Cold Weather Cycling: Top 5 Tips To Beat The Winter Cycling Blues
Brrrrrr … it’s well and truly here.
Darker mornings, shorter and cooler days and, for many parts of the country, single digit temperatures. If that doesn't sound bad enough, wind, rain and even snow have lashed many areas as well.
Yes, our least-loved season has begun and, with no pun intended, it’s all downhill from here.
Winter ... 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 come ahead in leaps and bounds over recent years. There are some sensational products around - light-weight, thin and comfortable materials offering more insulation and efficiency than ever before.
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.
Finally - a rear mudguard can make a big difference in winter. Most bike shops stock these with disposable versions readily available.
Tip 2 - Stay Motivated
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.
If virtual training's your thing, set reminders via apps such as Zwift Mobile Link, get involved in regular group rides, and stick to minimum training hours each week whether you're on the indoor trainer or bike.
Tip 3 - 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- Train Overseas, Without Leaving Home
With the incredible technology most of us now have at our fingertips, it’s entirely possible to spend quality time on the bike without leaving the comfort of home. Combine a smart trainer with any number of online training platforms and an ipad or a computer, and you can (virtually) ride the world.
Just the other night I was riding around London thanks to Zwift and a few days before that I raced some friends around the Richmond Virginia World Championship course. It was no Peter Sagan performance, far from it, but a great way to ride hard, have fun and maintain fitness.
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!