Winter Riding in California

Depending on where you live in the world, riding during the winter season presents a unique set of challenges.  Last month, we shared Rachel’s perspective on preparing for unpleasant winter weather conditions.  However, Matt Behrens–who hails from San Luis Obispo, in Southern California–has a very different story to tell.  Here are some of his favorite tricks to get the most out of winter training in a part of the world where cold isn’t much of an issue:

Living on the central coast of California, “winter” is a relative term. While mid 60’s and sun are the norm, SLO is also known for heavy rain in the winter months. Since I almost never have to deal with extreme cold, the only thing that might keep me inside is that heavy rain. I’ve picked up tidbits of knowledge as to what trails and areas drain well and which ones don’t. That is key. If I plan my ride and route accordingly I can almost always enjoy tacky trails without encountering serious mud.

In the winter months, my training goals dictate that I ride mainly on the road bike. This part of the season is where I build up my fitness with pure volume of saddle time, so that when the spring races eventually roll around I am able to fine tune my fitness by already having a solid base to build off of. This means lots of long, sometimes boring or difficult hours. I’m a pretty mentally active person, and for most rides under an hour and a half, I can keep myself content and engaged on my own. Once I start to push the ride time to two, three, or four hours I need something else to pass the time. That comes in the form of music and podcasts. Some of my favorite listening material includes E-40, G-Easy, Velonews Fast Talk, and RFI Journal en francais. I find it really easy to get settled into a ride with a podcast and 50 miles later I’m still mentally fresh and haven’t thought about the building fatigue as the miles tick by. During the winter months, I can easily listen to over 16 hours of music and podcasts per week while on the road bike. For me, anything that helps keep me motivated and mentally fresh during hard and long training blocks is invaluable. I should also mention that as a personal policy, I do not ride my mountain bike with headphones in. I find that I need to be able to hear when other trail users are coming for everyone’s safety.

Training in the winter months is always one of my favorite parts of the year, I get to ride as long and as much as I want without having to focus on races in the near future. I try to develop attitudes during the winter that will keep me motivated throughout the rest of the year.

-Matt Behrens

Check out some of Matt’s Training rides on his Strava page.