Autumn means different things for different riders. For some, it heralds the end of the season and a transition into off-season training. Others, who race cyclo-cross or track, will just be starting. For all, the weather can be a challenge, often throwing all four seasons at you in one ride. Follow our tips to make this autumn your most successful yet.
Have a break
If you’ve been putting in the miles over the summer, the autumn is a great time to take a break from structured training. It’ll give you a physical and mental boost and raise motivation ahead of the winter. You don’t have to stop riding completely but just change the emphasis from training to the social side of the sport and pleasure.
If you are taking some time off from structured training, it can be the perfect time to dabble in some off-road riding. Whether on a mountain, cyclo-cross or gravel bike, riding trails will benefit your road riding and provide a useful winter training option. If you need some mountain biking technique tips, check out our Trail Smart videos
When you are ready to knuckle down again, your first priority should be testing for your Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) and/or Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and using the result to set accurate training zones. This is a key step in all of our training plans but, even if you’re not following one of them, accurate and personalised training zones are still essential for getting the most out of your autumn and winter training.
Plan your winter training
We've got training plans for all levels so, whether you're just starting out on the bike or looking to improve your sportive or race performance, we've got a plan for you.
Bike, kit and clothing
Hopefully, if you have a dedicated winter bike, you gave it a service before putting it away in the spring and it’s ready to go. If not, dig it out and, if necessary, book it into your local bike shop. If you ride the same bike throughout the year, get it ready for winter now rather than waiting for the weather to turn foul.
Autumn riding is all about dealing with mixed conditions. One minute you can be riding in baking sun and the next in a freezing downpour. Layering and versatile clothing, such as arm/knee warmers and a gillet, are key to staying comfortable in changeable weather.
Using an indoor trainer isn’t a “soft option” for avoiding riding in the rain but a great time effective tool for focussed training sessions. If you don’t already own one, think about what type would suit you best and, once you have one, check out these workouts.
There are cyclo-cross leagues and races throughout the country most weekends and, for most local and club events, you can enter on the day, race with a Provisional or Day licence and even give it a go on a mountain bike. Take a look at our 8-week cyclocross training plan, cyclo-cross videos and top tips from U23 World Champion Evie Richards.
If you’re lucky enough to live near to one the UK’s six indoor velodromes, the autumn is an ideal time to start working your way through your track’s accreditation process, before moving on to SQT (Structured Quality Training) sessions and maybe even taking part in a Track League. If you get the track cycling bug, check out our 8-week track cycling training plan.
Hit the gym
If you’re having some time off or dialling back the intensity of your training, the autumn and winter can be the ideal time to hit the gym and do some cycling specific strength work or some focussed mobility work.
The temptation in the autumn and winter can be to start eating stodgy comfort food and, although there’s no harm in gaining a couple of pounds over the winter, you don’t want to be having to crash it off in a panic in the spring. Check out our easy and healthy recipes for both on and off the bike.
Annoying bugs, colds and flu go hand in hand with the onset of Autumn. With shorter days, a Vitamin D supplement is recommended to boost immune function. Find out how else to stay well this autumn with tips from Great Britain Cycling Team Head of Medical Services Dr Nigel Jones.