How was your winter?
Look back and have an honest assessment of your winter. Did you manage the training you planned or did the weather, short days, illness or other factors scupper your best laid plans? If the latter sounds familiar, don’t beat yourself up but do make sure you adjust your season goals that you might have set in the Autumn and ensure your spring riding is appropriate to the riding you have done over the winter; don’t just head out for a 100-mile ride on the first sunny Sunday!
Increases in either training volume or intensity should be progressive and in line with the training you’ve recently managed. Sudden jumps in training load are likely to lead to illness, injury or overtraining.
Don’t diet drastically
Don’t try and crash off any excess winter weight your might be carrying. Aggressive weight loss by trying to create an excessive calorie deficit or by following faddy diet plans will undoubtably compromise your training and performance, potentially lead to illness and is unlikely to result in permanent weight loss. Start structured training and make sensible and sustainable dietary changes.
Start structured training
If you’re just getting into cycling or, have been riding for a while but have never followed a plan, putting some structure into your training is, without a doubt, the best way to improve. Structured training plans are not just for super serious or competitive riders but anyone who wants to ride further, faster or just better. We’ve got plans ranging from our Sofa-50km for complete novices right up to discipline specific plans, including sprinting and hill climbing.
It’s not unusual, during the course of a spring ride, to experience a full four seasons of weather. Staying comfortable in unpredictable mixed conditions is all about flexible clothing and layering. Toe covers, arm/leg/knee warmers and a weather proof gilet or lightweight jacket are all essentials that can easily be put on or removed as the conditions change.
Swap to your summer bike but….
It can be tempting, at the first signs of spring, to dig out all of your carbon bling for some fast miles. Even though you might be switching over to your summer bike, spring showers can still mean wet, gritty or, if there’s a frost, salty roads. If they’re compatible, maybe run keep running your winter wheels but remember that pads are carbon or alloy specific. You can get clip-on mudguards for even the tightest clearing aero frames without eyelets and they’ll definitely help keep your feet and backside dry, protect your bike and make you more popular on group rides. If you’re racing, unclipping them should only be a five minute job.
Show your winter bike some love
If you’ve been riding a dedicated winter bike, don’t just put it away without giving it a much deserved clean and service. Make sure that’s it’s running smoothly and replace any worn parts. Pay particular attention to chain stretch as, catching this early, can save you having to replace the cassette and chainrings. Also, check all cables for stretch, that your gears are correctly indexed and replace worn brake pads if necessary. Finally, make sure you lube your chain before packing the bike away. Do all of this and, when you get the bike back out in the autumn, you’ll be confident that it’s ready to ride.
Enter some events
Having some events in your diary will give you something to aim for and increase your motivation to get out and ride. Look for events that excite and inspire you. Try riding somewhere you’ve never ridden before, maybe get off-road and ride a gravel event or even pin a number on a try racing.
Don’t ditch the gym
Although many riders will hit the gym during the winter, the majority stop once the weather improves and the season starts. However, even if you only fit in a maintenance strength session once per week, it can help to prevent injuries, maintain strength and muscle mass and improve your performance on the bike. It’ll also mean, when you up your strength training next off-season, it won’t be quite such a shock to your system. If you really don’t think you’ll make it to the gym, some regular mobility work at home is a great compliment to your cycling.
With longer and potentially more intense training rides and events, getting your on and off the bike nutrition is even more important as you head into the spring and summer. If you’ve got some important events coming up, ensure that you thoroughly test your fuelling plans in training and that you’re well stocked up with products that suit you.
Time for some upgrades?
Although the lure of a carbon wheelset or a top of the line groupset is tempting, if you’re looking to upgrade your performance on the bike this spring, they probably don’t represent the best way to spend your cash. Our top three recommendations, if you’re looking to buy some speed this spring, are; taking on the services of a coach, investing in a professional bike fit and buying a power meter.