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Spring cycling checklist

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Knowledge level: Beginner

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Article posted: 11/03/2015

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As a cyclist, getting through the winter is tough on your body, hard on your bike and takes a lot of motivation, self-discipline and definitely a sense of humour. If you have been following the British Cycling Training Plans, congratulations on sticking with them through the winter, you are now ready to reap the riding rewards of all your hard work. If you haven’t quite managed the consistent training you had planned, you are certainly not alone and you can still make 2015 a cycling year to remember.

Bike Maintenance

If you have been grinding out the winter miles, your bike will certainly be in need of some attention. If you have been riding a designated winter bike make sure, before you consign it to the shed, that you have given it a complete clean and service. Some time spent now, or some work given to your local bike shop, will save you frustration in the autumn. If you will be riding the same bike through the summer, take advantage of a recovery week to give it an overhaul. Pay particular attention to tyres, brakes and the drivetrain. Check that the seat-post hasn’t seized, there is no water inside the frame and replace any rusted bolts. Even with regular diligent cleaning, salted winter roads can really take their toll so don’t be surprised if you have to part with some money. If you have got some early season races or events, you may want to take off your mudguards but, if not, we advise keeping them on through the spring showers season.

Kit overhaul

Go through all of your winter kit and make sure that it is all clean and dry before packing it away. Wash and re-proof waterproofs using products recommended by the manufacturers. If you have been using neoprene overshoes, make sure you rinse them well to remove salt from road spray and use a water dispersant on the zips. Again, some time spent now, will save you annoyance and money when winter arrives again.

Clothing essentials

With modern cycling clothing, if you dress correctly, you can be comfortable in all conditions. Flexible layers are the key to staying comfortable in mixed conditions typical of spring. Must haves include:

  • arm/leg/knee warmers
  • toe covers or lightweight overshoes
  • gilet or lightweight wind/waterproof
  • lightweight gloves
  • casquette for under your helmet

Dont fall off the training wagon

If you have trained well and consistently through the winter, do not allow your cycling to become unfocussed now that spring is here. If you have been following the Beginner’s Plan, find advice here on how to work the plan around your events or, if you are keen to keep progressing, move onto the Intermediate/Advanced Foundation Plan. If you have been on the Intermediate/Advanced plans, which follow the Foundation Plan, you can use the Modular Training Plan to create a bespoke programme around your target events.

Dont crash train

The British Cycling Training Plans work on the key principle of progression and, to avoid injury or overtraining, this is a gradual process. If you haven’t managed to build a solid fitness base over the winter, do not make the mistake of suddenly ramping up your training or opting straight away for high intensity workouts in an attempt to catch up. Be realistic about what is achievable and maybe move your competitive goals to early/mid-summer. Our 7-Week Panic Plan could be suitable if you have maintained a reasonable level of fitness over the winter, but maybe have not put the hours in on the bike or, if the winter of 2014/15 is one you would rather forget, starting out at the beginning of one of our plans may be more sensible.

Confirm your event diary

If you have not already done so, spend some time working out which events you are targeting. Use the British Cycling Event Calendar and commit to a few events that genuinely inspire you. Look for stunning locations that you might not have ridden in before, more distance or climbing than you have previously attempted, a familiar nemesis that you haven’t quite cracked or an epic adventure abroad. Confer with your club-mates or training partners and get a familiar group of riders around you on your big days.

Sort the logistics

Once you have entered your events, don’t leave booking accommodation or sorting out travel arrangements until the last moment. You want the final build up to your key events  to be as stress free as possible, without any unnecessary hassle and inconvenience impacting on your performance. With the hard work of winter still fresh in your mind, use this as incentive to make sure that this essential box is ticked for all of your important events and races.

Try a time trial

If you are looking for weekly motivation, an unbeatable workout and a means to measure your progress, give your local club’s evening 10-mile time trial a go. These events are generally extremely welcoming, open to non-members and you can usually enter on the line. Don’t worry about not having all the time trial kit, there will be plenty of other riders on regular road bikes and remember, you are only competing against yourself and the clock. Keep a note of weather conditions, heart rate and/or power and you will soon be able to get a good idea of how your fitness is developing through the season.

Shed some winter warmth

Even if you have been training well, stodgy winter food and the festive period mean that it is not unusual to emerge from winter carrying a few extra pounds. As with training, don’t think that a radical crash approach is the way to go. Severe and sudden calorie restriction will result only in reduced training performance, poor workout recovery, decreased muscle mass and associated loss in strength and power, reduced metabolism and minimal fat loss. Nigel Mitchell, Great Britain Cycling Team and Team Sky nutritionist, has some excellent advice on losing weight safely.

Ready to race?

If your training has gone well through the winter, as well as taking on the challenge of sportives, you should also consider giving road racing a go. If you don’t feel quite ready to go straight into road racing, Go Race events are an ideal way to give it a try. They take place on closed circuits and are a maximum of 30 minutes in duration. Find the nearest Go Race events to you. The British Cycling events calendar also has many other races listed. For information on how to get into road racing as well as safety, technique and tactical videos, check out our Racesmart videos.




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