Planning is the name of the game sometimes.

As long-suffering as partners can be with cycling activity, winter is a difficult season. Rides of sufficient mileage to build base fitness can take a whole day; certainly half-a-day. Time is always in short supply and the minutiae of domestic chores can get in the way: DIY, garage clear outs, dog walks, children, relatives.

Finding time at the edges of days is often the best answer: early morning rides, post children’s bed time turbo training, taking the long route to work.

I’m one of those people who finds riding a perfect time to think clearly about other things; solving work problems while pedaling by “talking them through” internally. But the run up to Christmas is especially tricky: lots of people to see, Christmas parties to go to, weekends easily filled with non-riding activities. Planning is everything.

A diary date looms large: old university friends want to gather in Winchester for a pre-Christmas knees up, dog walk and country stroll. Sounds great, but bikes need to be ridden, kit needs to be tested, mileage must be accrued beneath the wheels and stored in the legs. A phone call later and I’m good to go. Can I turn up in cycling kit, have a hot shower and be ready to walk at 10am? No problem, is the answer. So if I rise at daybreak or 6.30ish, I can reach our ancient capital for 9.30am, have a shower and be ready to stroll for 10am.

With an itinerary in place, route planning can begin. Garmin Connect is a handy way of plotting my course across unfamiliar land. While this has sent me down a few gravel roads, it is generally a fail safe method of exploring new territory without local knowledge. A country road jaunt through new terrain will be great, and will add to my repertoire of relatively local routes. Naturally, if I can get there in three hours, there is the chance, on a free winter day, of a six-hour, out and back loop. All I need to do is find a good local Winchester coffee shop while I’m there.

Finding time is sometimes difficult, but with planning, and some coordination, you can get in your winter mileage without too much compromise. It is also all too easy to start skipping outdoor rides in the winter. I did last night. The Test Rig was in the loft, mudguards on (rather like wearing wellies indoors), and plugged into the BKool turbo trainer (more of which next week).

All other test bikes were without ‘guards due to their racy geometry (soon to be rectified with the attachment of a pair of Raceblades MkII). Sleet was falling, and the wind was howling. It was too easy to skip the regular ride with the Thursday night chain gang. Instead, I retreated to the loft, and suffered through an hour of penance for being a wimp.

I need the outdoors. Heck, I’ve got the kit to put on and to plug away in. So apologies dear reader; I am making amends on Sunday and fitting in a ride to time that wouldn’t have existed without planning.

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