Spring. It has to be our favourite time of year; nothing beats setting off on a crisp spring morning, spending a few hours pootling along country lanes with the warm sun on your back, then getting home in time to watch Eurosport’s Classics coverage.
If every day was like that we’d be very, very fit. Unfortunately, work commitments, and more often than not bad weather, generally conspire to prevent us from riding as much as we’d like. If you’re in the same boat, here are our tips for increasing your time on the bike over the coming months.
1) Get up early:
We haven’t actually checked this yet but we’ve been reliably informed by the postie that it’s now getting light at around 6am. If you’d normally get up at 7am, how about getting up an hour early for a pre-breakfast ride? Riding before breakfast is a great way of burning fat and of feeling superior to your colleagues when you get to work.
2) Enter some events:
|What are you aiming for this summer? Having something to target makes getting out on days when you’d otherwise stay at home a lot easier. If you’re racing and you haven’t already planned them out, set out all the races you’re riding on a calendar, highlighting the ones you’re particularly looking to do well in. If you’re not racing, there’s still no reason not to participate in some events, be that the Etape du Tour, a local time-trial or the London to Brighton bike ride.|
3) Keep it realistic:
There’s nothing that saps your energy faster than trying to keep up with an unrealistic target. And if you have laid off the training over the winter then rushing headlong into a challenging schedule is more likely to result in injury too. Build your fitness blocks up gradually, adding training time each week. You’re more likely to stick with a realistic training plan so use those events you’ve entered as something to work up to. If you do find that you fall off the training wagon one week then put it behind you and concentrate on the next.|
4) Book a holiday:
| It’s easy to get bored of riding the same routes week in week out, so how about taking a few days off to go riding in a different area of this country or Europe. Not only will you get out riding more while you’re looking forward to your holiday, you’ll get some good riding in while you’re away and when you get back you’ll be keen to test your increased fitness on those same old routes you went on holiday to avoid.|
5) Go mountain biking:
|As we mentioned above, riding on the same roads all the time can get boring; if you can’t take a holiday, why not replace some of your road rides with MTB rides. Riding long-forgotten trails and discovering some new ones is a great way to rekindle your desire to ride your bike.|
6) Buy some new kit:
| Obviously we’re not going to encourage you to spend money on any old thing, but we do all know that you end up training more on new kit because it just begs to be ridden. Our new method when it comes to upgrading is to set ourselves a target before we let ourselves spend any money – e.g. got to get a top three placing in a road race before we can buy new wheels, ride another 1,000 miles before we replace our tyres or ride our hilly 40 route in under two hours before we buy any more clothes.|
7) Ride with a group:
|If you don’t normally ride in a group, spring’s a great time to find some other riders to train with. In most areas there will be a group that goes out at weekends for a long ride and a chaingang that goes out midweek once the clocks have gone forward. You can find out about groups in your area either through the forums or by asking at your local bike shop.||It’s not often that you’ll hear us advocating sitting on your bum in front of the TV, but if you’re about on a Sunday afternoon over the coming few weeks, you could do a lot worse than turning over from the Eastenders omnibus and putting on Eurosport. Between now and the end of April they’ll be showing all the classics such as Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Flanders. If you’re in need of some inspiration, seeing the pros doing battle on the pavé after six hours of racing is about as inspiring as it gets.
9) Take a break:
| If you’ve been training hard all winter and you’re finding it hard to keep your motivation up, don’t be afraid to take a break from cycling for a few days. A break might be just what you need.
And that’s just for starters, we’re sure RoadcyclingUK members will have other ways and means of getting themselves out riding and shaking off winter woes and we’re keen to hear all of them in the forum, so pitch in and add your ideas to the mix.