There’s no getting away from it, Winter is around the corner and it’s easy for motivation levels to drop when the conditions deteriorate and the days shorten. When faced with low temperatures, high winds and persistent rain you can be easily tempted to take one look at the weather, reach for the tv remote, ease into your favourite armchair and Netflix binge instead of cycling outside in the dark. But by preparing for and showing commitment to all-weather riding, you get to continue to enjoy the many health benefits of cycling as well as build a satisfying sense of resilience and self-discipline.
Reasons to be cheerful – part one…
You’ll stay stronger and healthier
According to a study on cold-exposed and cold adapted humans, the immune system shows an increase in immune system activity when exposed to repeated cold treatments. Also, if you are fitter when you start your winter training then you aren’t going to need to stress your system quite as much to get back to peak form. One thing which can really impact on winter training is illness, but if your system isn’t as fatigued then your immune system won’t be as run down and you might stave off that cold.
Consistent training will help you later
Sticking to a training schedule during the autumn will make starting winter training much easier. Generally, fitness is lost more quickly than it’s gained, but maintaining is easier than gaining! ‘Little & Often‘ is the mantra – you don’t need to keep up those big summer distances so find a shorter, enjoyable, loop and ‘Own It‘! Set your cycling week to your times of day as regularly as possible. This is essential for getting you out of the house and onto the bike. If you don’t get organised, you’ll just keep putting it off.
Reasons to be cheerful – part two…
It will improve your mood dramatically
Due to a combination of shorter daylight hours, darker days and the tendency to stay in due to cold weather, winter is known to cause or worsen depression. If you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder), getting outside on your bike during the day can be doubly helpful.
Being around people and going out more often cycling will improve your daily mood during winter – FACT!
Studies have shown that cyclists are essentially happier people due to a combination of psychological and physiological factors that contribute to better mind-body health.
Get smart and gear up…it doesn’t have to be painful
Ok, it might be damp and chilly, but with the right gear you’ll give yourself a better chance to be able to enjoy it. Are your lights charged and winter tyres fitted? Is your warm winter (wet weather) kit in good condition, or does it need an upgrade? Do you have overshoes ready? Having the right gear will keep you riding in as much comfort as possible. And don’t forget to mount your mudguards which belong to the general cycling etiquette! Without mudguards, dirt is going to spray up all over your back and soak your backside and possibly even worse will make a mess of everyone behind you.
Make it fun and mix it up
Make ride an overnight adventure
Well, days are shorter – let’s gain more fun from the darkness! Recruit a mate or two, and together plan a longer-than-usual loop, with an overnight stay somewhere near the halfway point. This is a nice way to do some training with the added bonus of feeling like you’re on an adventure.
Try a new discipline
To keep your motivation up, why not try out a new discipline? Mountain biking on trails is great fun, even a short 30 mins on the trails can reward you you with so much. for the more competitive amongst you, Cyclo-cross is becoming increasingly popular and is one of the most accessible forms of bike racing and it also gives you a chance to work on your technique. Even if you don’t want to race, riding around on the trails or in the woods is a great way to spend a morning, especially when it’s raining and the road bike is hardly an appealing prospect.
Seek out the sun
Of course one thing you can do is to take yourself to warmer climbs and enjoy the sunshine on your back by taking a short break to cycling destinations south of our latitude. European Cycling Tours offer fantastic short break cycling breaks across the shoulder season months of the cycling calendar designed to keep your season rolling while enjoying spectacular locations in the off season. Check the dates page for details of future departures.
Wherever you are and whatever the weather…keep going – remember, you won’t be alone out there!
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