As the nights draw in and the days get colder, the thought of battling the elements on the bike can seem increasingly less appealing. But with a little preparation winter riding doesn't need to be in unpleasant. Peter Frost of Greek Cycling Holidays gives you his top five tips for training this winter.
Sometimes it’s hard enough to motivate yourself to go out solo in the summer never mind the winter. Making firm plans with friends or club mates means you are far more likely to make it out the door and far less likely to come up with last minute excuses like it’s cold/it’s wet/it’s windy/it's dark/all of the above.
Plus you get to have some craic in the cafe or pub afterwards. (This alone makes it worth it.)
Proper cold weather clothing will make a big difference to your winter rides. I'm not going go all technical (there’s plenty of places to look for breathability/waterproofing material jargon) but go for layers. Don’t forget you need to be cold when you set off as you will soon heat up. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and don’t forget to take all the appropriate kit. Winter means more crap on the roads and an increased likelihood of punctures. The last thing you want is to be stranded without a spare tube.
Visibility on gloomy winter days or even nights is key. Most winter kit has reflective elements nowadays so you don’t need to buy specific hi vis kit.
Lights front and back, obviously, although you don’t have to look like a Christmas tree. Do make sure they have enough charge for all of your ride and then some in case of emergencies.
Whether that be an annual mileage target, Strava based events or even sign up for a early spring sportive or warm weather cycling holiday, having a goal will mean you will have that added bit of motivation that will make the difference between the warmth of the sofa and a short blast round the lanes. Healthy competition between you and your cycling buddies won’t go amiss either. Just keep in mind that winter conditions mean speed targets and KOMs will be harder to bag.
Or if you don’t subscribe to N+1 then at least make sure you “winterfy” your existing bike. Mudguards not only save your backside from the worst of the spray they stop most of the crap spraying to the face of you riding buddy behind (of course they are behind, see points 1 and 4).
Plenty of TLC post ride will mean that wear and tear from the salt, grit and grime is minimised. Also opting for wider, treaded tyres will give you added confidence in the wet.
At this point most blogs on this subject will say if all else fails get a turbo trainer. I say don’t, put some layers on, grab some mates and ride outdoors you won’t regret it once you’re out.