Brrrr ….. Been feeling it in the early mornings? Yes, it’s officially winter.
Each and every year it’s a similar challenge, one as difficult to uphold as it is to get your head around. Maintaining a personally acceptable level of bike fitness despite the colder weather, darker starts and half frozen fingertips.
In the lead up to major events or busier times on the cycling calendar, it always seems to go the same way. “There’s plenty of time to train,” we say. But invariably those days become weeks, the weeks months, and before we know it the event or occasion is frighteningly close.
Have a read of our top tips for training for your next Gran Fondo to keep on top of your game!
A Bike Check & Fit?
A bike fit does not last forever! Periodically it is well worth – and can be extremely beneficial – ensuring you are getting optimum performance form yourself and your steed. For any sort of training you need to be as comfortable and efficient on the bike as possible. It’s critical to get your bike fit sorted before you commence a solid training block.
Service And Maintenance
How long since your bike was last properly serviced? Mechanical problems generally creep up slowly … you might not even realise but before you know it there may be ten wasted watts or more through your drivetrain alone! While you’re in there getting a bike fit why not treat your bike to a full service and check up.
Make A Plan & Ride With Mates
Put together a training plan to work out the amount of preparation you need to do for your chosen distance. Never ridden a century but using the 90km or 120km events to help achieve the goal?
Work to it gradually – starting with 50km, then 75 km, then the big one, the 100km. Look closely at the elevation you are training on and try to incorporate similar course elevation to that of your chosen course.
Stick To Your Goals
Planning is a critical component of success. Set your goals and stick to them using helpful apps such as Strava, Garmin Connect or Map My Ride. Logging your hours or kilometres even via a simple note on the fridge can help you stick to your end goal. Make a pact with riding buddies, stick to not only meet ups but your individual and weekly targets, and steadily build strength and form so you’re best prepared for the event.
We agree winter mornings are not terribly conducive to being outdoors. Fortunately we riders can now enjoy the luxury of having the most technologically advanced training systems easily available indoors. Platforms such as Zwift make winter training enjoyable, competitive, motivational, and productive!
If you can’t ride inside or love the outdoors, check out the tips below to help you stay warm and safe.
Invest In Quality Winter Kit
Cycling kit has come ahead in leaps and bounds over recent years with many toasty warm yet lightweight and breathable products around – light, thin and comfortable fabrics offering more insulation and better all round efficiency than ever before.
Be Seen Out There
High powered lights are ideal for darker mornings, early evenings, and night riding. It seems bike light and battery technology is being boosted year on year – there’s simply no excuse not to have front and rear lights fitted to your bike. Day and night running lights are a no brainer, we don’t leave home without them and nor should you.
When preparing for a cold to cool weather ride dress for the expected temperature 20 to 30 minutes into the ride. You might be a little colder when you initially roll out but for the majority of the ride you’ll be far more comfortable (and carrying less excessive gear).
Head, Hands & Feet
Remember your extremities – your head, hands and feet. Headwear such as a thermal scull cap or winter cycling cap is critical – up to 30% of heat is lost through the head. A wide variety of high quality half, three quarter and full fingered cycling gloves are also available and mandatory for not just warmth but hand protection – particularly during the cooler months.
Quality thermal socks are also important as are waterproof / windproof shoe covers that will ensure your precious training time remains far more bearable during the cooler months.
The simply inclusion of rear mudguard can also make a major difference in winter. Most bike shops stock ‘ass saver’ type spray and splatter guards – disposable versions are also readily available.
Retain Your Mojo
One of the major challenges of winter is maintaining that warm-weather mojo. With the Noosa Classic on August 26 and the Bowral Classic just 5-months away and counting, it’s important to keep training, to retain and maintain fitness and ensure you’re in the finest possible form on event day.
Set weekly targets on Strava, register for distance and altitude challenges and arrange regular rides with friends. You may even want to set a pact with mates that you’ll motivate and encourage each other, all powering on despite the conditions.
What are your winter training techniques? We’d love to hear your comments … Have your say in comments below.