Winter training in cycling
Whether you are a dedicated racer or a weekend warrior the winter months can lead to a lack of enthusiasm to ride your bike and stay fit. However by using your time wisely, using specialist equipment and varying your training you can stay motivated and use the season productively towards your goals.
Your bike will take quite a hammering from the elements in the winter, so many riders use an older bike for winter riding and save their best bike for racing or riding in better weather.
Specialist winter kit will protect you from the elements while having only a minimal impact on your movement. Consider getting:
It's worth fitting an extra-long mudflap to the rear otherwise spray will be thrown up at just the right angle to annoy your mates 'big time'.
- Cycling tights (either 'bib tights' or with clip-on braces to stop them pulling down and to keep your back warm)
- Long sleeve jersey or jacket
- Pair of overshoes
- Wicking, thermal under vest
- Pair of long-finger gloves
- Lightweight, windproof, water-resistant jacket (small enough to be folded up and put in your back pocket in case of sudden downpours or emergencies).
- Bandana, cap or other thin head cover to wear under your helmet
- Woolly or fleece headband (skiing style) to cover your ears
- Sleeveless, waterproof gilet - ideal to for cool weather or long descents.
Mudguards will not only stop the rain and dirt covering you and your riding companions, they will help grit and road salt off your bike and can considerably extend the life of your components and clothing. There are various models to fit almost every bike except perhaps pure racing bikes with very close clearances between the frame and tyres. It's worth fitting an extra-long mudflap to the rear 'guard though to keep your clubmates happy - otherwise you'll find that spray gets thrown up at just the right angle to annoy them 'big time'.
As you peer outside from the comfort of your warm bedroom you may be put off getting out on your bike. If you think motivation is a problem then you can often fix this by arranging to ride with a clubmate or group of friends. You are far more likely to go out if your friends are expecting you. You don't want to let anyone down, do you? Besides, having some company will make the ride more enjoyable and will take your mind off your frost-nipped fingers and toes!
Riding with a friend is good for winter motivation
Winter is typified by short days and bad weather. Riding in the dark or in poor conditions can be not only unpleasant but also even potentially dangerous. If your aim is to keep fit a turbo trainer may be the answer. It's a simple rig with a roller, sometimes with adjustable resistance, which accepts your regular bike and lets you spin away to your heart's content, going nowhere, indoors. Turbo trainers offer really good quality training sessions, with the benefit that you are on your own bike in your regular riding position. They are not, however, ideal for endurance training. They are much better for short, intense sessions. You may want to watch TV (Tour de France videos are often a favourite!).
If you've done a lot of riding in the summer then some different exercise may be just what your mind and body needs
If you've done a lot of riding in the summer then some different exercise may be just what your mind and body needs. Alternative exercises can provide a new mental challenge and will help prevent overuse and unbalancing of your body that may occur from doing just one sport. By running, swimming or using a gym you will be able to maintain your fitness from the summer, stay warm and stay motivated with the variety in your routine.
For the competitive cyclist the winter is an important part of the season. It's a mental break from racing, an opportunity to recover from the race season, and time to work on your weaknesses and prepare for the coming season. Divide your training year into phases - preparation, pre-competition, competition and recovery. For most riders, the winter period is everything outside the competition period. Each phase can be subdivided further to help maintain focus, training and recovery.