As the temperatures drop and the nights draw in, many people hang up their wheels for the winter. However, if you do, you’ll miss out on a whole world of wonderful wintry riding, whether you race, commute or ride for fun and fitness.
Cyclo-Cross – the season continues – fun, all-conditions racing through winter
The cyclo-cross season is well underway by the time the clocks go back and the mercury falls. Winter usually means either muddy, slippery technical courses or fast, frosty, hard packed conditions. Either way, it’s frantic, fun racing in traffic-free conditions.
If you don’t fancy racing, go along to your next local cross and lend your support – it’s thrilling racing to watch, with each race packed with mini battles. If you get a taste for watching ‘cross, there’s the final rounds of the National Trophy Series at Derby, Bradford and Shrewsbury. Then there’s the culmination of the domestic season, the National Cyclo-Cross Championships on 7th-8th January. A great atmosphere and top class racing are guaranteed, even if balmy temperatures are not!
Track Racing – Come and try it
Indoor tracks in Manchester, Newport and Calshot mean year round velodrome action. The 250 metre Siberian pine track at Manchester has seen multiple world records fall and is housed within the state of the art National Cycling Centre complex, which now features a full scale indoor BMX track. The track offers regular taster sessions and structured quality training sessions, so whether you just want to have a go or take your track racing further, there’s something for you. Manchester also boasts a regular weekly track league allowing you to take your first steps into track racing. Clubs Sport City Velo and Eastlands Velo are based at the venue, offering a great environment in which to develop budding track racers. http://www.nationalcyclingcentre.com/
Newport in South Wales is also home to a 250 metre indoor velodrome. As well as a thriving winter track league, the venue offers 'beginners' and 'improvers' coaching sessions, as well as drop-in sessions including Easy Rider, Lunch Time, Early Bird, Vets club, Youth club and Youth sessions. http://www.newport.gov.uk/_dc/index.cfm?fuseaction=leisure.centres&contentid=cont067624
Calshot Velodrome near Southampton is part of Calshot Activities centre, a haven for thrill seekers on the south coast, housed in historic WW2 hangar buildings. Calshot boasts a short and vertiginously steep 160 metre wooden track built in 1997. With 60 degree banking, Calshot is a real thrill ride and tuition is available for everyone from complete novices to skilled riders. Calshot also boasts a thriving winter track league for those who want to make the step up to racing. http://www3.hants.gov.uk/calshot/track-cycling.htm
All three venues offer bike and equipment hire, meaning you can have a go without forking out hundreds of pounds on a new track bike.
Watch Track Racing
If riding the track is bit too hardcore for you, why not seek some inspiration and have a great day out at one of the big track cycling events this winter. Revolution is a hard-hitting, frenetic evening of track racing action featuring the biggest names in the sport, with great food, drink and music. A real night out at the track. Dates are 19th November, 7th January and 28th January. More information and tickets are available here: http://www.cyclingrevolution.com/index.php
Winter Riding Tips – keep warm, keep safe
If you’re a bike commuter and you’re determined to keep the faith throughout the winter, we’ve got helpful hints and advice to keep you warm, visible and motivated on those frosty mornings and evenings. Our how to commute by bike advice page is full of advice on the best clothing, equipment and lights to help you keep on trucking through the winter. Commute by bike homepage.
Where to Ride – Safe and beautiful winter riding
Despite the plummeting temperatures, there’s some beautiful riding out there at winter time. Mountain bike trail centres are awesome places to visit in the winter – their all weather surfaces hold up well throughout winter, they offer safe, waymarked riding and great cosy cafes to warm up and refuel afterwards. Try Coed Llandegla’s trail network – based near Wrexham – Llandegla has green, blue, red and black trails and one of the best trail centre cafes in the business, complete with bike hire, bike shop and bike wash facilities. Similar facilities exist in many other trail centres throughout the country.
The Forestry Commission website is the go-to resource mountain biking opportunities in the UK’s forests and woodlands, great places to explore in the winter. The Commission’s cycling page also allows you to search for less extreme trails suitable for beginners, young children or indeed anyone who’s after a gentler cycling experience. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/cycling
The Sustrans network of traffic free and lightly trafficked routes are great to explore at any time of year too. With well over 10,000 miles of National Cycle Network routes criss-crossing the country, there’s sure to be an approved, signposted route near you. Go to www.sustrans.org.uk for more details.
If it’s ready made winter ride ideas you’re looking for check out our Where to Ride homepage, with road, off-road and leisure routes throughout the regions.
Breeze Rides Continue Through Winter
Breeze – British Cycling’s fun, free, friendly and informal rides for women – continues throughout the winter and there are some great winter and festive themed rides on offer. Check out www.breezebikerides.com