With winter on doorstep, bringing lower temperature and bad weather conditions, such as rain, frost, wind, most riders will prefer coziness of their home than freezing on bicycle while training. Unless you are pro-cyclist or dedicated competitor, it is really hard to find enough motivation just for casual ride, rather than training regularly to maintain same level of cycling fitness. In order to keep shape, physical capabilities and performance on top, here are couple tips that will efficiently help any cyclists to overcome these difficulties:
- Change Your Training Regime by Lowering The Time Spent on Bike and Increasing Cycling effort
Is not that long cycling rides are less desirable during winter, but it is because daylight is shortened on northern hemisphere and last thing you need to get ‘caught’ cycling at dusk on freezing wind. You will reduce chances of injury and illness by shortening your riding and possibly have more time for other activities. It will also reduce the chances of getting bicycle defects and you won’t need so often to spend 5 to 10 min repairing tire, while losing precious body heat. Limit you training with no more than 1hr (with 15 min warm-up) and increase your power output choosing higher cadence to have quality aerobic exercise.
- Have Often Bicycle Maintenance Along With Having Proper Setup for Winter Conditions
How not maintaining bicycle will affect rider’s fitness? Not directly, but having cycling as a way of training to improve someone’s physical performance or endurance capabilities, it is important that exercise ‘tool’ must be in good shape.
Bike with crooked wheels, rusted chain, worn off tires, simply won’t do much and you might lose interest or motivation to continue training. Clean your bike often and protect it from elemental exposure. Apply special lubricant for winter conditions on mechanical parts and select wider, chunkier tires for better grip. Install mudguards along with traffic lights for your own protection and for high cadence training chose cassette with higher gear ratio (12-32 T).
- Dress Appropriate Cycling Clothes for Current Weather
Same as bicycle maintenance, clothing can indirectly influence on cycling fitness. Except keeping you warm and dry, appropriate clothing will reduce chances of getting illness. Last thing active rider needs is catching cold or another sickness and ending up few days in bed followed by 1 to 2 weeks taking medicaments. With sickness passing away, usually our body still needs some while to fully recover, and having so much time spent out of saddle could significantly decrease physical performance. In order to preserve health, bring enough clothes to keep you warm, wear under vest for sweat absorption, jacket for rain and wind protection and if it gets even colder skull cap, thick gloves & overshoes.
- Use Sunny Days for Longer Routes
If you can find enough time, follow weather forecast and try to make the most of every sunny day. Even on temperatures below zero, without a wind, it is possible to ride for multiple of hours on bicycle and not experiencing any kind of unpleasant things, such as frostbite or cold.
- Switch From Road to Indoor Cycling
This is the most efficient and comfortable way to maintain fitness via cycling, having warmth of you home and saving even more time for other obligations. It is enough to own stationary bike or cycling trainer and train 3 to 4 times per week, from 30 min to no more than 1 hour. If for some reason you do not want to own one (budget / space) and still want to give a try with indoor cycling, try going on spinning classes. Besides other people, you will have fitness class instructors with adequate knowledge and experience. They will make sure that no one leaves before getting soaked in sweat.
- Start to Gym Workout to Increase Strength of Cycling Core Muscles
It is not a bad idea, during winter times, to temporarily shift from intense cycling on chilly weather to gym workout exercises. It will save you a lot of pain and you will, besides maintaining fitness, have chance to improve your core muscles for cycling & efficient body support. Train 2 to 3 times a week, each day different muscle group and add running on treadmill 3 times per week from 15 to 45 min.
- Use Your Bike More for Commuting and Casual Rides
Try more often to commute with bicycle to work / school and have plenty casual cycling. Riding bike between 15 to 20 min per day as a way of transportation will be more than enough to maintain some of cycling fitness and it should be easier to restore it during early spring time.