Sixty percent chance of rain . . . riding or not? Strong winds blowing, and temperatures are dropping . . . riding or not? Everybody loves to ride when it’s 65 degrees and partly sunny, but do you love the sport of cycling enough to ride when it’s the conditions are not so ideal? I think I just heard someone say, “It’s bad on my bike. I would do it, but I don’t want to trash my bike.” Okay, I’ll give you that (and it bothers me too), but I’m not talking about a monsoon with heavy lightening and possible hail. The problem comes when we watch the radar, looking for any green speck, just to have an excuse not to train.
Someone told me a while back that it is important to train in various weather conditions due to the fact that you must learn how you and your bike react in certain conditions. What if the weather suddenly shifts in a race or a century ride? I’ve seen people on group rides of 100+ riders suddenly drop out and seek shelter, feeling the first drop of rain. I know it’s not fun when you’re in a long pace line and water is spraying off of the bike in front of you. Weather is what separates the peddlers from the cyclists. I know that braking is different, the tires lose their grip, vision is reduced, and you are simply soaked to the bone, but improving your skill on the bike when the weather doesn’t cooperate is a trait many ignore. Even learning how to ride in strong cross winds, tail winds, or head winds is a good weapon to have in your belt. For example, a stage in the Tour de France this year was decimated by cross winds. When Jens Voigt was asked later how to predict the break-up and make the jump, he simply stated that the team trains in winds like that to learn what to do and what not to do.
Embrace the weather, good or bad. If you train to be a serious cyclist, then be serious when it comes to training. If not, just rent some bikes on the Riverwalk and peddle around when it’s a beautiful day. I’m not knocking you, if that is what you like. But if you are in the sport to become better, then train to equal that. If you could get stronger and faster by only riding when everything is perfect, I’d be right there with you. Of course, that is not the case with anything connected to the real world. A man, concerning hard work, once said, “The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.”