I’ve had a slow start to winter.
Of late I’ve existed on a diet of cyclo-cross and commuting, but moving house, illness and, well, a lack of motivation to ride in the wind and rain after a long, busy summer have all contributed to the recent lack of road miles.
But I’ve settled in at the former, am back to full fitness after my first (and who knows, last?) cold of the winter, and the hunger is back after kick-starting the winter season over the weekend. After all, I’ve got new roads to explore and now have the Chiltern Hills within a few miles riding.
November signals the start of the winter training season. Professional riders, some of whom will have finished the 2013 season-ending Tour of Beijing less than three weeks ago will wake from their off-season slumber to get back on the bike, and it’s no different for the rest of us.
I’ve set myself four main goals for the winter to give my riding focus. I will ride eight hours a week, take to the start line in four of the Imperial Winter Series crits at Hillingdon and ride three local reliability trials. I will also join a new club, but that’s more a product of moving from one side of London to the other, while, chances are, I’ll also have a training plan to follow having volunteered as a guinea pig to try Wilier’s Performance Progress Lab.
They’re modest goals (the Imperial Winter Series has 11 dates from December to February) but tangible targets. Most coaches will advise you to set measurable goals: so, instead of ‘I want to start racing’, it’s ‘I will ride four winter crits at Hillingdon’, and rather than ‘I want to ride more’, it’s ‘I will spend eight hours a week on the bike’. A maiden voyage yesterday on the aptly-named De Rosa Milanino Training under a blue sky on a beautiful, if windy, autumn’s day brought the total for ‘winter training week one’ to nine hours.
I’ve also set myself a technical goal, although this is less tangible. I want to become a better descender. I’m not an awful descender, but I’m not too proud to say a couple of crashes have knocked my confidence this year when the road points downhill on steep, technical sections.
Half the battle when descending is confidence but I believe that by going back to basics and revisiting my technique over winter will stand me in good stead for the mountain descents that will inevitably follow next spring and summer. There is no better time than winter, when the focus on putting the building blocks in place for 2014, to work on your technique, whether that’s descending, group riding, cadence or climbing.
Of course, it’s easy to set goals in early November, with a full winter to come, but they’re now in place, written down, for the world (well, you, at least) to see. They’re my goals, what are yours?