As the evenings become darker and this weird wet stuff begins falling more frequently from the sky, there is a hint that the seasons are changing.
For cycling especially, the transition is tough.
The roads become slippery and more dangerous.
Lights become a requirement, personally I’d even use them during the day (if it’s gray and raining).
You need more kit, winter jackets, long tights, covers for your shoes, warm hats, thick gloves and such.
You might even prepare your bike with mud guards to protect you and possibly your friend riding behind you…!
Then theres the heavy duty winter tyres and carrying a few extra inner tubes (as the likelihood of puncturing is higher in the winter)
And thats all the stuff you need to remember before heading out the door.
When out, you then face the actual cold. That biting feeling where your toes seem to disappear and you wonder how the heck you are going to hit the brakes when your fingers are that numb.
Those rides when you are soaked through to the skin, shivering and counting down the minutes to when you can get home and jump straight into that warm shower.
Of course, the better the kit you have, the more comfortable you’ll feel out on the road, thats for sure.
But what else can you do to make sure that you are ready to face your winter with success?
We discuss it in this blog post.
Lets start with:
- Gloves – Definitely a waterproof pair and sometimes, I’ll double glove if it’s really cold with a thin glove liner underneath a waterproof pair. The waterproof gloves I’ll personally use are by Sealskins: http://amzn.to/2hmw7IP (Mens) http://amzn.to/2fbJtH6 (Women’s)
- Overshoes – Cold feet are something I really can’t bare. I’ve tried everything. But the best combo last year was a pair of neoprene cycling shoes and then I had a pair of overshoes to go over the top. If you really suffer… then I used to wear two pairs of socks, and if this still isn’t enough, then a 5p plastic bag between the two pairs of socks works an absolute treat! These are the overshoes I use and love: http://amzn.to/2w9SXd6
- Jacket – Now you want to be warm, but when you are cycling, you don’t want to overheat… So you really want something insulted, waterproof but not too bulky right..? This is where one jacket stands out from the rest… The Castelli Gabba (now called the Perfetto) pretty much does it all. I must confess, I don’t have one, but it’s on my purchase list as everyone I know who has one, loves it, so I’ll be getting one very soon: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/castelli-perfetto-long-sleeve-jersey/ (mens) http://www.wiggle.co.uk/castelli-womens-perfetto-long-sleeve-jersey/ (women)
- Lights – Lights vary hugely depending on whether you need a set to see or be seen. For me, I generally go for the option of be seen as I don’t ride when it’s really dark. So I have a Moon rear light which does the job superbly and a relatively strong front light by Lezyne. But you can buy even more powerful lights that can literally light up the road ahead like a car headlight. So do plenty of research here, look especially into how you’ll recharge the lights, or if you can carry spare batteries too. All of this will help form a decision as to which options are best for you.
- Winter Tyres – Again, plenty of options on the market in this area. Personally I’ve always opted for Continental for my winter tyres, generally the Gatorskin (pretty much bullet proof! http://amzn.to/2w8S1pn) but last year I used the Continental Four Seasons (http://amzn.to/2xhXfmw) with zero issues either. The only plus would be that the Four Seasons definitely felt a bit lighter. But otherwise, to me, there wasn’t much to choose between the two.
Those are the top five things I’d research now and get winter ready, of course if I was given a few more options, I’d also include everything I listed in the introduction… But as I set myself a goal of keeping it to 5 things, those are the things I’d prioritise.
Obviously being the Director of a Indoor Cycling Studio, I’d need to say that having a turbo training is a definite wise investment for those winter months. The specific training you can get outweighs braving the wind and the rain hands down.
On a cold, wet, windy day, you are faced with easy miles. Go to hard and you could skid and come off. Indoors, you can push as hard as you like safe in the knowledge your bike is always going to stay the correct way up..! Plus the added benefit of zero punctures, less kit to wash and no stress about routes makes it much easier.
But what do you need to bear in mind with your training.
- Intensity – Is invaluable. Riding hard throughout the winter not only keeps your training interesting, it keeps off those unwanted lbs that will undoubtedly start creeping in over the festive period and when we all start wanting some of that comfort food. Intensity will also keep your fitness levels up and mean you’ll have fewer worried when the spring time comes around, so when everyone else is rushing their training trying to find some speed again, you’ll be well ahead of the game!
