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Get on your bikes and ride!

Don't let the cold keep you from cycling

POSTED: November 19, 2008 10:06 p.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Mike Long wears a heart rate monitor so he can make sure he keeps his heart rate up during less strenuous winter rides.

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Think now that the temperature has dropped, exercising outdoors isn't an option? Well, area cyclists might disagree.

Lloyd Unnold, secretary for Gainesville-based Chicken City Cyclists, said cold weather is no excuse not to go for a ride. In fact, cyclists look forward to the relief from summer's heat.

"We ride somewhere in Northeast Georgia just about every Saturday, and the only real stipulation we have that is different during the winter is, if it's not going to be predicted to be a high of (more than) 45, we generally won't ride," Unnold said. "But a lot of times we do anyway, because of where we're going or what the conditions may be."

He said he actually prefers riding in the cold rather than when it's hot.

"The summer heat really, to me, is more dangerous, because you're not really aware of it. You're out there, you may get excessively sunburned or heat stroked and not really realize it, where in the winter you know when you're cold or when you're getting chilled, and you tend to do something more about it," Unnold said.

But rain is a different matter.

The main concern for cyclists, Unnold said, is precipitation. This can cause discomfort and dangerous roads.

"The winter rides, primarily, if we think it's going to be rain or snow or anything like that, that's going to be one of the main factors. We can't afford to be wet and cold at the same time," Unnold said.

Clothes, added Tom Hughes, owner of Biketown USA in Gainesville, can make the cold more bearable.

"Winter clothing gives you more protection," Hughes said. "Tights, winter gloves and wool socks and stuff like that. ... You just have to prepare more with your clothing."

And if the time change has put you off your exercise routine, don't feel left out - it has caused cyclists to change their routines a bit, too. Unnold said the Chicken City Cyclists' weekly Wednesday ride, which takes place at 6 p.m., has to be canceled because of the time change.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of our rides will be during daylight, but I do have a blinking taillight and headlight I can use if caught out or for added safety, like fog or even tunnels up the Blue Ridge Parkway," he said.

Hughes said it's also a good idea to put flashers on your bike when it gets dark earlier.

But for cyclists who don't like the cold, or have trouble fitting a ride in during daylight hours, Unnold said spin classes can make up for the lack of exercise.

Unnold said some classes can get boring, but he enjoys attending a class taught by his son, Scott Unnold, at Fitness Forum in Gainesville.

"It's not boring because he is a bona fide bike rider, and he sets it up to be like you're out riding a bike," said Unnold. "There's intervals, he crosses stuff up, you jump off the bike, you do some push-ups and stuff like that, or you're spinning hard, or you're trying to climb a hill. You can visualize this stuff, and of course he plays his hard-beating music loud."

Hughes said the shop also offers spinning classes beginning on Nov. 24 "if you're an avid cyclist that wants to keep in shape."


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