Winter Training Tips
Posted on April 21 2017
Nobody can disagree that summer cycling, in shorts and sunglasses, is the most enjoyable. But, with crisp morning air, and the promise of hot coffee stops, winter training can be rewarding. With some effective tips, you can beat the winter blues and keep on peddling!
Set a goal
Winter is the time to set a goal, even if you are not usually inclined that way. Cold dark mornings can diminish any motivation to ride. Therefore, you should set a personal goal. This could range from distance for each ride, total distance over a two weeks or a month, to loose some weight , or to aim to compete in an event. It does not matter what, but by having a reachable but challenging goal, you give yourself a reason to wake up and get out in the cold.
Cyclists can often be guilty of neglecting strength training as it doesn't obviously link to cycling. However, you need to have a strong core and upper body for cycling. This is engaged particularity when sprinting, climbing or for turning corners. Being stronger can also help reduce the likeliness of injury. Winter is a great time to work on this. Go to the gym or even in your own home, and do two sessions a week with weights or bodyweight exercises. Working out in dry inside is an attractive alternative to a wet ride, while still aiding your cycling performance. However, this doesn't mean stop cycling altogether, rather reduce your mileage to accommodate these sessions.
Second pair of gloves
Suffice to say, that for winter cycling you should have quality thermal base layers and thick gloves. However a handy tip often overlooked is to pack an extra pair of gloves. Better still, put them in a waterproof bag ( even a sandwich bag will do). If you are unfortunate to encounter a down poor on your ride, and your gloves become soaked, you can swap over gloves. This will keep your hands from getting cold and let you get home in relative comfort.
Even top athletes recognise a need for a break, and this applies to all cyclists too. Winter is great time to give yourself a couple of well deserved weeks off. Recharge your batteries, give your legs a break, and you will enjoy the next ride even more. Don't let this extend any longer, as you will find your base fitness deteriorate. A break, combined with a winter goal, will have you smiling on cold rides.
Wash your bike
Winter riding isn't just harsh on yourself but also on your ride. Rain and mud will no doubt cover your ride (and you). Furthermore, gritting of the roads means salt will likely work into your chain, cassette etc which left untreated can rust these parts. Therefore it is extra important that you clean and lube your bicycle. A good tip is to get all the cleaning products and equipment out ready for when you return, and clean your bike straight away after your ride, before you go inside. Although that is the last thing you want to do if it is cold and damp, it will it means you won't forget about it. Also, the grime will be fresh so should be easier to get off. Keeping it washed and lubed not only means you have a much nicer bike to ride, but it will also help prevent unnecessary mechanical issues and save you money.
Mix it up
Contrary to popular belief, winter shouldn’t just be a time for endless solitary miles in grim weather. Embrace the wet weather and have a go at mountain or cyclocross riding. Raining on the roads is a negative, but can be great for off roading. Learning a new discipline is always a challenge and you might find it a fun way to train through winter.
Overcoming the elements
Winter riding will require some slight changes to your riding style and your bicycle. Pay extra attention to the road for man hole covers and do not turn on them. The same for leaves on the road. You should fit puncture proof tyres for winter, ideally 25mm width and above. This will give added grip. For more grip, run slightly lower psi that usual, which will mean a larger contact patch on the road. Mudguards are a must also.
So there we have it. With these tips you should be riding through whatever winter throws at you!