joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com
Race Team Director Michele Moulton cruises along Westover Boulveard during a group ride Saturday morning.

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com Race Team Director Michele Moulton cruises along Westover Boulveard during a group ride Saturday morning.

— With shorter days and chilly temperatures, even serious bicyclists sometimes find it hard to work in enough road time in the winter.

But in what may become an annual tradition, an eight-week PCP WInter Training Series will kick off Dec. 3. The three-hour excursions will launch at 10 a.m. each Saturday through Jan.21.

“They’re not designed to be real fast or hard,” said Michele Moulton, a member of the Pecan City Pedalers Race Team who is organizing the event. “They’re designed to get those miles in and to be fun. It’s a lot easier knowing you’ve got a big group waiting on you to go ride for three hours in 40-degree weather than it is to go out and do it yourself.”

Hard, fast and fun are relative terms, however. The casual bike rider who pedals around the neighborhood on weekends isn’t likely to find the 20 mph pace for the ride appealing or doable.

“These rides are not designed to drop riders,” Moulton said. “If you’re only riding 10 mph around the neighborhood, this is not for you.”

The purpose of the weekly rides, she said, is to help bicyclists avoid too big a drop-off in their fitness level from the warmer months.

“It’s an eight-week series of bike ride that are designed ... to build base miles,” she said. “During the summer is when a lot of the cyclists ride a little more and you ride a little harder and faster. With the longer daylight hours, you can ride a lot more.”

When winter sets in coupled with the loss of Daylight Savings Time, “you kind of lose that fitness that you have from riding in the summer,” Moulton said. “So what this is designed to encourage people, even though its going to be who knows how cold in December and January, to come out. It’s doing some longer rides to get those base miles in so you can slowly work on getting your fitness back before the time changes.”

Moulton said she’s hoping to attract riders not only from the Metro Albany area, but from cities like Columbus, Tifton, Valdosta, Moultrie and Tallahassee.

“This is for people who can consistently ride about 18-20 mph,” she said. “If you have a road bike and you ride somewhat consistently, you should be able to do these rides. We’ll average about 20 mph over the entire course of the ride.”

There’s no cost to participate and riders can vie for prizes from sponsors, including Cycle World, Breakaway Cycles, Elements and Harvest Moon. Most of the ride will be controlled as more of a social event than a race, Attack and sprint zones will be announced before each ride, and riders who attack or sprint too early won’t qualify for prizes or points.

To participate, a rider doesn’t have to commit to all eight Saturdays, which include Christmas Eve (the Christmas Cruiser) and New Year’s Eve (the Resolution Ride). “It’s come as you want to and schedule permits,” Moulton said. “I didn’t want to get confusing and have some breaks in there.”

The initial ride will start at Cycle World off Dawson Road at 10 a.m. Dec. 3. Subsequent rides will start at various sponsors’ locations. Moulton said those who want to participate can get information on the starting place, rules and route by visiting the Winter Training Series’ website, www.teampcp.com.

While she’s not expecting to attract 150-200 riders as a similar winter trainer in Athens has, Moulton said she’d like for the PCP Winter Training Series to become a winter tradition in the Good Life City.

“I’m hoping to make it an annual event,” she said. “It’s all going to depend on whether I get the participation.”