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Winter Riding Destinations

Some of my best and worst memories of riding bikes are from the middle of winter. When the snow would start to fall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I can remember taping garbage bags to myself before hitting the road in an effort to stay somewhat dry and warm. My water bottle would be frozen solid usually by the fifth mile and all feeling in my fingers and toes would be gone by the sixth. The 3, 4, or sometimes 5 hours of riding were always miserable, but the feeling of satisfaction upon finishing a big training day in these kinds of conditions made it all worth it.

Since turning professional, I have been fortunate to spend the majority of my winter months in the warm California sun. While I sometimes miss that feeling of accomplishment after finishing 40 miles of wet, freezing riding through snow and ice, I definitely prefer short sleeves and sunscreen through the rolling hills of Cali. With that, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite winter riding spots:

Death Valley

death valley cyclingWith sunshine just about every single day and temps usually in the mid 70s, Death Valley is a cycling paradise during the winter months. Many of the roads see very little traffic and whether you like rollers or long climbs, there are plenty of both to keep everyone happy. In this photo, you have the lowest point in the continental United States down below at -282 feet (Badwater.) It sits over 5,500 ft below this lookout, which is known as Dante's View. The ride from Badwater to Dante's is about 60 miles and uphill the entire time, reaching grades of 15-18% towards the end.

 

 

 

Placerville

cycling in placervilleAbout 50 miles west of South Lake Tahoe, Placerville, CA has some of my favorite road riding on the west coast; but you have to know where to look. Many of the roads are busy, rough, and just sketchy. However, if you pick the right network of backroads, you can ride for hours up and down the steep California foothills without seeing a single car on perfectly smooth asphalt. This is the only place I've ever ridden where you can find paved single-lane roads that are well over a 20% grade for several miles. When I need to work on climbing, Placerville is my go-to destination.

 

 

 

 

Folsom

ktm cyclingWhile the lake isn't much these days, the trails around Folsom are awesome. They have a little bit of everything with a wide variety of features. Most are pretty technical with short, punchy climbs rather than the long, relentless hills I'm used to in Tahoe. With different trailheads all around the area, piecing together a 50 mile ride is no problem, making it a worthy mountain bike destination if you're looking for a long ride.


Snow Covered Roads Leading to Solace

Ice covered roads lead to some beautiful places.

The sun shines in through the car window, beaming warmth onto your bare arms. Songs of the day move through the speakers, through your hair, through the wind. The open road seems endless. Pavement stretches for miles and miles. Gas stations become fewer and farther between. When the car is stopped, the air is still. You take a moment to pull over, snap a photo of the landscape so that you dare...


Base Training 101

For the majority of the endurance sports world, these winter months are reserved for long miles as we get back into the swing of things from our holiday breaks. As a professional cross country mountain bike racer, my winter is no different. These long rides are what make up the portion of training referred to as base training, and it's arguably the most important part of the year. Done right, base training can get you down to "race weight", tremendously improve metabolism, fine tune your aerobic engine, and strengthen everything from skeletal muscles...


The Finish Line is The Beginning

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My first race was a half...


Gobi Race Report: Part 3 – Stage 4 to Post-Race Wrap-Up

When I awoke on the morning of Stage 4, lacing my shoes up was just about the last thing I wanted to do. These multi-day races are a unique beast. You experience the high's and low's of racing each day, but that can also be transposed to the week. Having just passed the halfway point, I was struggling with motivating myself to continue. However, this would be the last of the shorter stages leading up to the long march to come in Stage 5. That's the test in the stage race. Can you keep pushing day after day after...


Water – The Importance of Staying Hydrated for Athletes

Hydration is arguably the most critical factor not only for good health, but also in the development of athletic pursuits. Drinking water is particularly important for athletes because the nature of their activities lend to using up stores more quickly.  For individuals participating in sports, careful monitoring of water intake to insure they are getting adequate amounts to stay hydrated is imperative.

The body is made up of 70% water and water is considered to be the second most critical factor in which life is dependent upon, the first being oxygen.  Because water makes up a considerable part of the...


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