The arrival of snow, sleet and driving rain are just some of the signs that winter is here; it’s time to put the bike back into the shed until spring rolls around. But what about those that want to stay fit and prepare for the cycling season ahead? How do you train when Mother Nature is trying her hardest to stop you?
Turbocharge your training
Wintery conditions aren’t the best for cycling in, but there are some circumstances where we can just about manage them and head out for a day of cycling. For those colder, more miserable days however, indoor training is the next best thing. While it will never replicate the outside world, the benefits of indoor training can never be underestimated.
For high-intensity workouts, cycling on a turbo trainer is not only convenient, but also incredibly effective. Resistance can be ramped up or down in a way that riding on the roads just can’t do as simply. You’re also free to lay down as much power as you want, without the fear of traffic or poor road conditions, allowing you to channel all of your efforts into what matters – training.
There’s no denying that these indoor sessions can get a little samey however, and if you’re using them to substitute your long, outdoor rides then you’re just going to end up getting incredibly bored. Mixing up your week with several short indoor interval sessions before one long outdoor ride at the weekend is the perfect combination, allowing you to reap the benefits from both training disciplines while also maximising fun.
Longer rides needn’t always be outdoors however, not with all the new technology appearing on the market. With a combination of Wahoo’s unique indoor climb and headwind simulators and Zwift’s virtual reality cycling world, you can create your very own winter Grand Tour, all within the comfort of your living room.
Brave the outdoors
For those pedalling purists that aren’t quite ready to hop aboard the indoor training bandwagon, here are some top tips for outdoor winter training:
Wrap up warm: It’s a no-brainer, but some riders can forget to throw on the thermals when they’re heading out for more explosive short ridea. The beauty, but also danger, of outdoor riding is that you never quite know where you’re going to end up and what the weather is going to be like, so always prepare for the worst conditions imaginable. After all, we live in the UK and bad conditions are always just around the corner.
Stay visible: Gloomy winter days are some of the most dangerous times to be out on the road. Be sure to strap on your brightest lights to not only warn your fellow road users of your presence, but also to help you to find your way home in the dark.
Plan in advance: If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. The complications that can arise on a winter ride can be a much bigger deal than in other seasons. At this time of year, it’s important to plan your route carefully and make sure someone knows where you’re going. If in doubt, plan a sort ride on roads you know well, keeping intensity high and risk nice and low.
Ride with friends: Everything is made better with friends. Riding buddies can help shield you from the wind and rain, but they can also support you emotionally, spurring you on to complete one extra effort.
There’s a reason that all the pros head to sun-kissed cycling destinations during the winter, they’re simply the best places to train. If you’re reluctant to invest in a high-tech indoor setup or reluctant to brave the UK’s weather, then a trip abroad may just be the best thing for you.
Girona, Majorca, Tenerife and Calpe are all perfect and popular destinations for a cycling retreat. Each have their own unique flavour when it comes to cycling, but there is one thing they all share in abundance – sun!
We hope this quick guide to winter training has given you the motivation to put in the extra miles this off-season. If you’re looking to brave the outdoors, then you may just want a quick lesson in bike cleaning and how to wrap up warm in the coldest of conditions.