It’s easy to feel demotivated to cycle when it is cold and wet outside during the winter, but once you do it, the endorphins will start kicking in and you'll be glad you did so! If you need some convincing, here are my top tips to help you get out there and enjoy some winter cycling.
1. Join a club
Do not be discouraged if you struggle to keep up with the bunch or have to sit at the back for the whole ride. It’s happened to the best of us that while we get into shape - completing our club rides can be a big challenge. Joining a club is important because it teaches us essential lessons about group riding, which is actually a requirement for many sportives and races as you are expected to know how to ride in close proximity to other riders. But the greatest reason to join a club is that it makes cycling more fun and encourages you to get on the saddle. You can make new friends and be around people with similar interests.
If you pick the right club for your skills and abilities, you will find that riders are more than happy to offer advice on the rules of group riding and will likely set the pace according to your speed during the first few rides. A chat over a cup of coffee or tea at the end of the ride is also a great way to unwind and feel happy about the ride you just accomplished. Finally, publicly committing to going on that Saturday morning ride will ensure you go even if you wake up on the day to find that it’s raining!
Which brings me to my next point…
2. Get out there, even if it’s raining
Let’s face it, it’s winter in England. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s likely raining. The odds are that you will wake up in the morning, look out the window, and it will be wet. So if you think about it, choosing not to cycle when it’s raining greatly reduces the amount of rides you can do if you live in this country. Why not just go with the flow and cycle in the rain? Plus, riding in the rain builds character. Cycle fast and come back home for a nice cup of hot chocolate, you will think to yourself that it was all worth the effort.
3. Get kitted out
Somebody very wise once told me, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” So stock up on all your wet and cold weather essentials because there is an unbelievable amount of choice out there from overshoes that will keep your feet dry, to waterproof jackets, leg warmers, and cold weather gloves, the list goes on and on. There is a growing amount of women specific cycling clothes and accessories so it’s an exciting time to be a woman cyclist. We can now get beautiful, stylish clothes off and on the bike!
4. Enrol yourself
Enrolling in a competitive event will motivate you to get training. Your chosen event will determine the types of routes you train in, whether it's a long hilly ride or a short and fast time trial. So consider choosing something that will be suitable to the kinds of routes you can access easily from your home or work. You can even make it a yearly event and compare your time to previous races, it’s a great incentive to train hard and beat your PB (personal best).
5. Buy a turbo trainer
When it's just not possible to get out (hurricanes, tornado's, blizzards and tropical storms) you can still do your training at home. It’s not the same as cycling on the road and turbo trainers can be a bit fiddly, for example, they can skip or be slightly tilted and put pressure on your hands. But if it’s the only option, it’s the best option. You can also exercise whilst watching your favourite TV shows and movies, which is always a plus!
6. Reward yourself
Training all year round has a purpose. Good health, staying consistently fit, being able to wear bikinis in the summer! After you have done a few steady weeks/months of winter training, why not reward yourself to keep up the good work? Go on a training holiday, for example.
There are numerous locations close to the UK that you can go to depending on what you seek: fair weather (The Canary Islands), the mountains (The Alps or Pyrenees), long flat roads (Netherlands), or wine (Bordeaux, France). If packing your bike into a bike box seems like too much trouble then stay closer to home and think about a reward that will keep up your motivation. Get some nice winter gear, a juicer, or hot yoga classes, whatever it is, find something you cannot wait to enjoy!