It’s always hard to motivate yourself to ride at this time of year; its cold and wet outside, you’re in the middle of a gripping new TV series and the overindulgent eating and drinking throughout the Christmas period has left you feeling sluggish and unfit. Your New Year’s resolutions to be more active and eat healthier are already sat on the shelf growing dust while the sofa is becoming a lot more familiar. Despite this, you must resist the temptation to put it off until the better weather arrives in spring. As the age-old cycling proverb goes, ‘winter miles, summer smiles’, and as clichéd as it sounds, it represents the truth.
We, as cyclists, want nothing more than to ride the sweeping contours of stunning roads surrounded by sunlit vistas, sweating up climbs and coasting down hills, our faces fixed with a countenance of joy.
What we don’t want is to experience all of this while staring down at our stems, desperately gasping for breath and counting down the minutes until it’s time to stop for a break. In order to maximise the enjoyment of summer rides we must persevere through the uncomfortable winter months. So, that requires you, yes you, to leave your castle of comfort, throw on a few layers and get out into the cold to clock up some essential miles.
For those of you that aren’t keen on the great outdoors in the winter months and the seemingly constant deluge of rain then keep those Zwift miles high. Admittedly, indoor trainers don’t quite replicate the experience of spinning down country lanes with the wind blowing you all over the place. However, they’re the next best thing and will help you build/maintain your level of fitness until the sun starts blessing us with its presence.
Without doubt those first few miles are going to be tough. The cobwebs are clinging to your muscles for dear life and those previously well-oiled joints are creaking and moaning in despair, you may even feel sunk, like riding underwater, but it’s time to dig deep and push on. Have a plan, ride with an achievable distance, don’t get ahead of yourself and set out for a century unless you’ve maintained a good training programme throughout December. A steady 50 miles, or even 20, with some rolling hills and a good climb to get you back into the motions is what you need to get your year on the bike kick-started.
The hard work you put in now, slogging through the grey and cold countryside, will pay dividends when the darling buds of May start to bloom and you can keep those legs spinning for hours, so what are you waiting for?