Looking back it's interesting to see how your knowledge or probably better yet your experiences change the way you do things.
Take for instance winter (and so to be spring riding) -- the one thing the eluded and frustrated me was how to stay active cycling year round and beat the elements.
Here's a couple thoughts:
--First come to admit to yourself that Mid November through Mid March are really not going to what the normal person considers reasonable biking weather. That doesn't mean there's not some super days for riding/training in that time frame. The biggest challenge weather wise generally is the 6 weeks from Mid Jan thru end of Feb. If you can work a strategy of training through these blocks of time you're well on your way to steadily improving as a cyclist/racer.
--Probably the next thing is the biggest most important piece of advice -- it's Apparel, most importantly foot apparel. If you can't keep your feet warm you won't bike in the winter. Period. If I can share anything it's the knowledge I picked up in that area. For years I struggled with boot covers, plastic bags, you name it. I probably did more nerve damage to my toes & feet than I care to admit. Learn from my idiot mistakes and make your single best fall/winter/spring apparel purchase. A pair of Lake (or Sidi) winter cycling boots. Yes, they are in the $200+ range but compare them to cost ski's & poles and it's a reasonable cost for winter sports. Once you have them (and a few other pieces of advice) almost nothing can stop you from riding year round.
--The remaining apparel -- though the cycling industry has got solutions for winter riding at a premium, you can do just as well with any winter outdoor clothing for the most part. What I normally wear? Outside of winter bibs & knee warmers, most everything is a combination of summer cycling gear and regular winter outer wear. A full face mask & ski cap is definitely great to have. But then it's usually only a couple of wicking type shirts/jerseys, with a heavy wool red plaid jacket that looks like I came straight out of a lumberjack camp and if it's real cold I'll toss on my long Columbia jacket/coat. In winter I don't go for the "cyclist" look -- skinny looking, close to the skin clothing --bundle me up like the Abominal Snowman and I'm happy as a clam. This has a two fold benefit, one you obviously stay warm but because your cycling speed is slower the wind chill factor is GREATLY reduced. Don't fall for the need to "look" the part. You can get the same effort or greater for carrying adding weight or mass and really reduce windchill.
--So with your feet warm (also don't hesitate to toss in those feet warmers sometimes), a body protected from your head to toe, the next most important thing is be conscious of wind & it's chill factor. Sno-mo trails are generally excellent for this, most are in the woods and because the speed is somewhat slower depending on trail conditions, the difference can be night and day in how it feels versus trying to ride on the road. If you question just how good Sno-mo trail riding can be ask recent convert Kelly McKnight. After seriously questioning my comments about it last Fall his experiences on the trails in March with Tom Gaier & Scott Chapin have changed his mind.
--Lastly, I used to think all I could or should do was cycling those 4-5 months in the winter. This past year has taught me throwing in cross training is perfectly fine and a well needed variety for alternative muscle development and maybe most importantly mental freshness. CX skiing was my savior this year both during times of rotten weather and for the variety & challenge it presented. Remember most of us aren't getting paid to be in this sport (or paid enough to be in this sport) and as a result it's important to do it for the other denomination that it pays "emotional currency" aka enjoyment. That's not an excuse to drop off training altogether for long blocks of time because you don't feel like it. But it does make it important to make sure you stay reasonably mentally fresh.
Now with the temps coming close to hitting the 40's regularly it's probably still not the most appealing for alot of riders but it's close to being balming when you add in the more direct sunlight this time of year begins to bring. With the snow soon to be gone be sure to look in the garage or basement for your two wheeled wonder and bust it out soon for a ride, you'll be glad you did!!
Up next, spring training, new MTB, Tandem talk and the racing schedule.....