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Winter Riding Motivation- just get out and ride!

Velo Ulverston | 26/01/2018 14:45:00


Need some winter riding motivation? You’re not alone!

We’ve had our shortest day, but there still seems to be a never ending cycle of wind and rain. It’s easy to let the days pass without a ride, finding every excuse in the book to avoid getting out on your bike. It’s too cold, wet or windy. My light isn’t charged. My shoes aren’t dry. I need to go shopping. It is now that you need to remind yourself that “winter miles means summer smiles”. When you’re struggling for motivation, fast forward to spring, when some extra fitness, or those skills that you gain whilst sliding around in the mud, will all seem worth it.

I’ll admit, I hate winter. I really do, but I just keep pedalling through it. There are a few techniques that I like to use, some ways to maintain my motivation and stay committed to the bike, so I’ve decided to share them. I won’t say that they’re infallible, but here goes….

1) Enter an event. Whatever your discipline, get yourself signed up to something in spring. My last two winters have been consumed by getting myself prepared for the Fred Whitton Challenge in May. Pick something suitably difficult so that you’ll struggle with no training, but don’t be unrealistic!


2) Buy some new kit! I don’t mean luxuries-we’re talking essentials! Winter boots, a new jacket, thermal bib tights, waterproof shorts, heated gloves. You name it, if it makes your ride more enjoyable, you can justify it. Winter tyres for your road bike are a worthy investment; changing a tube at the side of the road is never good, but it’s a lot worse when you lost the use of your fingers hours ago!


3) Buy some tech...a turbo trainer can be your best friend when the weather is bad and the skies are dark. If pedalling in a virtual world isn’t your thing, buy some lights and get out in the dark. It’s a whole new world!

4) Whilst we’re buying new things, why not justify a new bike to get you through winter? A winter road bike, with mud guards, disc brakes and a slightly wider, heavier duty tyre can transform your winter rides, and save your ‘best bike’ for good conditions. Or how about a cyclocross or gravel bike? You can mix up your routes with bridlepaths and forest roads, giving you loads more options. If you are more of an MTBer, invest in a light and nifty hardtail. There is less maintenance, easier cleaning, and they are a bit more efficient for getting further afield.

5) Book a holiday/training camp. Book something for February/March, when you’ve had enough of winter. It will give you have something to look forward to, and is perfect for getting a solid week of riding done without having to fight the elements. Alternatively, book yourself onto a summer riding trip; with a solid block of riding on the horizon, you’ve got a reason to find some fitness.


6) Do something different! If you can’t face going out and getting muddy, or you haven’t got several hours to spend on the roads, try running. You can achieve much more in a short space of time. Trail running is my personal favourite; it’s more forgiving than road running, far more interesting, and you can scout out new routes for your XC ride. If running isn’t for you, then walk, swim or do some conditioning in the comfort of your living room. Anything is better than nothing!

7) Find some friends. Most of my riding is done on my own, and when I’m being battered by rain, and my hands and feet are numb, I sometimes find myself heading for home earlier than planned. If you’re out with a group, you’ll enjoy it much more, and you will have somebody to push you further and faster. Also, if somebody is waiting for you at your meeting point, you’ve got to go!


8) Find a favourite cafe. This technique isn’t for everyone! When you’re riding in winter, starting again after a mid ride stop can be horrific. However, for me, if I know that I’m going to get a lovely hot coffee, and maybe (OK, definitely) some cake mid way, I’m much more keen. Cafes are useful when you’re doing long winter miles, but if you’re out to work hard, for a shorter period of time, think twice before stopping for cake!


9) Take awesome ride food/drink with you. If I’m heading out on a cold one, I fill my bottle with hot squash. Some people I know take a hip flask of whiskey. Others just take a flask of tea. If you’re taking food, take something with some substance-my favourite is fruit cake (homemade of course!), and Soreen is good, but don’t expect to eat it quickly. Gels and energy chews certainly serve their purpose, but in the bleak mid winter, you can’t beat real food to warm you up.

10) Commute by bike. I racked up over 13,000km in 2017, and I owe a significant portion of that to commuting. You’ll be thoroughly awake when you get to work, and you save fuel. When you come to leave, it doesn’t matter how horrible it is, all you have to do is get home. And if you don’t live and work on a trainline, you’ve committed, so you haven’t really got a choice!

So why are you still reading...get out and ride!