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Cycling Skills: Riding Winter Roads

A week ago, the northeast was the victim of a brutal snowstorm that buried parts of New England under up to 21" of snow.  Heavy, wet, tree snapping, power killing snow.  Now, not only did this put all but the most dedicated hard men inside due to precipitation and frigid temperatures, it's raised the spectre of "winter roads."  You see, now that winter has reared it's ugly head, we're left with roads covered in salt, cinders, leaves, branches and other debris.  Staying safe on "winter roads" can be fraught with proverbial potholes, so here's a few tips to make the ride smoother (and safer.)

 

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Cycling Skills: Riding Dirt Roads

Riding on dirt roads[dc]A[/dc]hh fall…the time of year when a young cyclist's fancy turns to thoughts of wind vests, leg warmers and dirt roads.  No, I'm not talking about giving up your skinny tires for the thick tired, mosquito infested world of mountain bikes.  I'm talking about throwing out your inhibitions and take the left turn down the road that you've passed by a hundred times before.  I'm talking about riding across that asphalt/dirt demarcation with confidence and a smile.  I'm talking about not being afraid to bring your bike home looking like it's more a 'cross bike than a road bike.  But like riding in the rain, a few simple precautions can make the ride easier and (dare I say) more fun.

Dirt Road Mentality

After having led rides on dirt and talked to the people that partake in them, the overwhelming impression of dirt virgins is as follows:  "I'm going to destroy my bike" or "I'm going to crash."  In reality, the mentality of riding dirt roads is somewhat comparable to the mentality of riding on wet roads.  "Trust your skills and trust your bike" are the mantras that should go through your mind as you hit some unpaved territory.  Trusting your bike is a no brainer; the pros ride the same bikes over terrain that is often worse than what we'll find on any backroad (compare the cobbles of Paris Roubaix to the dirt road down the street and tell me which is worse…)  Trusting your skills can be a little harder to get comfortable with, so let's explain the "get back, get low, stay seated and go" philosophy of riding dirt roads. (more…)