If, like us, you believe that crisp winter air is good for the soul, you’ll love where we took the new Deep Winter collection.
In the company of two Kiwi ex-pros and a junior racer-turned-chef, we went to the South Island of New Zealand for a weekend of riding under the Long White Cloud. The aim was to tap into some old emotions, while exploring an entirely new place. To relight the fires, to come alive in Aotearoa.
Our Deep Winter range has always been designed to give cyclists who want to stick it out through the coldest parts of the year a high-quality system of apparel to protect against the cold. We equipped Nina, Hayden and Pat, with all they’d need to stay warm and well-layered in the frigid days on the road to Paradise.
Good Times, Bad Weather
There’s a kick you get from riding in the cold that you can’t get anywhere else. The peaceful, purposeful transition through those early, uncomfortable moments to the point when you actually get warm. Then, the feeling of overcoming. With six different cancelled flights before eventually getting everyone together in Queenstown, NZ, the trip had a flavour of overcoming the odds, before anyone had even turned a pedal.
All three riders have been through the ringer of competitive racing. Nina hails from the track world but has also done plenty of road racing; Hayden spent some years in Europe living the UCI pro-life and competing against WorldTour opposition; while Pat spent a couple of years on Drapac Cycling in his younger days, before leaving the pursuit of elite sport behind to make his living as a chef.
One thing you notice about this trio immediately is the distaste for data. Pat rides with no computer on his bike at all (imagine!), while Nina and Hayden both express a desire to no longer feel like slaves to metrics and workout plans, something they strongly identify with their old lives as pros.
The purpose of this trip is not to dwell on the past, though. The point is to rediscover the love of riding, the power of mateship and the peculiar category of good times to be had when riding in ostensibly bad conditions.
When you know how to dress for winter – and have the right pieces of clothing to execute the principles – you’ll find, as the trio did, that riding in the cold becomes more of a joy and less of a chore.
Pat is more conscientious than the others when it comes to riding in the cold. He almost lost one of his toes after a particularly chilly ride from Melbourne to Byron Bay and was pretty reticent of even getting on the plane after spending so long in the balmy climes of New South Wales. He also never rides in the cold without a bin bag in his pocket which can be used as a makeshift windbreak – although he forwent the kitchen sacks this trip, in favour of an all bells-and-whistles MAAP Apex Jacket.
All three riders use a base layer, of course, and then build on top with their own preferred pieces. Thermal bib tights are also an essential, but from that point on there is always an element of personal preference.
During the winter, Pat never leaves home without his neck warmer, while Hayden takes a more esoteric approach – recommending a tot of whisky in one bidon, to carry the warmth you build up mid-ride into the post-ride. In extreme cold conditions, that extra alcohol content may also be the difference between a frozen bidon and one that is still drinkable. Just remember to rehydrate responsibly.
For those that don’t drink alcohol, Pat suggests some boiling water in the bidons first thing in the morning, so that at least the first few sips feel as though you’re carrying some of the warmth of home along with you.
Getting started in the cold often seems to be the hardest part of the process, with Nina, Pat and Hayden all espousing the joyful, camaraderie that comes in the middle and the end of a chilly day in the saddle. Seasoned pro, Hayden, recommends setting out your kit the night before as a means of giving yourself one less reason to stay in bed when the alarm sounds.
Reconnecting with the Road
With a stop at a winery, a slap-up meal cooked by masterchef Pat and a focus on fun rather than ‘far’, the trip was nothing like an off-season sufferfest these riders might have remembered from their competitive days.
Nevertheless, there were moments of challenge and discomfort – steep inclines, heavy rain, near-zero temperatures, lairy snowboarders on their way up the mountain road – moments that the MAAP Deep Winter kit helped them to meet head on.
In fact, the winery stop nearly never happened – it took some sweet talking from the riders for the management to waive their usual ‘no cyclists’ rule and let them try a couple of drops of the Pinot. They left the winery with two takeaway bottles of wine to share around the evening campfire. All the local restaurants were booked out with the snow season crowd, so Pat went shopping and the gang were treated to the fruits of his culinary skills back at the AirBnB. As the flames from the firepit licked up into the darkened sky, the talk was about reigniting the passion, relighting the love of riding year-round.
Nina summarised the journey she went on as she rediscovered winter riding.
“It brings you closer to the people you ride with. Just being back on the bike, it’s a good reminder to me that I love cycling. I needed this little boost, to remind myself of that.”
“It doesn’t have to be my full focus. It’s the people for me, it’s fun. It's not all serious business.”
We thought about including a route map here for you to follow. But our best advice is to get on a plane, throw a leg over your bike, embrace the unexpected and go explore Paradise.
We take this opportunity to acknowledge Māori as tangata whenua and Treaty of Waitangi partners in Aotearoa New Zealand. We pay my respects to the mana whenua of the land on which we travel. We acknowledge elders past and present and Traditional Custodians of the lands collectively known as Aotearoa.
Kia hora te marino
Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana
Hei huarahi mā tātou I te rangi nei
Aroha atu aroha mai
Tātou i a tātou i ngā wā kātoa
Hui e tāiki e.