Darker mornings, shorter and cooler days and, for many parts of the country, single digit temperatures. Winter in quickly approaching… those three months of the year when all the hard work and tedious training goes straight out the window. Bike fitness seems to vanish far quicker, and a lot easier, than it was earned.
Well it need not be the case – not this winter. With the tips below, and the use of ever-advancing cycling wear and indoor training technology, this time ’round you might actually rocket out of winter a stronger rider than ever before.
Tip 1 – Invest In Quality Winter Kit
Cycling wear has surged ahead over recent years … there are some sensational products around that are light-weight, thin and comfortable and offer more insulation and efficiency than ever.
When dressing for an early morning, cool-weather ride, consider this critical tip. Layer if need be, and dress for your expected temperature 10 to 15 minutes into the ride. It’s no fun being toasty warm as you roll out, then sweating like a pig soon after you start.
When selecting kit remember your extremities – your head, hands and feet. Headwear such as a thermal scull cap, cycling cap, or bandana are invaluable as up to 30%of heat is lost through the head. Long or short sleeved base layers along with quality gloves and thermal socks are a must. You know the vents on the base of your cycling shoes? They’re a Godsend in summer but a curse come winter – waterproof shoe covers will make precious bike time far more bearable.
Tip 2 – Stay Motivated And Ride Online
As hinted above, one of the hardest things in winter is maintaining that warm-weather fitness you worked so hard to attain. Arrange regular rides with friends, make firm pacts with your closest riding mates and stick to a strict regime.
Virtual training is booming right now and there are literally hundreds of online training rides every day of the week. Set reminders via apps such as the Zwift Companion App, and stick to minimum training hours each week whether you’re on the indoor trainer or outdoor bike.
Tip 3 – ‘Pro Hours’ Get Out When You Can
That was the reply a friend recently gave when asked if he wanted to ride the next day. With many of us either working from home or enjoying the positives & negatives of flexible working hours, a ride between say 11am and 3pm is sometimes possible. ‘Pro hours’ can be a lot more comfortable than earlier or later in the day – there’s generally more light, warmer temperatures, and often much less traffic.
Tip 4- Stay Hydrated
One very important aspect of training in winter is ensuring correct fluid intake and hydration levels. In cooler weather our bodies tend to play tricks on us … we simply don’t feel as thirsty. Overall performance suffers from even a marginal drop in hydration levels – a loss of less than 1% can impact your output! The tip here is take that second bidon and remember to drink just as much as you would in summer.
Tip 5 – Yes, It’s Rule #5
Appropriately, our 5th tip for maintaining your mojo during winter is universally known as Rule #5. With full credit to the Velominati, the ‘Keepers of the Cog’ and originators of ‘The Rules’, Rule #5 simply states ‘Harden Up’. The exact term contains two more words than that, but I’m sure you get the drift.
Got any winter cycling tips or tales? We’d love to hear from you. Have your say in comments below!