Top Tips for Training in Winter
With the cold weather setting in, getting out on the bike may seem more difficult than normal. With conditions being colder and wetter there are several things you can do to make sure that you’re safe and getting the most out of your winter rides. Check out some handy tips for cycling in cold weather from our product manager ex-pro, Oli Cole.
There are lots of changes you can make coming into the winter months to improve your training. Adjusting your tyre pressure can be extremely helpful in the winter months. It has been proven that riding a slightly wider tyre 28mm at 80-100 psi is the most efficient. Wider tyres mean a better grip on the road which provides more confidence in the wet and cold. Plus, it will also be much comfier for you to ride with a slightly wider tyre.
The winter conditions can be tough on bikes so consider using a lower maintenance bike throughout the cold season, this can make life a lot easier and save you money. Even world tour pros use winter bikes when they are training during the winter.
Lots of riding groups tend to have a café stop halfway through their route. Especially in the winter, this is the worst thing you can do for your muscles. Muscles are warm whilst being used so stopping mid-way through the ride to rest means that they get cold quickly. This makes getting back on the bike to ride home a shock to the system as there was never a warmup or cool down period which leaves a lot of lactic acid sitting in your legs. An easy solution to this is doing your full ride first and leaving the café stop until the end.
Wear the Right Gear
Make sure to dress correctly for the weather. Keeping muscles warm is important because it aids blood flow, helps to prevent injuries and makes you faster as the muscles can work as they are supposed to. A good general measure for clothing is that legs and arms should be covered up to 16-18 degrees and even in the winter most pros stay covered up in the early 20’s. Using thermal base layers are a must, they keep the cool air off your chest and maintain your body heat. It’s better to have too much kit and take some off than not enough and not being able to do anything about it. Remember that being over dressed in the winter is pro!
Mud guards are must for the winter! They keep the dirt and sludge from the road off your bike and protect it from flicking up at you which means you can stay warmer and drier. Plus, the other people in your group will thank you as mud guards also protect the rider behind you from mud splatters. Mud guards also make cleaning your bike far easier as it means lower maintenance.
Keep those toes warm
Cycling shoes are made to be breathable not waterproof so your feet can get cold easily in the winter. If you struggle to keep your feet warm on very cold days, then try wrapping your toes in kitchen foil once you have put socks on. It might sound strange, but this is a great hack that helps to keep the heat in whilst keeping the water out.
During winter, try to focus on training to your power zones rather than your heart rate. Extreme weather raises your heart rate, therefore, if this is something you usually monitor while cycling the results will not properly reflect your fitness. Cold temperatures cause your heart rate to increase as your heart needs to work harder to pump blood around the body and keep you warm. Many endurance riders think that time on the bike is what makes base, however, it is the training zones that help more. Cycling consistently in zone 2 over a few hours gives your body a greater tolerance to lactic acid build-up. So remember to knock it back on climbs and push on the downhill to keep your heart rate up.
Stay Hydrated and Energised
It is easy to forget to stay hydrated in the winter when it’s cold and wet. Make sure you drink water regularly throughout your ride as staying hydrated will replenish fluids lost during exercise. Another way to make sure you are performing at your best is to use energy mix in your bottles when you ride as a way of fuelling your training and giving you that boost of energy that you need on cold days.
Try these tips out and stay at peak fitness for the spring cycling season! If you’re looking for a spring event click here and check out some our sportives.