Riding during the winter can actually be fun if you have the right equipment and the right mindset. There is no doubt that winter training for cyclists is the toughest time of the year. Climbing out of bed can be the hardest part of any winter ride. I have compiled my 5 top ways to make sure you make it from your bed to the shed to get on that bike.
- Have your gear ready
Make sure all your kit is ready. Make a deal with yourself that, if you still don’t feel like riding 10-minutes into the ride, you can ditch the session and head home. Typically, once you’re out you’ll feel good and go on to ride a full session.
Even the slightest distraction or reason not to do some winter training, such as not finding your favourite jersey, can be enough to return to the warm embrace of your duvet. Lay your gear out beside your bed so when you wake up in the morning you have there at your hand.
- Layer Up
Invest in some good-quality winter clothing, because getting cold, wet and uncomfortable on the bike is a good enough reason to leave it in the shed the next time. With the proper kit you’ll be prepared for nearly all that the winter can throw at you. The best way to stay warm on winter rides is to layer up.
Start with a moisture-wicking baselayer that keeps the body dry. Wear an extra thin layer rather than one that’s too thick. Next use a thermal layer worn over your baselayer which will keep the warmth in.
Finally use a Softshell and waterproof jacket which will provide wind stopping coverage to the belly, chest and groin – core areas you need to keep warm.
- Ride different routes
Riding the same roads all the time can become something of a chore. Even if you try riding your regular routes in the opposite direction you’ll find it something different. Circuits can be good in the winter months, as you’re never far from home should the weather turn or you run out of juice.
Short of daylight? Find yourself an industrial estate, as they’re usually well-lit and traffic-free: great for an hour’s tempo ride, intervals or just working on your cornering technique. Don’t hang around for too long though – at this time of year it’s all too easy to catch a chill if you’re loitering rather than training hard!
- Plan to succeed
Setting goals is a vital part of your success. Taking some time to write down your seasonal goals can keep you focused on your training plan.
Also write down some medium-term goals, which can be less important rides or races or weight loss targets. These should provide stepping stones to your main goals.
Set four or ﬁve short-term goals each week: completing all your training sessions, not having deserts during the week, cleaning your bike after each ride… anything that will contribute to your training moving forwards. Write them down and stick them up somewhere you’ll see them every day.
- Create your play list
Music can be a great motivator and apps such as Spotify now means putting together a training mix is easy. Use tracks you know will put a smile on your face and have a rhythm similar to the cadence you expect to be riding (80-100rpm typically). Create a great music-driven interval workout by alternating fast and slow tracks.
So there you go, 5 actions you can take straight away to help motivate you through your winter training plan and help you succeed at achieving any cycling goal you have for next year.