Hopefully you have been putting in the hard miles over the winter, ideally following one of our British Cycling Training Plans, and are fit and ready for the upcoming season. Unfortunately though the British winter rarely gives up without a fight and the spring can bring some of the trickiest and most unpredictable riding conditions.
The transition from winter training to spring competition or events can difficult to manage and, if you haven’t quite put in the training you wanted over the winter, you can suddenly feel pressured. No matter what level of cyclist you are or where your fitness currently stands, our spring check list will help you make 2016 your best cycling year yet.
If you haven’t managed to train consistently over the winter and have events or races looming, don’t make the mistake of panicking and trying to crash train. Suddenly increasing volume, intensity or both is a guaranteed route to illness or injury. Take a look and reassess your plans. Look at events at least 8-12 weeks away and select one of our Training Plans to get you ready for it. There is no reason why you can’t take part in earlier events but view them as training and take the pressure off yourself.
If you have kept active during the winter but haven’t necessarily been cycling, our 7-Week Panic Plan could be suitable for you. It is ideal for fit non-cyclists who want to tackle a 100 kilometre sportive or cyclists who have let their training slip and want to get back into structured training.
Bolt on a training block
New for 2016, we have a number of training blocks designed for specific disciplines or to address a particular area of cycling fitness. These blocks are ideal if you have followed our Foundation Plan and Intermediate/Advanced Plan through the winter and are looking for a final tune up going into the season. There are also guidelines with each one which, if you haven’t been following our plans, will let you know if the bolt-on is suitable for you. There’s an 4-week Time Trial Plan, 4-week Circuit Racing Plan, 4-Week Sprinting Plan and 4-Week Hill Climbing Plan.
Lose a few pounds
Although carrying a bit of extra weight can be beneficial through the winter months to keep you warm and aid immune function, spring is the time to think about shedding your extra insulation. Don’t try to crash diet, but follow a sensible healthy diet in conjunction with structured training and aim for a loss of about 0.5 kg per week. Get some more tips for safe weight loss from the Great Britain Cycling Team nutritionists.
As you move into the spring, it is likely that the intensity of your workouts will be increasing. This makes recovery even more important as, if you neglect it, you will be compromising your gains from the session you have just done and your ability to perform in your next one. Nutrition plays a key role but there a number of other steps you can take to optimise your recovery. Make sure you factor in enough time for a cool-down, include flexibility work and foam rolling and also try to fit in an occasional massage.
Sort out your bikes
If you ride a dedicated winter bike, at some stage during the spring, you will be swapping it over to your best bike. Don’t just put it in the shed and forget about it until next autumn, give it a complete clean and service now so it’s pristine and ready to go at the end of the summer. Hopefully you did the same with your summer bike at the end of the season but, if not, give it a careful check over before riding hard or racing on it. If you just have the one bike, give it a really good spring clean. Check cables, brake blocks, chain stretch and rim wear and replace any worn or rusted components. If you are planning on racing you will need to remove your mudguards but, if not, with spring showers, you are probably better off leaving them on.
Beat mixed conditions
The hardest thing about riding in the spring is that you can easily get all four seasons in one ride. Keeping dry, warm and comfortable can be almost impossible. Get some top tips for riding in variable spring conditions.
Plan your season
Trying road or circuit racing for the first time can seem intimidating but all riders started somewhere and you will be made to feel welcome. Go Race events are an ideal way to give it a try, take place on closed circuits and are a maximum of 30 minutes in duration. You can enter on the day and you don’t need to have a racing license. You should also check out our Racesmart videos which give you advice covering kit, etiquette, tactics and key skills. Even if you are an experienced rider, these videos are well worth a watch.
If sportives are your main focus for 2016, put some time aside to watch our new series of Ridesmart videos that cover all aspects of sportive and riding on the road. Including techniques, such as cornering and descending, the etiquette of riding in a group and how to prepare your bike, these films will help you to become a safer and more successful rider.
Ride a Spring Classics sportive
The Spring Classics, such as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, have sportives attached and these iconic and tough rides can be a brilliant early season goal. Use one of our Training Plans to ensure you are ready and, once you have ridden the event, stay on and enjoy the pro race the next day.