Mountains.
Under the moon and stars, we stared into the campfire in silence. As I thought about the day a song by Neil Young came into mind, “Waging Heavy Peace” that I started to remember, “The moon means a lot to me, as does the forest. All things natural speak to me with a rhythm that I feel. There is no evil in the forest or moon. Or if there is, I don’t see it.” What I had come out to Vermont to do is to connect and escape in nature but what I acquainted myself with was the act of letting go.

I have a view that with every pedal up there is a fresh start at the top, a dedication to renew oneself, however, the longing for endless roads and trails also measures with how much you give to it. Many times on rides, I feel that I am searching for a balance between my expectations and the longing to lose myself. It’s a constant dialogue I have with the world and on the pavement where the road is the mirror which I reflect in. In these moments, I usually face my expectations and the reality I am in and tell myself to get up from the saddle and climb till I can’t go any further. Only this time, I couldn’t.

Staring into the fire, Vermont reminds me to let go of my expectations. Not just on the road but in life. As fire sparks escape, I imagine my expectations and limits drifting away with them and appreciate the moment. Although the tour was not rewarded with the view at the top of the Green Mountains that I had spent weeks dreaming about, I had felt tired and satisfied. Our little ride of 69 miles required little technical skills but heaps of patience and acceptance. Escaping was what I had come to do and although short lived, it was already full of the adventure I had come to see.

Cycling With Mogi

For the past two months I have been intensely training for my bike tour (that is actually next weekend!) With all the spin classes, runs, and weekend rides, my body has been feeling achy. As part of my training, yoga has become an important factor in helping my body recover. With the good weather we've had recently, my practice has me outdoors more, thanks to  Mogi, a yoga mat cycling pannier. 

Surviving Adventure Rides

 I've always been super impressed by the girls who set their minds on something and go after it. The girls who know the challenges ahead and figures out the unknown along the way. I've always been a planner. When there is something I strongly want to do, I like to secure things in place before I can actually plan and share it. Like this bike tour I'm doing in October. Since my decision, I've had weeks of planning and training to get me to this point of sharing. I think when it comes to making it a point of making an effort to adventure, we gotta go with the mindset of just do it and the rest will follow.

Ride In Style With Bandbox Helmets

Helmets have always been a tricky topic in the women's cycling community. From helmet hair to safety, the discussion about helmets have been never ending. However, safety for any cyclist is a top priority. No doubt, helmets do indeed save lives, yet, they have a very unflattering appeal to them that drive some people not to wear them. With a number of brands coming out of the woodwork to produce lovely cycling helmets, Bandbox LLC has been among the leading fashionable helmet brands making their mark in the industry.

Fall Cycling Tips

Fall is rapidly coming and we can't ignore it. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or newbie, you know the days are getting colder, nights getting longer, and with that comes changes in our riding routine. Despite darker and colder days, autumn is a great time to get those final miles in before winter. To help you set up for the changing season, I rounded up a comprehensive post to help you, and myself, stay on the road with some tips to guide our way through the golden season.

Bike Maintenance
It's important that we set our bikes up for autumn with a little TLC. If you're bike hasn't had any maintenance throughout summer, it may be worth sending your bike in for a tune up. Mechanics are more likely to thoroughly check all parts and give them a good clean or repair. Important components, like gears and chains, should be regularly maintained during the fall season to keep them in good shape so they keep you safe. Here are some way to maintain them:

Gears and Chains- If you know your bike is in good working order, maybe give it a little clean in the gears and chains. Add quality lube with a good wet chain oil to keep it moving better in wet weather.

Brakes - With any type of brake, it's important to know they are working smoothly. With brake pads, you need plenty of life in them to keep you going, especially when the roads start to get covered in leaves and water. Be sure to check them regularly and clean them from leaves, oils, or dirt to keep them in good quality shape.

