Winter Mountain Biking…. Making it work for you. Top Tips.
Well the end of January is in sight, the first month of the year and I think most of you will agree, it’s bloody cold out there, the trails are wet and in some places the white stuff has arrived. Some of you will be well into your winter training plan and smashing those goals.
On the other hand, there will be some of you out there that are feeling as guilty as hell because you know you should be out riding your bike, but you lack motivation and can’t muster up the enthusiasm. You’re beating yourself up for not spending enough time on the bike, your winter training isn’t going to plan, you have the winter blues and you just don’t feel like riding at all
So, what do you need to do to beat those winter blues and get out on the bike?
Here are a few pointers that may help to get you out on the bike over the winter months.
1. Arrange a ride with friends locally or a trip further afield. Committing to a ride with friends makes it hard to back out particularly if you’re car sharing, make it fun, make it sociable. Meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Get connecting on social media.
2. Have a positive mindset, avoid pre-ride negative thinking. Its so easy to back out from a ride and not step a foot over the front door by talking yourself out of it. We’ve all probably done this at some point and come up with the same bullshit excuses… it’s too cold, too wet, I’ve got a mechanical, I can’t get a lift, I can’t find my waterproof, I don’t want to fall off. If you really wanted to ride your bike, you’ll find a way.
3. Think about the positives of being out on the bike, such as developing your skills riding in the wet and mud, having fun, building your fitness, one step closer to achieving your goal, riding with mates you’ve not seen in ages….. oh, and the banter. Make sure its plentiful, get on that banter bus and laugh a lot! Laughter gives you a warm glow and generates heat. I’m sure there’s evidence somewhere to support this.
4. Ask yourself …. Do I have a goal that I am working towards? Do I want to achieve that goal? What do I need to do? It’s generally easier to get out on the bike if you have something to achieve in the short, medium and long term, have a clear end in mind.
If you’re not working towards something then think about setting something to achieve, it could be booking on to a race, it might be a certain distance you want to achieve, a particular feature on a trail you want nail or a segment on Strava. Goals are great for progression. Whatever you decide then make sure its specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and within a time frame. More to come on SMART goal setting, so keep your eyes peeled.
5. Book on to an uplift. This is something you commit to financially so you’re less likely to back out on the day unless you want to be out of pocket. Some will say that you’ll not get the benefits of improving your fitness when pedalling up but you do get the benefits of time on the bike, developing skills and having a laugh with your mates. Usually there’s a decent café there too.
6. Keep warm. The best way to keep warm is to keep moving on the bike, this is easy if you’re on your own but not so easy if you’re riding with others who may ride at a slower pace. You will feel the cold if you are hanging around, if that’s the case take the opportunity to brush up on your skills. Yep that’s right, bunny hops, front wheel lifts, wheelies, manuals, this will certainly generate some warmth in the body while waiting.
7. Carefully plan your route, taking in regular stop offs for a warm, plan it around an awesome café or pub to warm up during or after the ride. If you don’t have any café stop off’s, then take a flask with a warm drink so you can demolish after your ride. You’ll need it after you strip off in the carpark getting into dry clothes. Yeah, we all do it or is that just the people I know.
8. Dress for the occasion. It’s a balance of layering up but not too many so you lose agility on the bike. Put it this way, your riding attire can make or break a ride, it can determine your mood and outcome of the ride if you become wet and cold early on. Oh, and god forbid you’re hungry too….. the worst combination for me. It just makes me miserable. There are some great videos on YouTube with tips for layering up.
9. Fuel up throughout your ride. Your body will be working hard to keep warm which burns those calories. If you’re like me and have a great friend who bakes amazing cakes then you’re on to winner. If there’s nowhere to stop off during the ride then take plenty trail side snacks and eat at regularly intervals throughout the ride, usually every hour.
10. Finally, ….. Remind yourself how great that shower or bath feels when you home.
Janine Wolstenholme – Founder of Zania Womens MTB Wear and Mindful Mountain Biker