How to keep riding this winter

With the rise of technology indoor training has got a lot more fun, but there is still much to be said for braving the elements. Whether you choose leave or remain, eliminate the excuses early

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Right now, we’re facing a stark decision. The days are shorter, the nights are colder and your inner animal is urging you to pile on as much fat as possible and curl up in the warm until spring. So, are you going to give in and hibernate for the next few months or are you planning to keep – or even improve – the fitness you gained over summer? 

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If you want to make the next few months of riding as enjoyable and productive as possible, the great news is that there’s never been more technology to help you do just that. Whether that’s inside on the latest smart trainers linked to interactive ‘enterpainment’ programs, or outside shrugging off the weather in the latest Shake-Dry fabric jackets on surefooted disc-braked and puncture-proofed ‘all-road’ bikes. 

Either way, being realistic and prepared will help keep you on the bike and off the couch. 

Keep it real 

It would be very easy to write some inspirational ‘go get ’em tiger’ fluff intended to get you leaping out of bed straight into a flawless, never-skip-a-beat, twice-daily training plan to unleash your inner Chris Froome in perfect time for spring. We’re not saying that such a transformation is impossible, but we know that, for most of us, already trying to fit training into the cracks of a busy and random life, it’s highly unlikely.  

Aiming too high at the start is likely to lead to bigger disappointment when you miss targets, and could see you chucking the whole caper in entirely. If you aim for three sessions a week and you miss one, or even two, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up too much if opening the door to reveal a sheet of sleet washes your resolve away. Any riding you do is better than none, and if that riding can be enjoyable, rather than barely endurable that’s a proper win. So, let’s crack on with discovering the best ways to make that happen… 

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Preparation 

We guarantee the toughest part of any winter ride/session is actually the one between your warm bed or couch and that first turn of the pedal. Any faff or delay at any point in that process can be fatal, so preparation is key.

If you’re heading out, check the likely weather the night before and have your clothes ready to get straight into. Tights, socks, base layer by the bed, jacket on the radiator downstairs together with gloves and shoes, which are already tucked as far into overshoes as possible. Spares, food, glasses and so on should be in your helmet ready to go into your pockets. Your lights and GPS devices should be charged and already fitted on the bike. If your ride is also a commute, get everything you need for work the night before too. 

Once you’re up don’t stop. Eat and drink whatever you got ready the night before, and get going. Don’t become hypnotised by Facebook, do a bit of tidying or check emails, or you’ll suddenly ‘not have enough time for a decent session’. Just get out, get it done and feel awesome when you get back. While you’re feeling awesome, make sure you put your lights back on charge, stick anything stinky in the washing machine and put everything else back where you expect it to be, rather than setting yourself up for a lost glove, flat battery session fail the next time around. 

Obviously the same applies for indoor training. Set your trainer up so that it’s as ready to go as possible – put your bottle on the bike, towel on the bar, make sure your shoes are clipped in and any devices are charged, connected and ready to roll. 

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