Motivate Yourself For Winter!
With the cold weather just around the corner, you might feel like putting the bike away and reverting to the car or public transport to get around but in reality, you shouldn’t let the weather get in the way of your usual cycling regime. Sure, riding in the winter is different to riding in the summer but let’s be honest, the worst days of summer really aren’t that different from the average winter weather that we suffer here in the UK, are they? Of course, the wind nips a little bit harder, the rain falls a little bit heavier and your teeth might chatter every now and again but don’t worry – with the right amount of planning, some tactical motivation and a ‘can do’ attitude, you can ride through the cold weather in comfort, without having to sit in a car and miss all the fun!
This is a list of suggestions rather than a ‘must do’ checklist but if you take a couple of the ideas on board, you’ll be able to ride out the winter in style. Some are obvious but some might push you out of your comfort zone – read on and find out what we have to offer!
Let’s kick off with the obvious requirement: appropriate attire. If it’s going to get cold, dress in warm clothes; if it’s going to get wet, wear waterproof clothes – simple as. Or not quite. Cycling does require specialist clothing if you want to prevent chafing and discomfort but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your hands on insulated cycling gear; it might look thin but it’ll keep you warm. The same goes for rain gear, you’ll get what you pay for; specialist cycling attire comes with a cheaper price tag than your fuel bill for a car. Buy some new gear and get out on the road to test it; surely that’s motivation enough?
Prepare Your Strategy
Cycling in challenging conditions is a little bit more time consuming than it is in milder climates and you’ll probably want to wake up a little bit earlier and get on the road earlier if you want to get to work or any other destination on time. If you can streamline your mornings to work to your advantage then you’ll already feel more motivated to cycle. If you’ve got your gear prepared the night before, there should be nothing stopping you the next morning. Leave your bike by the door, that way you’ll be forced to use it; you’ll feel bad if you just walk past it on your way to the car, won’t you?
Upgrade Your Wheels
Lights are obviously going to be an important factor in the winter months but sticking a new set of lights isn’t really enough to motivate you to ride, is it? Many cyclists have a second bike, one that’s used specifically in the winter months that’s already equipped with the right tyres, mud guards and gadgets that make the experience more pleasurable. If you’ve got a second bike but haven’t converted into your winter ride yet, go and do it now. There are hundreds of guides online about doing this (we’ve covered it here) so you shouldn’t have any difficulty; as soon as you’ve got your wheels prepped for the winter you’ll be aching to see if your modifications work or not. That’s motivation right there!
Set Yourself Goals
It’s very difficult to find the motivation to do anything without having a goal in mind, so if you’re in need of motivation this winter: set yourself a goal. This can be as simple as setting yourself a health related challenge, which is one of the most obvious goals, or you could branch out and think of something more interesting. Perhaps you want to build your stamina for an upcoming cycling event? Maybe you want to commute by bicycle every day to save money? For the latter, you could add up the cost of travelling by car or public transport, weigh it up against the cost of travelling by push bike and put the balance towards buying something that you’ve always wanted. Find an achievable goal and the motivation will follow.
Change Your Route
Whether you’re cycling for fitness, for money or to save the planet, no matter how noble your cause is if you repeat the same route over and over again, it will get boring and lose it’s appeal. Luckily, detailed and accurate maps of everywhere exist and usually they’re only a click of a mouse or the touch of a screen away and finding a different way to the same destination has never been easier. Try changing your route as often as possible to keep your mind sharp and to keep yourself interested in cycling. If you’re not pushed for time, leave the map behind and try your hand at some old fashioned exploring; you probably won’t feel as intrepid as you did on your first solo bike ride as a child but it’ll be the closest thing possible. Give it a try – it’ll be fun!
Make It Fun
While we’re on the subject of ‘fun’, you can really enhance your ride by teaming up with a friend or a group of them. Riding with company is particularly good fun and a great source of motivation; even in the worst of weathers, you’ll feel motivated to ride because you don’t want to let your friend down. If you can all help each other reach their separate goals, then it will be a great team building exercise too. Team up with your friends or co-workers and try to get them involved.
Hit The Gym
If you want to improve your overall cycling fitness, sometimes you have to get off of your bike and into the gym. The winter is a great opportunity to focus on other aspects of your overall fitness by forcing you indoors. A professional cyclist will undertake a balanced training regime that focuses on weight training as well as cardiovascular training, so if you’ve spent the summer pedaling like mad, use the winter to bring some balance into your fitness. It doesn’t mean that you should forget cycling altogether; after a gym session, you should be desperate to test and maintain your new fitness levels by getting back on the bike.
If one of your goals has been to train for an event, you can use the winter to sign up for some track riding lessons; beginner classes are pretty cheap and you can learn some of the pro tricks from experienced trainers. Learn a bit of that and you’ll be chomping at the bit to show off your new found skills with your friends.
Mix It Up
No matter how much motivation you have, there are some days when you just won’t feel like riding and that’s ok, you’re only human after all. We’re not all blessed with short commutes either and if you live far away from your work place the thought of anything over an hour in the cold and wet sounds more like hell than heaven, no matter how much you love cycling; if that’s the case for you, mix up your journeys by using public transport to win half the battle before getting in the saddle. Try this on the days when the weather is particularly bad – you never know, this might be the solution you’ve been looking for if you want to spice up and add intrigue to your regular route.
Don’t Let ‘It’ Bother You
What ‘winter’ means to you will vary greatly depending on where you live in the UK and for the majority of cyclists, it means that it’s only going to be a bit cold and a bit wet – which isn’t much different to the rest of the year anyway so don’t let the weather bring you down and get in the way of your favourite activity. If you do live in the more extreme areas of the UK where the snow falls properly, then cycling is only an advantage to you: if you’re really snowed in and need to get somewhere, the chances are that you’re going to leave the car at home anyway. In those areas, if you don’t have a winter-ready bike and a dose of winter motivation then you’ll probably be left stranded. Let’s call that a ‘win’.
Remind Yourself Why You Cycle
If you’re a regular cyclist, you probably won’t let a bit of weather stand in your way anyway; in fact, you should be exhilarated by it. Cycling can be fast, furious, adventurous and intrepid, so get out and face the elements, no matter what’s raining down upon you. You know as well as we do that you’re going to go out there anyway, so don’t waste another second looking at the sky – get out and go!
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