Whilst in summer it was easy to forget about bike lights, the long dark days looming over us are a good reminder to dig them out. You may need to replace a battery, or charge them up to make sure they are working. I'd recommend that even in the daytime with fog, rain, or mist, that using bright lights is important to maintain safety for when conditions are the road are bad. Just remember, back lights are just as important as front lights to maintain your safety.

Hi-Vis Gear
Although lights are a legal requirement for cyclist, it's also recommended to stay extra visible during the daytime with hi-viz and reflective gear so that you'll be more noticeable. There are plenty of trousers, jackets, vests, panniers, and helmets on the market with plenty of reflective detailing to keep you noticed on a commute or ride. You can check out some of Bicycling mag's recommendations here.

Keep Dry
Often gear is designed not to just keep you safe but also dry. While cycling in the rain isn't ideal for anybody, a surprise rainfall and turning up to work or a social gathering wet isn't ideal either. Some ways to avoid getting drenched is to wear a waterproof cover, carry your items in a waterproof rucksack or pannier, and wear waterproof shoe covers. There are loads of waterproof brands on the market that often come with reflective details too. For more, you can check out Total Women's Cycling post on waterproof cycling gear.

Mudguards are to keep your tires from spraying your back with water, mud, and muck from the roads. Fall is the best time to put mudguards on your bike to help you avoid any unpleasant puddles from finding it's way onto your clothes and back. There are a few thing to keep in mind when you are choosing your mudguards for your bike. You should be sure to check if your bike is set up to place them on to get the most coverage which is dependent on your tires size, length, width, and whether your bike has enough clearance and eyelets to bolt mudguards in.

Carry A Spare
Even with all these items to help you stay dry, sometimes they just aren't enough. A rule of thumb for most commuters is to carry a spare. Basically a kit of extra dry clothes, toiletries, cosmetics, towels, etc. If you're out for a joy ride, I'm afraid carrying little kit is usually the rule of the game, which in that case, waterproof kit and gear are your friend.

It's nice being able to keep your bike and things in good shape but when cooler seasons creep along, so does the weight and SADs. With shorter days coming, our cycling mileage decreases. Often our fuel consumption should go down, however, our bodies naturally crave heavier food to keep our bodies warm. If you have a goal to maintain your fitness and develop endurance, keeping up the training program is a must to keep the weight down. If getting outside is an issue, indoor cycling/spin classes are a great way to keep the cycling muscles in shape. As a plus, you'll often be with like minded people in your area doing what you love together. If getting to a class is an issue, a stationary bike, rollers, or trainer is often a good option too.

Staying fit is just as important as eating right for the season. This is a huge one for me as I tend to crave heavier goods as it gets colder. Instead of giving into those cravings, I try adjusting to seasonal fruits and veggies. I've become great at making seasonal soups, juices, roasts, and salads as they are a great way to use seasonal produce while keeping my immune system up during flu season.

With longer darker days fatigue, seasonal sads, and lack of exercise tend to come as we start to hide indoors from the cold. Getting on your bike through fall has its positives for keeping fit throughout the season and better yet it's also a great way to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the coming winter blues. If you're feeling the side affects of seasonal changes, it can be difficult to get a regular routine on your bike but getting into a habit early can help you stay happy and well.

photo courtesy of cafeducycliste

Guest Post: Best Biking Trails in America

As I prepare for my bike tour in Maine, I have asked seasoned adventurists to share their experiences here on CGR on adventure cycling. Today I am delighted to introduce Kristin McManus of Cloud 9 Living, an experience gift company, who will share some of America's favorite trails from East to West to help you start planning for your next adventure on two wheels.
Cycling is perhaps one of the greatest ways to have an adventure in the great outdoors. There’s something about hopping on your bicycle and feeling the breeze on your skin as you ride. Depending on your skill level and overall adventure style, there’s a cycling adventure out there just for you.

It's About The Journey

When I moved out to the Hudson Valley, I had hoped to achieve something in my life, simplicity. Although buying a house doesn't exactly get rid of the responsibility of a mortgage, it does add a little stability. When you want simplicity, you also need stability. I haven't always been a stable person in the sense of where I live. I have moved to three different places in the last three years and have traveled plenty in between to almost render myself unstable every two months. When I return home from a trip, I find myself within the next week planning a trip somewhere else, often a place where I need to see people, family or friends, and often work comes along with me.

