This year, we closed out our season with an awesome little weekender in our own backyard. We were excited to revisit Russian River, and to explore more of what this incredible corner of California has to offer, but apparently Mother Nature didn’t get the memo. Driving out of the Bay Area with a mind to do some serious riding, the forecast was for rain, rain, and more rain.
But what are you gonna do? We had 300 kilometres on the slate and we weren’t about to cut it short just because of a little water. And when you’re riding roads like these, you don’t mind so much. The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly tackling King Ridge, a secluded, twisting masterpiece of a climb tucked away in the North Bay hills. It’s the jewel in the crown of cycling in Sonoma, and was once the centerpiece of the late, great Coors Classic professional road race. Rain or shine, it’s a beauty.
We’ve always thought that winter riding was fun, and even more so these days, because these days people like our friends at Giordana are making incredible kit that will keep you warm and dry no matter the conditions.
And we’re not the only ones who think this way, either. Ted King, a 10-year veteran of the pro peloton and a witness to the fun that was to be had on our little Russian River adventure, says that the off-season is a time to go easy on yourself and ride your bike for the simple joy of it.
“A trip like Russian River is icing on the cake. The inGamba guys head over to Europe and showcase some of the finest riding the world has to offer in Chianti, the Dolomites, and Portugal. But truth be told, they know that their backyard here in Northern California has some of the world’s best riding too.
“Beyond every corner, around ever turn, behind every hill lies another phenomenal place to ride a bike. I’m lucky enough to call the Bay Area home these days so it’s my backyard now too.” Ted also had some advice for the real riders who refuse to hang up their wheels until spring.
“When the days become shorter and the temperature drops, any time you can commit to the bike is valuable,” says the New Hampshire native. “Don’t let yourself get down if you don’t see the same volume you can commit in season. That’s to be expected. Enjoy the waves and variation you find over the course of the entire year.”
Adrien Costa, the 19-year-old sensation from Stanford who is currently making a big impression on both sides of the Atlantic echoes King.
“Winter training is undoubtedly my favorite part of the year,” says Costa, who won the Tour de Bretagne this spring, finished second at the Tour of Utah and made the podium at the Tour de l’Avenir, the most prestigious event in world cycling for young talent.
“Ideally, you’ve just taken a good bunch of time off the bike, and both your body – with a little thicker layer of insulation – and your mind, more motivated than ever, are ready to tackle the long base miles in the cold. Winter riding is all about enjoyment. The race season is months away still, so you can ride your bike like a kid again, for the simple love of it.
“You go out with friends, chatting away, messing around, developing relationships like none other, as you push yourselves out of the comfort zone, while finding comfort in the company. For me it’s about exploring crazy gravel roads, or connecting routes in fun new ways you’d never thought possible before. And it’s always nice to have the promise of that warm coffee shop waiting, just down the road, where a hot chocolate and crumbly cookie await your cold, tired, and happy body.”
“My training always started November 1st for the new season,” says João Correia, inGamba’s founder and former Cervelo Test Team rider. “Something about a new beginning always got me excited and weight management was always a bit of an issue – especially with two major eating holidays in the last two months of the year!
“For me, the key was to always try and find the balance and trying to come into those two holidays ahead of schedule so that I didn’t feel guilty about what I ate or drank. But now, not being a professional athlete anymore I worry less about it. Two of the strategies that worked well for me were curbing alcohol and sugar intake.
“I’d set goals of no alcohol use until Thanksgiving so that I could enjoy it and the same for cutting sugar in my coffee, which after a couple of weeks you actually get used to. As I’ve gotten older it’s become harder and harder to keep the weight off but those strategies still work when I can stay focused and stick to them. It isn’t easy, but making a plan and sticking to it is key. And when you can’t stick to it, it’s about trying to let it go and hopping straight back on that plan.”
Need some winter threads? We’ve got you covered. Literally. Check out the awesome range of custom Giordana winter clothing in our store.