Knowledge Level: Beginner
With more cold weather forecasted, what should you be doing when the temperature drops below zero and the snow starts to fall?
Do you really need to ride?
Even the most skilled and experienced cyclists can be caught out by black ice and, with the NHS stretched at the moment, if you do have a spill and hurt yourself, you could be waiting a long time for assistance and would be putting an unnecessary additional strain on the system. If sub-zero temperatures are likely, maybe err on the side of caution, stay off the roads and opt for something else.
Plan your route
If you do decide to head out, try to stick to larger roads that will have been gritted. Try to avoid smaller roads and lanes, steep descents and any roads that are shaded from the sun. Maybe consider riding later in the day than you might normally do as there will have been longer for any ice to thaw.
If you’re lucky enough to have trails local to you, riding off-road, whether MTB, gravel or cyclo-cross, is a brilliant way to escape icy roads. Ride well within your skill level and take care on any linking road sections. Although opportunities for racing have been very limited this season, heading down to your local park or sports field for a cyclo-cross skills session can be a great cold weather workout.
Be prepared and self sufficient
This is important under normal circumstances but essential at the moment to prevent unnecessary travel or additional strain on the emergency services. Make sure you have sufficient food and drink for your entire ride, have let someone know where you’re going and how long you expect to be, have all the tools and spares you might need and are wearing appropriate clothing for the conditions, including extra layers in case the weather deteriorates or if you have to pause for any reason.
If you have an indoor trainer, icy and snowy days are an ideal time to use it. With modern smart trainers and platforms such as Zwift, it’s no longer the soul destroying, staring at your garage wall experience that it use to be. Races, structured workouts, group rides, miles of virtual roads to explore and the ability to arrange rides with your mates, it’s almost as good as the real thing. Check out our 8-week Indoor Time Efficient Training Plan which is perfect for this time of year. If you’re unsure how to get set-up with an indoor trainer, download our free Ultimate Guide to Indoor Training eBook.
Cross-training can be both directly beneficial to your cycling performance and also improve your overall robustness and resilience to injury. Running, especially off-road, can be a great option in the cold but build up gradually, maybe alternating walking and running, if you’re not a regular runner. Some strength training, even if only bodyweight exercises such as press-ups, squats and lunges, is great for cyclists or maybe try some yoga or pilates - there are plenty of virtual live and recorded classes available. Alternatively we could all benefit from some mobility work so what about either our Upper Body routine, Back and Lower Body routine or even both?