11/30/2017, Canyon Winter Training Getaways
FIVE BEST PLACES TO RIDE IN WINTER
It’s official; the leaves have not only been falling; they’ve fallen. Perhaps there’s even been some snow. Does that mean bundling up and having hot chocolate by the fire? Heck no! There’s still plenty of awesome riding across the country. Here’s our look at five of our favorite places to pedal. Pull on an extra layer and join us…
Mountain bikes and margaritas. What could be better?
Southern Arizona has some of the richest mountain biking culture in America, and it’s for good reason; the year-round riding is exceptional. From a strong road cycling culture like El Tour de Tucson to tons of University of Arizona students riding between classes, the Southern Arizona town has been a true cycling mecca.
And with the heat of summer in the rear-view mirror late fall/early winter is some of the best riding around, especially on the dirt. Those that love the challenge of dry, rocky, loose singletrack mountain biking and can manage the heavy penalty for going off trail (cactus!), you’ll be rewarded with some of the most amazing vistas.
Head to the westside of town for some rugged riding along the six miles of the Yetman Trail, or link up with the nine miles of the Starr Pass Main Loop. Or head north to Oro Valley to train on the trails as you prep for the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo. Check out mtbproject.org for a look at all the amazing options. And celebrate afterward with some of the best Mexican food in America… and that margarita.
If you’re a triathlete, Kona is the epicenter. And where better a place than to ride than on the course where legends (including reigning Ironman World Champ Patrick Lange and two-time Kona champ Jan Frodeno) are made every October? Roll onto the Queen K Highway, tuck into the aerobars and do your best to battle the winds and the heat. And even in November, it’s plenty warm.
Add to the training aspect is the ability to bring the family. When it’s not overrun with triathletes in October, Kailua-Kona has plenty of hotels and shopping and superb dining along Ali'i Drive, where Ironman athletes begin the marathon during the race. The waterfront is also host to Magic Sands and Kahaluu Beach. Grab a fresh poke bowl lunch at Da Poke Shack and you’re set for a perfect post-ride beach holiday that feels more like a summer getaway.
OK, it might be wet. This is Seattle, after all.
But if you love cyclo-cross, who wants dry and sunny conditions anyway? Mud and slop looks better for the photos. The Pacific Northwest serves up some of the truest Belgian-style cross conditions in the U.S.
The area is host to several local cross series through the fall and into the winter, so you can put your practice to work, and stay warm with a good coffee. (And no, just because Starbucks began in Seattle doesn’t mean that’s the only coffee to drink up there!)
Park City, Utah
We have long loved summer mountain bike rides along the Wasatch Crest. But when the snow starts falling, there’s more to do than to grab skis. The local community has been active in converting multi-use trails into fatbike trails when the white stuff starts falling, with Round Valley providing free access to groomed trails throughout the late fall and winter months.
Be sure to check with local shops that lead fat bike tours of the area trails, and visit mountaintrails.org for up-to-date trail conditions. Afterward, hit downtown Park City and its collection of fantastic eateries to replenish the calories you spent pedaling over the pow. Our favorite? High West Distillery & Saloon. You can thank us later.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
There’s a reason many pro cycling teams have historically picked the Santa Barbara area as a base for spring training camps; the weather is stable, and road riding options are boundless. Whether it’s flat riding, open rolling roads or epic climbs, you can have it all in Santa Barbara.
And if you follow the Tour of California, you’ll recognize Gibraltar Road. Within minutes of downtown, you can be working your road bike up the six-mile Gibraltar climb yourself, having a crack at the Strava record. We wish you luck. Worst case, you’ve have accomplished ascending one of Southern California’s classic climbs.
Reward yourself with a glass of vino from one of Santa Barbara’s exceptional vineyards during dinner in town.