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Complete guide to winter road cycling

Winter road cycling can be amazing, if you’re fully prepared. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets, quiet misty roads with barely another soul in sight – even riding in the rain is fun if you wear the right kit and have a steaming hot brew and a bath waiting for you at the other end. We’ve pulled together all the help, advice, hints and tips you need to make the most of winter riding into article. 

  • Best winter cycling clothing
  • Get your road bike ready for winter
  • Prepare your mountain bike for winter

With modern clothing, equipment and some forethought, you can ride happily all through the winter and you’ll emerge next spring a ?tter and stronger rider. It’s all about attitude: if you anticipate that getting up early will be a miserable experience, and spend your whole ride dreaming of those extra hours in bed, it won’t be enjoyable.

Bad weather should be seen as a reason to get on your bike – negotiating your way through rain and mud will help you learn new skills, improve your balance and push your riding to a new level. Who needs sunshine?


Get out and ride

1. Get motivated

One of the hardest aspects of winter training is getting out the door onto the bike: ‘from bed to shed’. Even the slightest distraction or reason not to ride, such as not having your favourite socks clean, can be enough to return to the warm embrace of your duvet. Counter this by making sure all your kit is ready. Make a deal with yourself that, if you don’t feel like riding, as long as you’ve given it a 10-minute go, you can ditch the session. Typically, once you’re out you’ll feel good and go on to ride a full session.

Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter. According to the SAD Association, seven percent of the UK population suffer from the full condition, with a further 17 percent suffering from milder but still signi?cant ‘winter blues’. The condition, caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain, can rob you of energy, motivation and enthusiasm. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to combat it, but often the motivation to exercise is low, creating a vicious circle.

2. Layer up

  • Shell: Softshell and waterproof jackets should provide wind stopping coverage to the belly, chest and groin – core areas you need to keep warm
  • Base: A moisture-wicking baselayer that keeps the body dry is crucial. Wear an extra thin layer rather than one that’s too thick
  • Mid: A thermal layer worn over your baselayer will keep the warmth in, but should work with the base and shell to let sweat vapour out
  • Legs: Full-length bib tights are an essential
  • Extremities: Look after them; a fleece beanie that covers your ears; windproof gloves; and two pairs of socks or outer protection overshoes

3. Ride safe

  • Best bike lights for road cycling

4. Try out new routes

Winter training

5. Plan to succeed

  • Reflect: Look back over your performances in key races, sportives or rides. What went right? And what went wrong? Did you perform as you expected, and if not, why not?
  • Focus: Identify two or three major rides, races or sportives for next season that’ll be your main focus. These, and your expected performances in them, are your long-term goals.
  • Train: Work out how much time you can dedicate to training each week. Don’t forget to include your commutes, and try to be realistic and honest with yourself – there’s no point in scheduling 5am rides if you know you won’t get up.
  • Plan: Work back from your long-term goals and construct a training plan based on your week’s training timetable. There are some excellent books available to help you, such as The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, Serious Cycling by Edmund Burke and Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan. There are also online packages such as
  • Goals: Include in the plan some medium-term goals, which can be less important rides or races or weight loss targets. These should provide stepping stones to your main goals. Set four or ?ve short-term goals each week: completing all your training sessions, not having puddings during the week, cleaning your bike after each ride… anything that will contribute to your training moving forwards. Write them down and stick them up somewhere you’ll see them every day.

6. Go faster

7. Ride strong

8. Group hug

9. Turbo-boost

  • Turbo trainer workout videos – a complete programme for winter.
  •  Warm up with 10 minutes of easy spinning, increasing the intensity during the second ?ve minutes
  •  Perform eight 20-second ?at-out efforts with 10 seconds of recovery in between
  •  Cool down with 10 minutes of easy spinning

10. Take a break every fourth week

11. Get muddy!

Winter training and preparation off the bike

12. Time out

13. Eat well

14. Hit the gym

  • Lunges: As a single-legged movement, the crossover to cycling is obvious. To increase the load, work with a barbell across your shoulders or hold dumbbells.
  • Single arm rows: When climbing out of the saddle, one arm pushes and one arm pulls with every pedal stroke. This exercise works those pulling muscles.
  • Dumbbell chest press: Works the pushing muscles of your upper body. Because of the range of movement and control needed, it’s more effective than barbells.
  • Deadlift: This strengthens and increases ?exibility of the lower back and the hamstrings, both of which are typically weak and tight in cyclists.
  • Plank: This exercise works the deep stabiliser muscles of your trunk and is far more bene?cial and relevant than sit-ups or crunches. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds.

15. Go for a run

  • 10 minutes easy jogging warm-up.
  • 10 x 30 seconds up as steep a hill as possible at 100 per cent effort with a jog-down recovery between uphill sprints.
  • 10 minutes easy jogging cool-down.
  • 10 minutes easy jogging warm-up.
  • 4-6 x 5 minutes up a moderate to steep hill at a pace best described as ‘sustainable discomfort’. This will translate as 85-95% of max heart rate, or only being able to speak in short, clipped sentences or single word replies, with a jog-down recovery after each.
  • 10 minutes easy jogging cool-down.

Prepare your bike for winter

16. Safety checks

17. Get a dedicated training bike

You can

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September-to-September comparisons show double-digit drops in units and dollars.

BPSA: Bike shipments down 8% through third quarter

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BPSA: Bike shipments down 8% through third quarter

September-to-September comparisons show double-digit drops in units and dollars. BOULDER, Colo.

North America Cycles offers Overade Plixi folding helmet

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