- Volume – How much you do. Volume is an easy one to understand. If you want to ride faster you need to spend more time in the saddle. But clearly this only works for a little while before you start running out of time available! What comes next..? During the year when there are competitions/events, I worry less about volume, but come winter, that number becomes a little more prominent, as to gain aerobic fitness you still need to be spending time at a steady pace, building up your base fitness – this is also why at HURTBOX, we will be introducing longer rides indoors over the winter period to tick this box too!
- Frequency – How often are you riding/running/swimming. To improve you need regularity and consistency in your training. Which is why we recommend for improvement in performance riders should aim for 2-3 rides per week at the HURTBOX. The sessions will target a wide variety of fitness zones, from speed work, to tempo rides to endurance rides. This frequency and consistency will build up your fitness over the winter. So find a patten that works for you and keep to it over the winter time.
- Keep it Varied – Indoor training can sometimes get boring and doing the same workouts, the some routes etc will get tiresome. This turns even the most motivated rider into someone dreading their workouts. This can quickly lead to riders dreading their turbo sessions and result in what I’m sure most people can relate to at some point… A turbo that doesn’t get used anymore. I hear it all the time, moaning about how boring the turbo it. But, I’m afraid the turbo isn’t boring… It’s what you are doing on it.
- Bear in mind… Your mind…: Turbo sessions are tough, theres no freewheeling, no respite, no stops for traffic lights and not even a coffee stop (possibly the worst thing about them..!) So not only is your body getting conditioned to become stronger than an ox, your mind is building up resilience. The stronger and longer you ride on a turbo, the easier you’ll find those outdoor rides.
We should be doing regular maintenance all year round… But winter brings a whole new challenge. The grit on the roads, the rain makes your bike get dirty pretty quickly. Leaving the grit and dirt on your bike not only makes it look pretty nasty and like you don’t look after it, its not really good for those moving parts either.
So here are five things to focus on with bike maintenance over the winter.
- Keep your chain oiled. A well oiled chain will look after you for much longer than a neglected one. Each ride, I’ll top up using the mud off lubricants, on wet days, use the wet lube (http://amzn.to/2ygA4FW)
- Check your cables for any grit and salt so that they are less like to cause problems when shifting gears and braking.
- Brake pads are likely to wear quicker during winter (grit on the rims and in the brake pads) so check them, and when they are getting anywhere close to the wear line, get them replaced. Riding at any speeds on a wet day, you’ll want to know your brakes are in tip top condition. Your life could literally depend on it.
- Wash regularly. I’m pretty awful at bike washing, generally I’ll aim for a weekly deep clean, but ideally after each ride you should be getting the grit off your pride and joy. Best product I’ve used is the mud off spray (http://amzn.to/2fe6wB7). Simply spray on at the end of your ride, leave for a couple of minutes and then use a wet sponge to wipe it clean. Then finish with the mud off silicone spray (http://amzn.to/2fd1KnD) for an amazing shiny finish.
- Check your tyres for wear and any cuts. Your tyres should ideally be checked before and after each ride. On a wet ride, grit from the road will stick to your tyre for longer and over the course of a ride can start to ingress into the tyre. At the end of the ride, it’s worth checking and seeing if anything has cut into the tyre and importantly it there is something sticking into the tyre, to get it out! This quick check can save you from getting a puncture early on your next ride. Therefore saving you a lot of time and frustration too.
If you do decide to brave it outside over the winter period, be safe but importantly keep your routes varied too. Test out some new locations, find a new coffee shop, and enjoy your rides. Thats why we ride right!?
In fact at HURTBOX, we’ve just invested in some new Wahoo Elemnt Bolts (with full mapping and turn by turn navigation) which we’ll be using on our rides this winter to ensure that our groups know exactly where they are going on their social rides. We’ll also be able to keep track of where the groups are as all the bike computers will be able to tell us where our group leaders are out on their ride – pretty cool feature!
If you have any questions about getting winter ready, feel free to email us using firstname.lastname@example.org – if you feel you could benefit from trying a months unlimited riding at HURTBOX to kick start your winter training, then check out the membership page and join us for one whole month for just £40.