How To Get The Most Out Of Winter
Ah, winter. Us Brits don’t half love to moan about it. Each and every year we all begin grumbling about cold and dark, as if it’s a new and unexpected phenomenon. It seems like every time this season comes around, we all start wishing it was over, and longing for those warm summer days. But I think it’s a shame to wish your life away when winter happens every twelve months.
These days, I prefer to just bloody get on with it and embrace all that’s good about the season. I’ve trained myself to stop buying endless pairs of tiny denim shorts for the six weeks of sunshine we (might) get in August, and instead stockpile base layers, blankets and wood for the fire. And now I’ve stopped fighting it, I’ve come to enjoy the rhythms of the year and all that winter brings. It’s a time to slow down, to treat and comfort yourself and enjoy wrapping up warm.
So how to get the most out of winter? Here are my tips:
- Try riding a turbo trainer. It sucks so much that anything else will seem great in comparison.
- Ride a velodrome. Easier said than done as there aren’t velodromes everywhere, but take it from me, it’s worth it. I made a six hour round trip yesterday just to check.
- Get really, really muddy. And laugh about it. Don’t you remember being young and carefree, making mud pies and rolling around in the dirt? It’s still fun, believe me.
- Winter proof your bike. This could be fitting a set of mudguards, switching to cheaper wheels, or just taking plenty of time to clean your bike and grease the chain after you’ve ridden. Don’t forget to clean rims and break blocks. If you have the option of doing so, get hold of a sturdy steel frame and put your oldest parts on it.
- Keep your feet warm. If you’re going for a brisk ride, it helps to set off feeling slightly cold in the body as you’ll warm up. But fingers and toes actually get colder as the ride goes on, so prioritise to keeping your extremities warm. I’ve used neoprene overboots, Lake winter cycling shoes, waterproof Sealskinz socks, and even plastic bags to keep my feet dry in the past. Sometimes your feet are just gonna get wet though.
- Hone your skills. Riding really slippery, muddy terrain or wet roads makes you a better cyclist which you’ll appreciate later in the year. Try riding places you wouldn’t normally, or a try a different kind of bike. Get creative!
- Don’t worry about how you look. I always think that the fact I’m leaving the house in crappy weather is good enough. I don’t need to look stylish whilst doing it. If I’m comfortable, I’m happy.
- Join a spinning class. Only marginally better than the turbo trainer, so just do it if you’re desperate. The actual class is normally horrid but I normally feel pretty good afterwards.
- Just do it. It’s better to just get out and ride rather than wait for the weather to improve. I never regret having ridden, but I often regret not having done so. Sometimes I like to frame the question like this: ‘Will I be happy that I’ve ridden once I’ve done it?’ rather than ‘Do I want to do this?’
- Get into making cakes, or at the very least make sure you’ve got some nice food to eat when you get back from a ride. The thought of cosying up with a plate of scones and a pot of tea can get you through some of the colder moments where you begin questioning your sanity.
- And finally, do it because you love cycling. I bet if you were told you weren’t allowed to ride all winter or you got injured, you’d be really annoyed and would really want to ride. So just remember how lucky you are that you can.