Far from ideal conditions, but it’s the rides in weather like this that make the endearing memories.
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Maintaining Winter Mojo, With Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner

It affects us all from time to time, being a little low on mojo. Here Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner offers his top tips on beating the post-summer blues.

I know, I know, I’m right there with you. The summer of cycling is long gone, all those events you trained for have been ticked off, the long rides in the sun are no longer, daylight savings is a distant memory and winter is just around the corner. The mornings are colder, darker and depending on where you live, wetter. How do you find the drive to get out there and ride your bike?

It’s something I’m grappling with now and it happens to me every year. Sometimes it comes as early as April and sometimes as late as October, but it comes. As I’ve said before a flower doesn’t blossom 12 months of the year and we can’t be fired up and going 12 months of the year either. How do we manage the unmotivated times?

The first thing to do is recognise and embrace it. It’s OK, it happens to everyone, and you and I are no different. My fear of not riding is that when I come back it’s going to be hard and hurt and I’m going to get dropped. Make your rides enjoyable – if that means cruising on a flat easy ride at a leisurely pace with friends, then so be it. There is no prescribed way to ride. While I may cover between 500-700km over six rides a week in summer, in winter, I might scale back to 300km over four to five rides. Tailor your cycling to what feels right for you, but remember the axiom: use it or lose it.

Keen rider Lisa Howard riding the 2023 Mudgee Classic gravel event in wet & muddy conditions.

Training Targets

I’ve said it in the past and that is the common counsel to set a goal. Indeed, events like the Bowral Classic or Around the Bay can be powerful incentives. Yet, these events can seem an eternity away when we wake up and ferociously refresh our weather apps, hoping for a break in the rain—or, in more reluctant moments, for the rain to provide an excuse to stay under the doona.

To keep the wheels turning, I do a couple of short and sharp rides on Zwift during the week. These are not to break records but to maintain a baseline of fitness, so when the sunny days start to come back, I can ramp it up and not be starting from scratch. However, it’s equally important not to force it. If you’re not feeling up to riding, take the day off without guilt and enjoy the rest. Forcing yourself can lead to resentment towards something that should be a source of joy and something that you love.

“…a flower doesn’t blossom 12 months of the year and we can’t be fired up and going 12 months of the year either…”

Let’s talk about motivation, and one surefire way to bring it back is new gear. The excitement of upgrading your kit is undeniable – shoes, helmet, apparel, head unit, wheels, handlebars, glasses, or even a new bike. It’s a tried and tested formula, new equipment can reignite your passion. Last year, when I was grappling with motivation, a new bike changed everything. Suddenly, the sun seemed to shine a bit brighter, and my eagerness to ride was renewed. There’s something about new gear that makes you eager to get out there and use it.

Accountability & Camaraderie

Community is another pillar of motivation. Organising rides with friends or joining bunch rides adds a sense of accountability and camaraderie, increasing your likelihood to brave the cold. In places like Melbourne, some bunches will go ahead come rain, hail or shine and you can feel confident there will be another keen rider like yourself at the meeting point.

Remember, cycling transcends physical health benefits. You can sit in a café for hours after the ride, boasting how hard you are to anyone who will listen. Better still take a quick video of you braving the cold and rain and send it to your friends with the hashtag #HTFU.

Riding in tough conditions is a profound way to alleviate stress, clear your mind, and immerse yourself in the elements. Riding and staying active can be a potent remedy against seasonal affective disorder (SAD), keeping your morale high as the days grow short. When I don’t ride I notice I’m grumpier and not as fun to be around, I feel something is missing.

Just Keep Riding

Winter doesn’t signal the end of your cycling journey, it’s simply a different path. By adjusting your routine, welcoming the unique pleasures of the season, and perhaps treating yourself to something new you can maintain – and even grow –your passion for cycling all year round, so when the sun comes back you don’t have to go searching for your legs. You take the stairs up but the elevator down with fitness, so the road back is long if you don’t keep it going to some extent in the wintery months.

I never regret going for a ride when I get back home, no matter the conditions. Riding solves so many problems, the hardest part is putting on your socks and walking out the door. 

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