You have trained hard all summer and finally feel that your fitness levels are where you want them to be. You feel strong and on top of your game and no matter the weather, you have every intention of keeping up your cycling training in winter.
Then the days become shorter, the rain makes an ubiquitous appearance and the cold starts to set in. Suddenly your motivation begins to fade. Maybe you will only go out… once a week. Everytime you look outside the window and are met with nothing but grey skies, you impulsively reach for your hypoallergenic duvet… But, deep down inside, you know that if the pull of the duvet gets the better of you, you will practically be starting your training from scratch come spring. And remember, the view from the back of the pack is not a good one. Understanding that the struggle is real, we have compiled a list of top tips for winter cycling in Europe, based on this article by Team Sky to make your winter training, just a little more bearable:
Don’t let the weather take you off course
Judging by the nature of this article, it should make perfect sense that Team Sky’s top tip for winter training in Europe is to not let the weather rain on your training parade. For the most part, that initial push out the door is a challenge, but once you are cycling you will barely notice the cold and the rain. Don’t overthink it and just do it — it will be well worth the effort.
Kit up properly
While it’s strongly encouraged not to let the weather get you down, cycling in Europe in winter is no joke and you certainly need to be wearing the right gear to keep you warm and dry, while allowing you enough movement to cycle properly. Spending money on proper winter cycling gear is definitely going to pay off in the long term, and you can view it as an investment in your cycling career (as well as your health!). The article recommends a good rain jacket and a pair of excellent gloves.
Leave your pride and joy at home
While cycling in Europe during winter, it would be a massive faux pas to take out your most expensive bike. Rod Ellingworth, the head of performance operations at Team Sky, suggests having “...a different, heavier, proper winter bike with thicker tyres. All those things can be of benefit, increasing the resistance.” He does however urge cyclists to clean their bikes thoroughly after using them, regardless of how old they are, or how cold and tired you may be after the ride. Get inside and clean it properly and quickly because according to Ellingworth, “If you leave it overnight, it’s not good.”
There is such a thing as ‘overkill’ in training
The article suggests that people have a tendency to overdo their winter training. They spend all week at work and push themselves far too far over the weekend — this is counter-productive. You have to find the balance. Ellingworth suggests that you “Aim to do two to three hour rides on the weekend and top up during the week.” He states that “It's much better to do regular rides but always think you can do more. You are a battery and at this time of year you are trying to recharge.” He also suggests keeping up all-round fitness by including other means of exercise into your training regime, but make sure that cycling is the priority. Ellingworth has a point when he says “You can’t do 70 per cent running and 30 per cent cycling and be a good cyclist.”
Make a ‘thing’ of it
See which of your cycling enthusiast buddies are also keen on keeping up their cycling fitness while beating the winter blues. This will help with motivation — even if it’s driven by not wanting to fall behind in training, or even by the thought of letting someone down — and it will encourage more of a social atmosphere. The article also suggests leaving the energy bars and gel sachets at home and that you “Pack away all the serious muck, at this time of year it is much better to stop for sausage sarnies and celebrate at the end with a Sunday roast and a couple of pints.” Doing this in a group is both more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Enjoy the ride
Like most things in life, if you are cycling in winter and not enjoying it, even a little bit, then it’s pretty pointless. Life’s too short not to do things that you actually enjoy. Savour the time to yourself, let yourself switch off the daily ‘monkey chatter’ and just enjoy the ride. Seeing winter cycling training as something you actually quite enjoy will also help motivate you to get on the bike the next time the heavens open just as you kit up.
Still not convinced that winter cycling in Europe is for you, but anxious to maintain your summer cycling fitness levels? There is another option: skip winter altogether in parts of Europe that see more sunshine than rain.Costa Blanca sees approximately 325 sunny days and with mild winters, incredible food, and awe-inspiring routes, it’s the perfect winter training ground. Contact us for more information about our wonderful resorts in Costa Blanca. With extensive knowledge of the area, and staff who are always willing to go above and beyond, we can assist you with all of your winter training needs.