by Jess Fawcett
It’s easy to get disheartened when you think too hard about winter! It’s been long-sleeves-and-tights weather for over 5 months now and we probably still have one or two of the same coming up. Memories of last summer feel quite distant and plans for the upcoming summer aren’t fathomable just yet.
how to find the motivation to climb on the bike?
So, how do we keep finding the motivation to climb on the bike? Whether that’s long hours feeling the chill on our faces and losing the sensation in our fingers and toes, or shorter intense sessions on a stationary bike in the garage or back room staring at the top tube! On the face of it, those things don’t seem so fun. But with the right kit, the right attitude and the right friends to ride with, the winter can be just as great and, in some ways, more rewarding than the summer.
a cyclocross (CX) bike gives you confidence on wintery roads
At the start of this winter I got a cyclocross (CX) bike; partly for trying CX racing, but predominantly so I could safely ride on wintery roads. If you’re able to have a winter bike, it gives you confidence on days when the ground may be wet and gritty, and means you can adventure on the trails and lesser-known tracks. It can get muddy, but that’s all part of the fun! If a second bike isn’t realistic, then there are loads of things you can do to winter-ize your current bike; for example, using wider tyres with a ‘grippyer’ tread, attaching mud guards to your frame and being a bit stricter with yourself when it comes to giving your bike a clean after each ride (it’s a lot more susceptible to rusting once the salty road spray gets into all the nooks and crannies, so it’s best to wipe that away ASAP).
the right gear
If you have the right layers on, then you can overcome the cold! The NGNM kit is so technical I’ve been able to ride outside on days as cold as 0˚C. I find that I usually end up feeling the chill once I’ve stopped at a café and then tried to get going again. It’s because I’m sitting in my sweaty layers! Although it seems counterintuitive when you’re cold, I recommend removing as many layers as you can at the café, and letting them air out and dry as much as possible. Hog the radiator if you need to! Also, make sure your head is covered underneath your helmet and wear a pair of glove liners inside your winter gloves (I use ski glove liners!)
if you have an indoor bike or a turbo trainer, put on some awesome music or podcast!
When it’s dangerous outside because of snow and ice, I’d always say don’t risk it! If you want to exercise and progress towards your goals, there’s always something else you can do. If you have an indoor bike or a turbo trainer, put on some awesome music and get going. If you don’t have a plan, make something up!
Start with a 10-15 minute warm up, then aim to spend the next 20 or 30 minutes doing a mixture of steady riding, short sprints and ‘climbs’ out the saddle. Add on a cool down and before you know it you’ve done a really decent training session. Otherwise you could do a yoga video, a class at the gym, a brisk walk or a run... Don’t worry about miles or minutes, you can feel accomplished because you did something!
get inspired by your mates
Finally, make plans with your pals. If you wake up and it looks grey and the forecast says 4˚C you’ll still do your ride because you want to hang out with your mates. Challenge yourselves to get out there and face the elements. Even if you end up shortening the route, or stopping in 4 different cafes, at least you still got out there! Getting home, getting warm and eating a hot meal will feel ten times better because you got out there.
It’s true what they say, winter miles make for summer smiles; if you can keep some consistency and ride during the winter months, you’ll be ready and raring to go as soon as the sun peeps out. However, I’d also say, winter miles for winter smiles! The conditions are more difficult, it’s hard to wake up in the mornings and it takes about 30 minutes to apply all your layers, but the cool air feels exhilarating and the rewards feel greater!
You can follow Jess on IG @jessfaw and check out NGNM London rides headed by Jess on our Strava Cycling Club.
Photo Credit Francis Cade @francisccade