With temperatures plummeting, days shortening, and opportunities to ride reducing concomitantly, many amateur riders will be wondering how to remain a cyclist through winter.
While maintaining a riding schedule in such inhospitable conditions is far from impossible, many will be seeking to supplement time in the saddle with conditioning exercises to improve core strength, and turning to other disciplines, such as cyclo-cross.
Professional cyclists in the UK face the same weather as the rest of us, and with bigger goals to tackle next season, face the bigger challenge of maintaining a bigger workload when the weather’s bad.
We caught up with Jon Mould for the latest of our Training With The Pros series. The 22-year-old is yet another of the rising stars of Welsh cycling, with national madison and omnium titles won on the track and a round of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series on the road to show for his efforts this year.
While amateurs will have wound down significantly this far into the off-season, Mould is mixing thrice-weekly track sessions on days begun with a short road ride, with long rides on both days of the weekend. Mondays and Fridays are reserved for easier rides when Mould will ride out to cafes “or not bother if it’s crap weather!”
I think the track is accessible for amateurs – there are track leagues in both Newport and Manchester, where I ride, and there are SQT [structured, quality training] sessions and evening sessions available
Unlike other riders interviewed for this series, notably Ryan Mullen, Mould does not spend significant periods in the gym. “I did it two years ago, but I’ve stepped away from it now and just concentrate on the bike side,” Mould told RCUK. “It makes things a bit simpler.”
The training aspect shared by Mould and Mullen, however, and for that matter, by Ben Swift, is the use of the track to supplement road work. For Mould, preparing to represent Wales at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, time on the track serves a more important purpose than merely providing an opportunity to turn the legs when the weather’s bad, but he believes the amateur rider is well-served with opportunities to ride the boards.
“I think the track is accessible for amateurs – there are track leagues in both Newport and Manchester, where I ride, and there are SQT [structured, quality training] sessions and evening sessions available.
“I think it’s quite easy if you look for it. When I was a junior I always found it easy to get on the track. I did the Tuesday track league and the Thursday night SQT. It’s nice to get on the road in the morning and then take advantage of the time you have in the evening.”
Mould’s training, on-road and off, was once supervised by arguably the most sophisticated and successful in the sport: British Cycling’s Academy. The 22-year-old followed a veritable who’s who of world cycling stars through the doors of the Manchester velodrome and says that much of what he does now was learned from his time there.
The riding on the track is still pretty much what I did at the Academy, it’s just a little more relaxed – not in terms of effort, but there’s not as many impressions to make
“The riding on the track is still pretty much what I did there, it’s just a little more relaxed – not in terms of effort, but there’s not as many impressions to make. I’m still doing the same things though really, just on my own terms. It’s just been implanted in me.”
Like many of his Team GB colleagues, Mould combines a career on the road with track competitions. Having won in Colchester this season in the colours of Team UK Youth, he will race next year for new team, NTFO, following the demise of the former. Like others in this series, and increasing numbers of amateurs, Mould is bound for foreign shores to maintain his road training.
“I’m also going away to Mallorca next week for a big block on the road so that will be nice to just get a solid block in before I go to Mexico for the Track World Cup,” he said. “But I think even if you do everything on the track, you will get a good, solid base for the road. It’s just a case of doing the switchover then.”