During the off season a Tour de France rider will usually take around three to four weeks completely off the bike after their last ride of the season. This rider has years of fitness and after such a intense race calendar, probably needs to put their feet up for a bit! When the recovery period is up, they’ll begin a winter filled with long, steady rides, as well as core exercises. Whilst we may not be riding the Tour de France next year, we should acknowledge the importance of rest and recovery. However, if we took 3-4 weeks off, we would lose a huge amount of fitness (which unless cycling is your full time job, will take hours and hours of riding to find again!), so take a week off, recover and relax. We can then use this time to start planning our training for the coming months. During the wintertime, we should concentrate on building the mileage in our legs, slowly but surely. Perhaps join a Strava challenge or create some challenges with your friends. It will keep you motivated on those days when you just want to give up. But remember, a mile is better than no miles at all!
Joining a club can be one of the most rewarding things about cycling. Last winter I was a member of two clubs for track and road. Before joining I had only ever ridden alone and this ultimately meant I took a big chunk of time off the bike during winter because it didn’t feel safe enough alone – the Chiltern roads can be slippery! With a club, you not only have the factor that you are riding with experienced riders and have a sense of safety, but the club will motivate you during the hardest times on the bike. You create life long friendships, meeting people you may not have met otherwise because you all have that one thing in common, and that’s a passion for cycling. Joining a club can be daunting at first; it’s like starting at a new school, but believe me, it’s worth it and people are definitely never as scary as they may seem! Click here to find out where your local club is located and get riding!
Ever wondered how Peter Sagan developed such world-class bike handling skills? Well, Sagan began racing Cyclocross, the wet and muddy sister of road cycling. Of course, Sagan has natural talent, but they were developed and strengthened by riding in Cyclocross races. Riding in, let’s say, less desirable conditions has its up sides too. With good tyres and a bike that is winter ready, swerving around puddles, bunny-hopping potholes, descending on a rainy day, helps to improve your bike handling skills dramatically. You could also dive into the world of cross. There’s more to it than just getting dirty, so if you want to improve bike-handling, cross is the way to go!
It’s time to swap those mesh base layers and lightweight bibs for deep winter base layers and fully thermal bib tights. To get through those freezing cold morning rides; you’ll need to be prepared. You’ll begin to realize the importance of accessorizing. Winter gloves will become your new best friend and overshoes will be an essential, but when you’re prepared for anything Mother Nature can hit you with, you’ll be singing from the top of Box Hill, with not a care in the world! There’s so much on offer today in terms of kit so things can get confusing, as well as expensive! So, we will be doing a guide all things kit related soon, so keep a look out!
The greatest thing about winter riding is the confidence and strength it rewards you with in the spring. Regardless of how hard you trained or how much food you ate over Christmas, on the days you do ride you’ll be overwhelmed with a sense of pride. You rode through conditions that would turn even the most dedicated person off, you gave yourself a challenge and you achieved what you set out to do. You’ll feel physically and mentally ready for what the year has in store for you. So whether it’s a race, sportive, or a personal goal, you’ll be ready to take it on.