cycling · fall · fitness · season transitions · snow · winter

The seasons of cycling

When I first started riding a bike as an adult, I commuted in the winter but recreational riding came to an end with the snow and the cold. Fun riding was summer riding on my road bike with skinny tires in the sunshine. I trained indoors all winter but I did it for the sake of summer riding.

Over the years I’ve changed, as a cyclist, and I’ve come to appreciate the change of seasons for the different kinds of riding it brings.

For me fall means the return of my adventure road bike and fun riding on gravel. It’s my go-to commuting bike but it’s also good for weekend country rides. We dial back the distance and go out for an hour or two on bike trails. It’s relaxing to ride with no cars in sight. This past weekend Sarah and I did some riding in Turkey Point. See the gallery below.

I’ve got my eyes on the Guelph to Goderich rail trail too.

But it’s not just the fall and cyclocross/gravel riding. I’m also looking forward now to the winter and to riding in the snow on my fat bike. It’s a fun and joyful way to play in the snow on bikes. Check out my smile!

I think I’ve honestly come to love all the seasons of cycling. They’re different things, each with their own kind of pleasure.

Some road riding friends don’t get it. They question the fitness benefits of fat bike riding. They ask about my heart rate and training zones. I say that’s not the point. I don’t fess up that I am not even wearing a heart rate monitor. I’m doing it for fun and for mental health benefits. I need to be outside in the winter. I love riding through the woods. Fat bike riding makes me feel like a kid again as I ride over all sorts of obstacles in my path.

I still ride inside all winter. I put a road bike on a trainer and ride virtually in Zwift. That’s fun too and that I do do for fitness reasons.

Fat biking? That’s for fun and the love of riding a bike.

I’m now the kind of cyclist who loves all the seasons of cycling. See you out there in autumn, winter, spring, and summer!

How about you? Do you ride year round? How many seasons of cycling do you like?

fitness · menopause · swimming · winter

Swimming in the cold, brrr!


I love swimming outside. But I hate being cold. Probably that means I should live somewhere else! Bora Bora was lovely. See above.

The other day this came through my social media newsfeed: The remarkable health benefits of cold water swimming. That article focuses mainly on the mental health benefits of swimming in cold water, especially helping with depression. But it’s also said to be great for relieving the symptoms of menopause.

It’s said to be all the rage: Why wild swimming in depths of winter is the new natural high. I love being outside. I love being in the water. But I prefer it if the water is hot! See Sam’s day at the spa. On my spa day I did dump a couple of buckets of cold water over my head after the too hot sauna but I couldn’t get myself to swim in the river. Next time I’ll try it. Promise.

How about you? Tempted to swim in the cold water outside?

cycling · fitness · snow · walking · winter

Best laid plans… but Sam gets some movement in anyway

So Saturday of our winter weekend getaway I thought I’d try a beginner’s ski lesson. But that wasn’t to be. It was cold, really cold, -25 and windy cold. It was also icy. Instead of light puffy snow there was hard, cold ice.

See this sign? Marginal conditions, skiing not recommended. Great. Even the ski instructors weren’t that enthusiastic. Try another time, they suggested.

Image description: A red sign on a white ski hill. In both languages it says marginal conditions, skiing not recommended.

Instead, I went for a long walk up the hill and wandered around the shops at the base of the mountain. I stopped for lunch solo while braver, much more experienced, souls were off skiing. I’m better about eating alone at restaurants these days. I positively enjoyed it. And don’t panic. There was rice underneath. I haven’t abandoned carbs.

When I got back to the hotel I changed and wandered down to the fitness centre. It was small but with a lovely view. They had treadmills and nice spin bikes (guess which I chose?) a bench and dumbbells. That’s enough to keep me busy. So I watched an episode of Sex Education and pedaled away. It wasn’t my first choice of activities but it felt good. Sunday we all abandoned skiing and went to the spa.

health · nature · snow · winter

Sam Goes to a Spa. Yes, Really.

So I went to a spa. First time ever. First pedicure a couple of years ago (never since!) and now the spa.

What next? What’s the world coming to?

I’m just joking (sort of). In my mind spas aren’t meant for me. Like pedicures, I think of spas as a THING RICH PEOPLE DO.

It’s not that I don’t spend money on luxurious things, like expensive bicycles, I do. And it’s not like I don’t spend $60 (the price of spa admission) on meals or concerts pretty regularly. I do.

But for reasons of family background in the first part of my life and resisting normative feminity, in the second, spas have never been on my radar. I’m the kind of person who didn’t have nail polish or make up for my own wedding. I did my own hair and it was touch and go whether I’d shave my legs.

I resisted getting a hot tub at our old house for years but then loved it and used it lots. I love sitting outside, in the heat, surrounded by snow and ice. I loved soaking after long rides and tough Aikido classes. My highlight of my holiday in Iceland a few years ago was soaking in a hot river after a long hike.

We went to the Scandinavian Spa on the Sunday of our weekend at Mount Tremblant when it was too cold and icy to ski or fat bike. I loved how much of it was outdoors. I really liked the steam rooms and the sauna and the hot tub but probably my favorite thing was relaxing in front of a fire outside wearing a bathrobe while covered in a giant warm fuzzy blanket. I loved basking in the sun, surrounded by trees and snow.

