Winter Cycling Guide 2018

Winter Cycling Guide 2018

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Knowledge Level: Beginner

Heading into a winter of training can be daunting and a bit depressing but there’s definitely more than a grain of truth behind the old adage “winter miles mean summer smiles”. A consistent winter of training is where you lay the foundations of a successful spring and summer of cycling. If your winter riding is sporadic, you’ll be playing catch-up when the weather improves. However, winter needn’t be a gruelling slog, by following some simple tips it can be enjoyable and productive.  

It's not all about the base

One of the common mistakes many riders make is to think that all of their winter riding should be slow and steady. This approach came from pros, who’d log hours of steady state riding in the winter. However for amateur riders, who only probably have 5-10 hours a week to train, sticking solely to low intensities is a waste of time. Maintaining some intensity during the winter, whether dedicated workouts, efforts within a long ride or even racing, is essential.  All of our training plans will ensure that you get a healthy dose of intensity.  

British Cycling Training Plans
Winter Cycling Training Myth Buster
Junk Miles and How to Avoid Them

Get strong

The winter is a great time to hit the gym. Strength work can make you faster on the bike but it’ll also deliver a host of other benefits. It’ll slow and even reverse the loss of muscle mass associated with ageing, improving strength, health and facilitating weight control. Recent studies have shown regular resistance training to be one of the best predictors of overall health and mobility in old age. It’ll improve bone health, specifically bone density, which is an issue even for Grand Tour riders. Finally, by being more robust and resilient, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself lifting the kids out of the car, carrying shopping or working in the garden. Less time laid up with an injury means more time out on your bike.

Strength Exercises for Cyclists (video)
Advanced Strength Exercises for Cyclists (video)
Climbing Strength Exercises for Cyclists (video)
Winter Cycling Training Myth Buster

 

Head indoors

Far from a “soft option” for ducking the winter weather, although that’s a bonus, an indoor trainer offers a convenient and unbeatable option for focused training. Without the distraction of other road users, no pauses due to junctions etc and the ability to hold exactly the intensity required, you’ll struggle to replicate this quality of training on the road. However, as with most things, it’s about balance. Try to get out for your endurance rides or you might find your bike handling and skills suffer.

Buying an Indoor Trainer
Winter Cycling Training Myth Buster 

Eat right

The temptation to turn to stodgy comfort food during the winter can be hard to resist. However, if you gain excessive weight during the winter, trying to shed it during the spring can have a detrimental effect on the quality of training you’ll be able to manage. A couple of extra pounds during the winter can help with staying warm and immunity but don’t let things slip too much.

Safe Weight Loss for Cyclists
Struggling with Cycling Weight Loss

No such thing as bad weather....

Only bad clothing; and there’s more than a grain off truth to that. With correct layering and modern kit, it’s possible to stay dry and warm even in the foulest winter conditions. Pay particular attention to your extremities; hands, feet and head and keep well hydrated and fuelled.

Staying Warm on the Bike
Top 10 Tips for Keeping your hands warm on the bike
Top 10 Tips for Keeping your feet warm on the bike

Hit the trails

Snow and ice can make the roads dangerous and unappealing but can often make for brilliant off-road trail conditions. Whether on a gravel, cyclo-cross or mountain bike, riding off-road can be great fun, improve your fitness and develop your bike handling skills.

Off-Road Riding for Road Cyclists
Gravel Riding
Trail Smart (video)

Try the track

If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the UK’s six indoor velodromes, getting on the track this winter could be a real boost for your cycling. Even if you’re a track novice, working through the accreditation process will improve your fitness, pedalling technique and bike handling skills. If you’re already an experienced track rider, regular SQT (Structured Quality Training) sessions or even racing in a track league are a great way to add some intensity to your winter riding.

Time for the Track
Taking Track Cycling Further

Get cross

Although the season is already well underway, it’s not too late to give cyclo-cross a go. One of the most fun and accessible forms of cycle sport, you can enter on the day at many local events and even use a mountain bike. It’s a great way to get a quality high intensity session in and is brilliant for developing bike handling skills.

Cyclo-Cross skills (videos)
A Day in the Life of a Cyclo-Cross Rider (video)

Stay healthy

A frustrating part of training through the winter is the seemingly inevitable colds, stomach bugs or bouts of flu. However, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid them. Hygiene is key, especially thorough hand washing and the use of a disinfectant gel. Consider a Vitamin D supplement. NHS advice is to take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (μg) of D3 during the winter months. Finally, if you’re not well, be sensible and take some time off the bike.

Cycling and Illness

 

Get some sun

Booking some warm weather riding will not only give you a real physical and mental boost but will also give you  something to work towards. Try to schedule in a recovery week before you go away, don’t ramp up your volume too dramatically and allow some recovery when you get back.

Top Tips for Riding and Racing Abroad
Top Tips for Flying with your Bike

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