It just seems like yesterday that you hung the bike up and started enjoying the off-season. The signal that the off-season has ended is the start of Winter Bike League (WBL) rides. For those not in the know WBL rides are organized events that attract cyclists by the hundreds. Typically the rides start at over 50 miles and gradually increase by time and distance over the course of the series. To break up the monotony and to satisfy the competitive juices there are “attack” or “sprint” zones during the ride. The top finishers in these zones are tallied and some WBL rides award sprint jerseys. The WBL rides vary each week, so it’s not the same route time after time. The rides also have some kind of sag support and a donation is kindly requested to off-set the costs.
Charleston, South Carolina has its own WBL starting December 12th . The group will roll out of The Bicycle Shoppe in Mt Pleasant at 9:00 AM. Their blog post states they will be riding for four hours and will include one stop.
In Charlotte, North Carolina Chad Andrews of Total Cyclist has already started his weekly series. The Total Cyclist WBL rolls Saturday morning at 9:30 from the Total Cyclist Training Center. The group rides for about three and half hours and is increasing the duration each month.
The Upstate Winter Bike League (UWBL) starts this Saturday leaving from Carolina Triathlon in downtown Greenville. The fun starts at 10:00 AM and there will be an “A” and a “B” group. The first ride is three hours and will increase each week. Also there are no “sprint” zones during December so don’t worry about your sprinting legs quite yet.
Another Greenville ride is ROGGC (AKA The Rock) Ride. This is a Sunday ride and it switches starting locations between Ride On Bikes and the Greenville Cycling Center. The start time is at 11:00AM and the mileage increases with each week. There is an “A” and”B” group with the difference being the speed of the pack.
In Athens, Georgia their WBL kicks off this Saturday as well and they are riding for four hours – about 75 miles starting at Sunshine Cycles in downtown. Their Facebook page states that the pace will be a steady 20 miles per hour.
Remember to dress for the weather conditions. The morning can be cold, with temps easily dipping into the 40s. Layering your clothes is critical and a good warm jacket is advised. It’s winter time so keep those knees covered. That means knee warmers are the minimum but leg warmers are strongly recommended. Something else that needs full coverage is your hands. Full fingered gloves will prevent your hands from going numb during the ride . Most of your body heat is lost through the top of the head so a cap under the helmet will go a long way to keep you warm. Insulated shoe covers are also a good idea when the mercury drops. Also do not depend on sag support or a Good Samaritan. Be prepared with food, tools and tubes so you can return to the start.
Upstate Winter Bike League’s First Ride, Photos: Eddie J. Helton