Grit Of The Grind

Going slowly, owning a few things, and using a few resources forces a simpler lifestyle. Within simplicity lies a world of breaking from the confines and anxieties of the Western world. A pared down life. It's what I have been longing for and hoping to achieve when I moved out of the Big Apple to the Hudson Valley. A town with no development but lakes, mountains, and trees was exactly the soothing landscape I needed to soothe my cravings. Cravings for adventure, nature, and freedom. I find in these long stretches of time spent on a hike or ride in the outdoors is the disconnect I need from the domestic to the primal, a world of realizations, gratitude, and simplicity.

Summer Cycling Tips

As a city girl, I've shared posts about summer bicycle lifestyle that shared information from summer hair tutorials to what to wear. Now that I live in upstate NY and road cycle, I'm having a whole other experience with the heat and humidity. Almost the kind that stops me in my tracks while I sweat through my kit while climbing, longing for the better days of cold summers in SF. With that said, I think I now have a better idea of how to beat the extreme heat while getting the most out of my ride. Whether you're on a group ride, solo ride, or bike packing, here are some tips to keep you feeling good on your bike this summer too.


Check the weather first thing so you can plan for hot weather riding. One thing I've learned to do is plan my rides early in the day while it's still cool. Sometimes that means waking up at 6am to eat and head out before the high sun starts to hit. You can also ride in the later afternoon while the sun is setting but there is nothing like the cool fresh morning air. If you're not very good at tolerating heat, acclimating and learning how to adjust to time and seasonal change can make your ride more comfortable when you find the right time and temperature to roll out.

Sun Proof
Riding a bike is good for your health and all that fresh air is good for your skin. However, we are more prone to sun damage, fatigue, and burnout on a hot day. As much as we are likely to achieve the striking cycling tan we all hope to have, we must pay a little more attention to the elements effect on our body and the gear we wear. Light-weight-SPF-proof-kits, caps, sun glasses, and a little sunscreen can go a long way in sun proofing yourself while getting the most out of your rides in the hotter seasons. 

Hair Proof 
Hair and heating can be an issue. I for one have thick, heavy, and dark Latin hair so my head tends to heat and sweat profusely. I'm not opposed to sweat but having a helmet with good ventilation is also key. When wearing a helmet, you can tie back your hair, wear a headband, or secure further in braids to keep your head breathing. If riding to a social event, take products or a comb with you to revive your style when you reach your destination. If you can't be bothered, you can always wear a cap. 

Hydrating before and after a ride is always a great idea. It's a given that consuming water during a ride will keep you hydrated but it's always best to plan for the ride and recovery. As cyclists, we can be a little obsessed with the science behind our bodies functions and needs with food so we spend our energy right without bonking. In my bike touring days, I was told to stock up on electrolytes, sodium, and protein for long rides under the hot sun, so keeping keeping some food on a ride is always a good idea too.

I always try to ride hot and humid days with a slower relaxed pace. Reducing wattage and intervals is sometimes necessary which I don't mind when there is a good opportunity to just enjoy the beautiful scenery but if I'm trying to stay on top of my training, I just cycle indoors on the trainer since I don't tolerate heat very well! Keeping a good pace on a hot day can be refreshing and give you plenty of wind along the way to keep your cool.

For those who are looking for summer commuter tips, you can check out this post here. All riders are different and have their preferences but we can all learn something from each other. With that said anyone have some experienced advice to share about what you do to manage cycling in hot weather? We can all use a little encouragement.

image: @ptrannomore

How To Style Cycling Kits

Cycle Style has been a huge trend in cycle commuting that has encouraged more women to bike how they like; in heels, skirts, on step through frames or fixed gears. This trend, which continues, has encouraged women to express their style while adopting a lifestyle on bike. However, when it comes to the track, group rides, or the peloton, the debate about cycling fashion is a different matter that comes down to comfort. Although women have a track history of abstaining from cycling wear because of their unappealing design and fit, the trend of women's specific kits is changing how women participate in cycling as a whole. As women's cycling teams and women's group rides grow, cycle style is taking on a whole new look for the fashionista who loves putting in serious miles without compromising comfort on the saddle.

