6 WAYS TO STAY MOTIVATED THIS WINTER
By Stan Portus – 20 December 2019
We highlight six of our favourite ways to keep motivation high – and you on the bike – through the height of winter.
With the winter equinox just around the corner and the weather – theoretically at least – at its worst, staying motivated at this time of year can be a hard task. It’s easy to let training tail off when staying inside seems like a far better shout than getting out on the bike. But putting in the work now will pay dividends come spring.
So, how do you stay motivated? We’ve brought together some tips to keep you riding this winter.
Plan Your 2020
It can be easy to let bad weather stall your motivation, but better days will come around quick enough, and having a few goals in mind will spur you to get out and keep up your fitness over the months.
There are seemingly thousands of cycling vents held across the summer months from highly organised sportives that lay on everything you could possibly need to smaller randonneuring events and races too. British Cycling is a great way to find out about events near you or further afield.
The Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge is probably the ultimate cycling challenge in the UK. It is a mean feat for any cyclist and the event’s notoriety and the kudos gained from saying you’ve done it will keep you motivated throughout the winter and well into the warmer months.
Explore new routes
We’ve all been there: you fall into a routine of cycling the same few routes where avoiding potholes is muscle memory and you know exactly when and where you have to put the effort in. But often, it’s the exact opposite of this that is so appealing about cycling: finding new routes, lanes or trails will add that sense of discovery that probably got us all out on bikes in the first place. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, it opens up plenty of new KOM attempts.
Try something new
Come winter, cyclocross is in full flight. CX races are a great way to improve your bike handling skills, require little specialist equipment outside of a basic gravel or CX rig and with the races being short and hard, they provide a powerful boost to your fitness.
Being held on off-road, closed circuits cyclocross also has the added bonus of getting you away from traffic at a time of year where visibility can be low and there is far more muck on the road – not that you’ll lack for that on a CX course!
Take a break
This one may seem counterintuitive, but the ‘off-season’ is a great time to recalibrate physically and psychologically.
Training helps you build your fitness but with it can come a build-up of fatigue, which can have unwanted consequences such as a weakened immune system. Taking a break for a few weeks might seem like an unfathomable prospect, but fitness is longer lasting than fatigue so you will come back with a minor drop in your fitness but feeling fresh and reinvigorated.
A break is also an excellent opportunity to focus on other aspects of your fitness and strength. Cycling can be quite a strain on your body and taking some time to work on your core strength for instance will reap large benefits come the new cycling season.
Dress for the Weather
Making sure you’ve got the right kit is probably one of the best ways to stay motivated when the weather turns foul. There is nothing quite as off putting as knowing you’re going to get wet and cold within minutes of stepping out of the door.
The British winter is getting milder and wetter. During the winter of 2018/19 rainfall was 77% higher than the 1981-2010 average, and the temperature was 1.4˚C higher too. Castelli’s Rain or Shine collection, featuring stalwart classics like the Gabba jersey, is perfectly suited to these conditions and will keep you protected against the elements.
Ride with your mates
Yes, cycling is a great form of escapism. There is nothing quite like getting out into the world, seeking some solitude for a few hours and focusing almost entirely on what your body needs and is doing in the moment. But cycling is a brilliantly social thing, too, and friends can prove the best inspiration for getting out. It’s much easier to get that 6am prework spin in if it’s with a mate and catching up with company is always a good excuse to dive into a café mid-ride for (the almost obligatory) coffee and cake.
Cycling is also a great way to meet new people. Joining a club will introduce you to like-minded people, and with weekly club rides that run year-round you will always have people to ride with. In the depths of winter, come rain or shine, snow, sleet or worse knowing that people will be out riding is probably the best motivation there is.