A Ride With… Sean Kelly

A couple of winters ago, the legendary Irish hardman gives us his tips on tackle bad weather… or escaping it altogether! Looking out of the window, now seems like a good time to revisit his words of wisdom.




Nobody likes waking up and seeing horrible weather outside. As a cyclist it’s more dangerous riding in wet conditions – and for some people it can be a real mental battle just to go out. As a rider who could handle wet and cold conditions, my morale didn’t take a big dive if I saw bad weather. I suppose that coming from Ireland I was used to it – and that should apply to all riders from our group of islands: get out there and get used to it.


You should ride differently in wet conditions, with more caution, and fuel differently. On a cold, wet day you’re not inclined to drink as much, especially if you just have the usual energy drinks, so have a hot drink available. Keep eating every 15-20 minutes, little and often. In thewetandcolditcanpaytoeata bit more early on, as you can be in danger of getting cold later, when it’s harder to get food down. It’s also harder to eat in gloves!


Today’s winter cycling clothing is amazing. Jerseys for cold conditions are so light, and you can get into the pockets for your food easily. In the past you would have been wearing two or three jerseys and when you went for a pocket you’d end up in the wrong one, wanting to be in the one of the jersey underneath. Modern clothing helps make bad conditions more bearable.


In icy conditions you have to be very cautious because it’s very dangerous. It pays to look at the weather forecast and plan ahead. Maybe you can go out later in the day when it has thawed out, or perhaps consider training indoors.


Specific training exercises, such as 10-minute efforts, sprints or time trials, are easier to do in good conditions. It’s why you see everyone out in Calpe in Spain, or Majorca. With the price of flights, it’s so easy, and cheaper than living at home where you’d have to pay for food and heating. For sportive riders, just come out and ride your bike for the week, but don’t overdo it or you won’t get the benefit.