My 8th Year Of The Cycling Life

This year marks the 8th year of what I adopted as the cyclists lifestyle. Cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Brooklyn have all been a very important part of this lifestyle transition where commuting by bike has gotten me from a to b in a city. However, cycling has become so much more than a commuter lifestyle. Personally, it's the adventure I seek everyday after my day job, my community, the country roads, the scenery, the wild nature of it all.  In a way, the cycling lifestyle has become a culture of my own, a lingo, a lifestyle, and a camaraderie that I cannot find outside of cycling.

Gear Up For Spring Cycling

For anyone who is currently unaware, Spring is here! Well, at least it's becoming more clear in NY this week. While I'm coming out of winters resting period, I'm also excited for this time of renewal and pedaling. To welcome showers, flowers and everything in between, I thought I'd do a little digging in the archive to help build up your dream rides with some tips for cycling into Spring. While your filling your days aching for warmer weather and bicycle adventures from picnics to climbing rolling hills, dust off your bicycles and get ready to head out with a little spring in your pedal with these tips.

Cycling In Florida

Greetings. I just got back from Florida a few days ago and feel like the last two weeks have been a dream. While I was there for a short while, my initial feelings upon returning was that I didn't have enough. I attempted to tackle this holiday with the determination of cycling as far as I could to see as much as possible, always with the view of the more you put in, the more you take away. Memories, sunrises, and experiences are the things I collect and treasure the most, no matter how little sleep I get. The great thing about Florida is that it is full of so many surprises and this trip I didn't want to waste laying by the pool.

Last year I shared with you my first experience of biking in Florida. I was surprised at first sight and found myself to be continually impressed. There is always a new route, a new trail, a new view and lush parks and beaches to drink in. When settling in this year, I was looking forward to getting back into the routine of living in endless summer: biking off road, walking the beach, swimming the ocean, running trails, lunch on the terrace, happy hour with friends, dinner with family, and dancing. Florida has the effect of putting me in a deep relaxed state of mind and body that it gets hard to leave.

This trip, I didn't want to miss out. I knew that if I wanted to experience the part of Florida I was in, I would have to do so on bike. I knew from our first time here that there were many rentals from the resort to the bike shop down the road from us that we would have an assortment of specific riding bikes from beach cruisers, mountain, and road bikes to choose from. Since we were near so many parks, I often opted for a mountain bike. If I learned anything from last year, it's that mountain biking in Florida is great, everyone does it and loves it.

There is something great about cycling in a place so tropical. It's almost a feast of the senses. It's bewilderingly humid, breezy with the smell of sea air, with endless palm trees and beaches bordering the Atlantic coastline. In my final evening, I cycled to the beginning of one of my favorite nearby beaches and caught the most beautiful sunset I have seen. The water and sky was bathed in a purple hue, as the sun slowly sunk into the horizon opposite, lighting up the sky with intense shades of orange and pink. It was in that moment that I appreciated Florida. I watched the waves lap against one another, listening to their gentle sounds on the shore. It felt as though I had the whole sea to myself that I let myself get completely lost in the moment, reminding me why I travel and cycle to experience this.

To see more of my trip to Florida, scroll along my Instagram gallery here.

Indoor Miles

This year has been an incredibly busy year. With a new house, new town, renovations, and winter, I haven't been able to get on my bike outside as much as I like to. To remedy that I recently bought an indoor turbo trainer to help me keep up my fitness on bike so when Spring arrives I'm ready to hit the trails and rides. I consider myself an amateur when it comes to indoor training but with a few weeks of testing out my trainer I found that it's effective and convenient. Indoor training can be demanding with interval sessions at maximum efforts but the nice thing about it not having to worry about cars, slippery roads, snow, mud, or gravel. After having a few weeks of sessions, here's what I found that helped me improve my indoor training.

