The long cold dark nights may be stopping you from getting as much quality saddle time as you would like these days. However, there are some ways of keeping your fitness up over the winter months so that you will be setting a personal best at the Ring of Beara Cycle Kenmare next year.
Focus on your goal
Even if your goal is to beat your previous time at the Ring of Beara or to compete for the long-distance route for the first time. Setting it as a clear goal is very important. Write down what your goal is and why you want to complete it. Whenever you feel unsure why your cycling in this cold weather, look back at your goal and this will provide you with motivation to keep going – even if it’s to manage to get up those hills in Allihies without getting off the bike!
Keep it short
It is typical for many cyclists during the winter months to go out for long steady cycles to build up endurance. While this is a huge benefit, it can be difficult to firstly find the time and the motivation for a 3 or 4-hour cycle in this winter weather, especially with long dark nights. What you can do is short cycles. So instead of one long spin at the weekend, instead try three one-hour cycles during the week if possible. Keep these spins more intense and faster. Include some sprints to signs or lamposts, while they’re not fun, they will make a huge difference by the time the sportive season kicks off. If you’re on Strava check out the segments on your cycle route and try to move up that leader board or beat your last time.
Don’t let the dirt build up
Keep your bike and gear clean. With the road conditions worsening with the winter, your bike and gear will be covered in mud and road grime. Try to form a habit of cleaning your bike fully when you arrive home, make it your first job. It will firstly keep it running smoothly when your gears are clean. It will also make spotting wear on components easier, so you can change a part before it gives up in the middle of a spin. Finally, a clean bike is a better-looking bike, and hopefully gives you the motivation to go on the next cycle and get it muddy again.
Get yourself limber again. Stretching before and after spins will make a difference in your feelings on the bike and help to prevent injuries such as hamstring strains and lower back pains.
If you can get yourself to a yoga class too, this is even better. Your local cycling club may be running these for members too. There is the benefit of stretches and poses, it will improve your core strength which will help you keep a better form on your bike.
With the range of interactive indoor cycling apps available now (Sufferfest, Zwift etc) and smart turbo trainers indoor training can be fun and an opportunity to get some quality training based on pace and heart rate. It is also the perfect time to catch up on your favourite Netflix programme while on the bike.
Many gyms offer structured spin classes that are fun and run by an expert trainer. It keeps the cycle fitness ticking over. Check out spinstreet.ie for more information.
Keep cross training fun
We all (or most of us) ride our bikes for fun but if you are looking to do some cross-training for the sportive season try to make that fun too. Join a local sports group or team. Try a new sport, swimming is brilliant for building cardio fitness and at least the water is warmer than outside!
These are just a few small tips to keep you going through the rest of winter and you will be smashing your goals next season and at the Ring of Beara Cycle Kenmare.