It's Winter, so what!
When our focus is on tan lines and BBQs it’s easy to lose track of the summer weeks, forgetting that our long fingered glove-free time is short and so I wonder, how many of us plan and prep for the inevitable British winter miles. We ride throughout the summer taking for granted the long days and dry roads, forgetting the previous winters’ cold, the mud & sludge, undressing at the back door and of course the constant bike washing.. and rightfully so to be honest, after all it’s this summer that has spurred us on last winter.
But what if we planned in the spring for what 'IS' going to happen? What if the winter whip was serviced in April when it doesn’t matter if there is a two week wait on parts rather than in October. What if you had washed and packed up your winter thermals, replaced the cleats on your winter shoes and patched up those trusty 5 year old tights. A seamless transition for the mind and body into winter can only help your performance. The body keeps going and the mind has already adjusted, there are no spoilers quashing motivation as everything was ready months ago. For me personally there is nothing worse than a dry dirty bike hanging in the shed and so as soon as the clocks changed in March my trusty Specialized Allez was serviced, hung and placed on pause for the summer. Experience has taught me that mentally I'll be looking for an excuse to use the car for work, avoiding the chaingang and use that transition time as an indefinite break rather than plan my rest weeks in advance as I now do. Its important to have a break, take a holiday and spend time with the family and catch up on all those chores that were instantly disregarded as soon as that WhatsApp message came in to meet for a ride. Use that planned rest to look back at your summer performances, set achievable winter goals, sort out any injuries and your position should that have changed or been an issue. If like me you have a few winter races planned then adapt your training to accommodate, use your rollers wisely be it with Zwift or otherwise. If you are really serious and considering a coach then take advice and shop around, they are all different.
If you have ever wondered if a winter bike is needed, as a cyclist it doesn't matter whether you're racing, taking part in sportives or just love riding your bike, the undocumented formula of N+1 (number of bikes you have plus the one you don't but need to buy) comes into effect, as I thoroughly recommend a winter whip. Complete with mudguards, heavy-duty tyres, ample lights and a fitted pump, it makes a huge difference to your training and ultimately your wallet. Where is the sense in training through the winter on a pair of wheels that cost the same as a second bike. Check out the Pro’s if you don’t believe me. Of course as soon as you buy one you need to post something on facebook telling everyone this is not your main ride. Also, get excited about lights and tyres, I say this from a personal perspective as there is some awesome kit out there.
Another useful tip is to research all that is bling and wonderful for the forthcoming winter season from the various clothing brands. Fabrics do wear and lose some quality after years of washing so if its been a while, treat yourself, check when the new stock is to hit the shelves as it goes quick! However, in my experience the saying ‘buy cheap buy twice’ has never been more suited to anything than it is to cycle clothing.
Finally when it comes to actually doing some riding, maybe try something different. If you haven’t already discovered the joys of gravel then do it! Perhaps make that N+1 a Gravel Bike, the Swiss Army Knife of bikes. For me personally I have dabbled with a bit of cyclo-cross which I love and plan on doing some more this winter. My rest period was slightly forced at the end of August with my son being ill for a couple of weeks, however I was able to fit in short sessions of high intensity which were perfect for this discipline.
Last winter I used my cross bike on the gravel tracks in the New Forest and the Castleman Trail for some night riding. Not only did this give me that one long ride mid-week, much better than those damn boring rollers but it was in fact incredibly exhilarating and a massively rewarding experience. The still of the night air and the company of friends silenced by their concentration on the lamp lit trail is awesome and highly recommended. Should anyone wish to experience group night ride, I have planned a series of rides to help those who have not ridden after hours before and to also give others a break from the rollers or even the sofa. The dates of which are listed below.
I will also be doing some power/sprint sessions on the road focusing on technique and delivery, again simply there for anyone who wishes to stretch their legs with some company. These are based on a short stretch of road so no need to worry about keeping up or riding in a group.
Remember, get organised, stay safe and I hope to see you on a ride soon.
23/10/19 - 1900hrs Gravel by Night, meeting outside Moyles Court School, Ringwood. 90 mins (Gravel/MTB)
30/10/19 - 1900hrs Winter Sprinter, meeting outside the Cafe, Hengistbury Head. 1hr (Road)
13/11/19 - 1900hrs Castleman or Woman, meeting outside Costa, Holes Bay, Poole. 2hrs (Gravel/MTB)
20/11/19 - 1900hrs Winter Sprinter, Hengistbury Head.
27/11/19 - 1900hrs Gravel by Night, Moyles Court School.
11/12/19 - 1900hrs Winter Sprinter, Hengistbury Head.
18/12/19 - 1900hrs Castleman or Woman, Costa, Holes Bay.
Please bring lights and spare tubes etc.