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Outside is currently cold, wet and dirty. Already there are icy patches on the road and the salt applied to keep you from slipping is a bike killer. To be honest, this is enough to give up cycling for a month, or maybe three.
But there is a downside. When you stop taking your weekly rides, you’ll start feeling less happy. And after a few weeks, a little less cheerful, which easily spirals towards being moody, then unmotivated, and finally it might lead to a Winter depression. It’s not uncommon.
Why does this happen? Well, we all cycle for more than one reason. The most common is probably to clear the head, so you can feel free and return home a little less troubled and more relaxed. So I guess the title of this piece is quickly answered, Don’t hibernate! And because I know it’s hard to say ‘no’ to cocooning, I collected eight tips to help you get out there and stay the happy healthy cyclist you like being.
1. Buy yourself a good Winter kit
I used to detest camping. And Winter. And most of all, camping in wet & wintry conditions. What does that have to do with cycling you ask? Well my camping experience changed completely once I got the right gear. I found that as long as you stay warm and dry, you can handle anything. And you can indeed stay warm and dry on your bike, even when temperatures drop below 10 degrees. Some of the Winter cycling stuff I love:
Etxeondo Artuna: Etxeondo makes very smart Winter gear that will keep wind and cold out. The Altura (pink jersey above) is a warm wind stopper with fabulous fit. Or kit yourself with Isadores merino wool base layers, 100% warm and comfortable.
2. Take on a challenge
This is an especially good tip for competitive cyclists. Your challenge can be as simple as cycling at least 50k’s a week or once every weekend. You can also challenge yourself to ride at least 4 times a month, or make a deal that you will cycle somewhere you’ve never been, every weekend. To make it more fun, give yourself a new challenge every week. Check Strongher on Facebook for good ideas.
3. Cycle together
It’s a simple as that. When you’ve agreed on going out for a ride, and promised to be ready at a certain time, there’s a pretty good chance you will be. So fix yourself up with a weekly cycle date.
4. Shorten Your Rides
Going out there for a short time is much better than not going at all. Plus you really don’t need to cycle for hours to feel satisfied. An hour on your bike will do the trick just fine. So when daylight is sparse and temperatures are low, a short ride is a good solution.
5. Remind yourself how good you’ll feel after
Always works for me. Think about how satisfied you’ll be with yourself by overcoming your dreary state and going out there against all odds. Think about the colour coming back to your cheeks, the Strava records, the kudo’s and the hot chocolate you so deserved. You’re badass, a winner, you ride all weather!
6. New bike accessories
If the above will do the trick, you should buy new stuff for your bike. It could be a new saddle, new cycling shoes, a cap, a bib, or even new handlebar tape. As long as it’s something you can admire while riding, it can put that extra spark into your eyes, the bounce in your step, and will motivate you to go for a cycle to try out your new purchase.
7. Create new routes
This tip is similar to the one above, only it doesn’t cost anything. It can be combined with tip number 4: Shorten your ride.
8. Set a (training) goal
This last tip is no quick fix. The idea is to give yourself a reason to keep cycling all through Winter, because you need to be fit in Spring. The reason can be a race, a big ride or another cycle adventure you have signed up for. So the first step is finding your Winter cycling objective.
I have a few ideas: The Ride, a crazy 8 day, 1300k organized ride that will take you from the Stelvio to the Cauberg or an adventure with the guys from Sommet Cycling (they offer custom trips around Girona, in the Provence & Dolomites), and how about the Haute Route Alps or Pyrenees?
With one of these great cycling goals in mind, you can’t talk yourself out of going for a ride. Maybe that’s the best tip of all. Don’t kid yourself, you know you love cycling.