This is a guest post by John Scripps, Head of Programming and Product Development at Lee Valley VeloPark.
1. Embrace the weather – Winter in the UK can feel like forever so don’t stay cooped up indoors. Our one mile road circuit is open all year round so it’s ideal for notching up your winter miles in a traffic free setting. Don’t be deterred by the rain either – once you’re wet, you’re wet, and it’s not all that bad if you’re wearing the right kit.
2. Embrace indoor training – Not to contradict tip 1… but if you’re really not feeling the cold why not take your training indoors to a VeloStudio or use the winter time to get accredited on the velodrome.
3. Maintain high intensity speed sessions – Often riders choose to opt for ‘getting the miles in’ over winter, keeping the intensity low and increasing volume. Come March, it’s often the same riders that get a huge shock to the system when they hit early season races. Maintaining speed work and high intensity sessions during winter continues to benefit short term muscular endurance, working alongside base fitness. It’s also more fun than churning out monotonous mile after monotonous mile. If you can’t get out on the road, why not use the velodrome track at Lee Valley VeloPark. Once accredited, the Powerfitness and RaceReady sessions are perfect for getting fitter, faster and stronger over the winter.
4. Try off Road Riding – If the very thought of riding a stationary bike or turbo fills you with dread and the roads are just too icy to get out, you could always try off road riding during the winter. Riding a mountain bike can provide a fun variation and on the right terrain you can ride on the ice and snow (they will still slip on tarmac!). Lee Valley mountain bike trails are open all year round in daylight hours. Do bear in mind that snow can often hide many technical features and rocks, so keep your MTB rides to non-technical terrain and enjoy.
5. Wear the right kit – As the saying goes – ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing choices’. Check the weather reports regularly, and dress accordingly. Carry a waterproof so you don’t get caught out in the rain, and opt to layer your clothing so you can remove or add layers during the ride. Choose the best clothing you can afford – the investment will be worth it! When it’s really cold, windproof and insulating materials are the way to go. Aim to cover all exposed skin below 17 degrees Celsius. Don’t be that rider in shorts in December when it’s 3 degrees!
6. Stay fuelled for your rides – In colder weather it’s often easy to neglect drinking enough fluids or eating enough food during your rides. Along with this, sometimes thick gloves can make it difficult to reach into jersey pockets for food and before you know it you’re blowing up on that next big climb and seeing stars for the rest of the ride. It’s just as important to keep topped up with fluids in the winter as you continue to sweat in colder weather, so those fluids need replacing. Starting rides with warm drinks in your bottles helps encourage drinking, and preparing food in small bitesize pieces to put in pockets helps with eating on the move. It’s also a good idea to open up the packets on your energy bars before rides so they’re easy to access. If your ride isn’t complete without a café stop, why not come along to Café 42degrees for a coffee mid ride, or use it as a finish location at the end of your ride. If you’re new to riding and fuelling on the move is challenging, try practising one handed riding in one of our skills sessions or during pay and ride on our traffic free road circuit.
7. Light up – It goes without saying that lights are an essential piece of kit which enables riders to highlight their presence to other road users. In winter, this is arguably more important as the days are shorter and the sun is at its weakest. Small, light and rechargeable LED lights are perfect for those dark, winter nights and can be commonly found at most cycling and sportswear shops – just remember to keep them charged!
8. Stop splatter – There’s nothing worse than cycling through town and country when it’s wet and windy – the spray and mud kicked up can completely soak you and coat you in dirt making the rest of the ride highly unenjoyable. That’s why mudguards are a must! They’re easy to fit and will make your riding experience more comfortable, not to mention cutting down on your bike washing and maintenance time.
For more information on the different cycling sessions available at Lee Valley VeloPark, go to: visitleevalley.org.uk/cycling
Photo attributed to Michele Vascellari used under Creative Commons Licence.