Kits For Women, By Women

Over the years of cycling, I have watched the slow growth of women's specific products by major cycle industry providers, while women's specific bike shops like Cycle ChicVeloVixenPedal ChicCycling For GirlsTerry BicyclesTeam EstrogrenLiv Cycling, and Eleanor's NYC have come out of the battle to meet the demands of women. While the availability of women's kits and accessories by major brands have been accessible to women online, florals, pinks, and paisley patterns don't speak to many women who have a knack for stylish and form fitting bike wear.

Bike Talk: The Bicycle Is a Symbol Of Freedom

Today is a special day for women around the world. As we celebrate International Women's Day, we must remember the role of the bicycle in women's empowerment and history. This is an old post I wrote five years ago that still rings true for many of us women on bikes today. 

Many times we've heard this quote by Susan B. Anthony who once said, "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

Bike Talk: What Cycling Has Taught Me

I believe that cycling has been the catalyst that has helped me come in to my body to learn how to instinctively listen to the push and pulls of life. For seven years now, cycling has been the most empowering journey of self-discovery and healing for me. From crashes, sprained wrists, break-ups, stolen bikes, and new beginnings, I have learned some of the most valuable lessons of life on the road.

Get Lost

A few things in life make me happier than combining my passion for cycling, travel, and exploration. Mostly by choice, I do most of my exploring on my own, which sometimes leads me to getting lost. I consider myself a great navigator, reading maps and learning directions by memory used to be a favorite pass time, but I'm a firm believer that some of my most memorable experiences and adventures have happened in the process of finding my way or getting lost.

Book Review: The Velocipede Races

Bicycles and books. Two of my favorite things. When Elly Blue linked a Kickstarter fund of a book covered with a large neon pink corset and Victorian silhouette holding a vintage racing bicycle, I had to find out what it was all about. Which lead me to finding The Velocipede Races by Emily June Street. As I wondered onto Microcosm Publishing's website, I read a synopsis of "tough girl rebels against stifling gender rules... dreaming of racing her bicycle in the cutthroat velocipede races..." Already, I had found a kindred spirited character and began to download it onto my Kindle.

City To Country

Even when living in cities, I longed for quiet roads to venture on by bike. Riding through crowded streets provided an adrenaline that kept me alive through the many obstacles that the city threw. I had to learn to be quick, strong, and risk taking. All these things I carry when riding through country roads and open spaces. The obstacles still require me to be quick and risky but I have to become stronger. The escape from the city to more simpler terms of living in the country also brings along it's challenges on bike.

Riding In The Depths Of Winter

Riding amongst the sludge and chill wind, waves of breathlessness floats me up the road and goosebumps rise on my arms as I rip over hill tops. From the middle of the street I could feel the surge of grace as the chill wind blows and swoops me into town like a flock of birds finding formation, heartbeats loud again. I'm alive, heart racing, but inspired and well.

Resolution Bike More

So many of us probably have told ourselves that we will bike more this year. Trust me, I've been telling myself that everyday. Yesterday I got to thinking about the former girl that started this blog. I was in my early twenties, living in San Francisco, biking to school, work, and home. My life revolved around commuting by bike. Now, my life is very different. I work from home, drive to the market (20 miles), and spend most of my recreational time hiking with my dog and fiance in the woods that surround us. It's a complete change.

New Year, New Adventure

Happy belated New Year friends. It was a very busy 2015 and so far a very busy start to 2016. As some followers may know, a year ago, I thought of giving up this blog because of the direction my life was going. My story had changed when my now fiance and I planned to buy a house outside of New York. We wanted to live simply, sustainably, and well. Moving out of NYC meant that city girl rides was no longer in a city to bike. But just because I was moving location, my passion for cycling didn't stop, so I decided I would continue with creating content.
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