Some quick observations:

I loved wandering around outside in a bathrobe and bathing suit in the middle of winter. I love the outdoors and I’m almost always happier in the sun.

I’m so glad it was a silent place. I realize that I’m quiet anyway but I was so glad I didn’t have to listen to other people’s conversations. I found that really relaxing. I didn’t mind the other people there with everything quiet.

There are a lot of beautiful bodies out there. But it’s mostly the women who are on display. That’s no surprise but I forget that sometimes. I saw a lot of women in thong bathing suits with men in baggy board shorts. What’s with that?

I loved the idea of swimming in the river in the freezing cold water between hot things but I couldn’t make myself do it. Instead I settled for the cold bucket of water over the head a couple of times. That actually felt pretty refreshing.

I didn’t count the spa time as a workout though it turns out that time in hot water does have similar health benefits to exercise.

I’d definitely go again.

commute · cycling · snow · winter

Happy belated winter bike to work day! #WBTWD

Friday was Winter Bike to Work Day but I missed it. I was in Toronto for a concert Thursday night and took the Greyhound back to Guelph Friday morning. No bike for me!

I said on Friday, I’d ride today. And then the forecast. More “special weather.” Snow, blowing snow, winds. All this on top of ice from last week’s “special weather.” On the upside, only -7. Whee!

I was still on the fence when the Finnish embassy shared this photo.

Image may contain: bicycle and outdoor

“1000 out of 1200 kids in this school in Oulu, Finland, arrive by bicycle, even in winter. 100-150 walk, rest by ski, kicksleds and car. This day it was -17°C. “

My Finnish friends all shared it approvingly in light of Ontario school and university closures last week.

So in the end, I rode my bike to work. I figured the worse that would happen is that I’d walk my bike and walking was my back up choice anyway. The side streets were too slippy, snow over ice. The bike path on the main road hadn’t been plowed. So I took the lane and rose with traffic. It was fine. No one was going anywhere fast anyway.

And here I am at work.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses, outdoor and nature
cycling · triathalon · winter

Clermont riding in January Sunshine

This past week Sarah and I took our bikes apart, packed them in boxes with our helmets, shoes, and cycling clothes and hopped on a plane to a place where it was warm enough to ride them.

I’ve done a few different kinds of winter riding somewhere warm. I loved my luxury Arizona cycling tour. I also loved South Carolina training camp. Both were beautiful. Both had their charms.

This year was a new thing though. No group. Just Sarah and me, meeting up with Jeff in Florida who is there with his boat. (Follow his boating adventures here.)

Originally we’d thought about the Florida Keys but that didn’t fit with Jeff’s schedule. Instead, we decided to meet up in the middle of Florida in an area Chris Helwig, my former London cycling coach, visits for riding every January.


Where’s Clermont? Smack dab in the middle of the state. It’s a great area for cycling. Lots of rolling hills and even a serious climb or two, some great rail trails, and quiet country roads flanked by beautiful trees covered in Spanish moss and miles and miles of orange orchards.


It’s also home to the National Training Centre. There’s a big pool, group rides, and regular timed runs. Triathletes everywhere!

What makes a place good for cyclists? Varied terrain, for sure. Warm weather. Now Florida had its own version of the polar vortex so it was cold for locals. But 13 degrees is just fine for bike riding and by the time we left it was in the 20s again.

There were lots of cyclists. Just having the numbers makes a difference. I loved a sign that read “You are entering a high activity cycling area. Watch for bikes.”

The roads mostly had bikes lanes. There were also paved paths not besides the road. And in the rare case that there wasn’t a seperate bike lane there were signs alerting drivers that cyclists had the right to use the full lane.

We stayed in the Clermont Cabanas on Lake Minneola so we’d have our own kitchen and space to relax after riding. That turned out to be a great choice

We had four solid days of riding, about 270 km all told, including a day of big hills. It was nice to have route maps all planned. Thanks Chris!


Here we are at the top of Sugarloaf


We did a long ride into the countryside.


And we really enjoyed the 20 mile West Orange Trail.

Oh, and after the hill day I even persuaded Sarah to give Yoga with Adrienne a try. She has a special workout just for cyclists.

We’ll back back, maybe next time with more fit feminist friends. I like you Clermont. What a great way to close out January.
cycling · winter

Join me on Friday, Feb 8, 2019 for #WinterBikeToWorkDay

Winter commute Ottawa bike style!

Winter Bike To Work Day 

Some people are calling it International Winter Bike to Work Day but I’ve spent enough time in Australia and New Zealand to know that it’s not winter everywhere in February. Cyclists there are battling record breaking heat waves. I think I’d rather ride in the snow.

I’ve written about how to bike in the snow and the cold and now if you’re so inclined, join me! Oh, and send me your pictures with a brief caption and I’ll share them on the blog after!

A black and white photo of a person riding a bike on snowy night.
Photo by olli ko on Unsplash