Ten reasons why we can’t wait for winter - Road Cycling UK

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Ten reasons why we can’t wait for winter

Why we're ready to embrace winter

You might call us crazy, but we can’t wait for the winter to get here.

What do you mean, it’s here already? While the temperature has plummeted across the UK, the meteorological winter doesn’t officially start until December. This is only the beginning.

Whether it’s the challenge of staying on your bike all through the coldest part of the year, or the major advantage that three months of solid training will give you when you hit the spring – there’s a lot to be said for keeping your mileage up when the mercury drops.

Here are ten reasons why we’re embracing winter.

When a winter window of opportunity arrives, there’s little better feeling than heading out for a ride (Pic: Chapeau)

Taking your opportunities

In summer you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to getting a ride in. The days are long enough that you can sneak in a ride pre or post-work, and then you have the weekends too – a seemingly endless tranche of available cycling time.

In fact, there’s so much choice and opportunity that sometimes we can get a little bit spoilt and fail to take the best advantage.

Not so in winter. The amount of sunny, drizzle-free days you’ll get to go riding on are extremely limited, which we think makes us better at seizing the day with both hands.

It only takes a forecast of two or three rainless, windless hours and you’ll be out on your bike, often abandoning work tasks and household chores in favour of those few precious moments in the saddle. And there’s little better than a cold, crisp and clear winter’s day to shine on the soul.

Just remember to switch the iron off before you bolt out the front door to chase that patch of blue sky that just passed overhead.

Getting the roads to yourself

Only the toughest riders go out on their bikes in the depths of winter, which means that a lot of the time you’ll have your training routes to yourself.

Of course, this can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On a good day that means a peaceful and serene training ride, where you really do feel like the only person in the world. On a bad day it means getting two punctures 25 miles from home and having no hope of another cyclists coming by to give you a spare inner tube.

Go out, enjoy the solitude, but make sure you’re carrying enough gear to sort out most mechanical issues that may befall you.

Cold weather and clear roads – winter gives you the chance to escape into the elements (Pic: Altura)

Kits-mass day

Cyclists love kit, that’s just a scientific fact. Whether it’s a big investment like a new set of wheels, or giving yourself the small treat of a new casquette once in a while – new kit feels good, and the more of it the better.

Winter’s a fantastic time for new kit, thanks largely to (hopefully) the avalanche of new gear bestowed on a cyclist by his or her family come Christmas time.

As long as you make sure your folks know what brands you’re into and the sort of cycling you do – no BMX helmets this year please, Gran – then you should be in for a good haul!

Riding through winter can make you feel like a hero of the 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo (Pic: Sirotti)

It feels like you’re riding in the Classics

Putting on your heavyweight winter kit can feel a bit like getting ready for battle. You’re a warrior, a Spartan, putting on your armour, ready to face the marauding hordes.

Or, to put it in a slightly more realistic, cycling context, you feel like a hardened sprinter preparing for Milan-San Remo or one of the mighty Lions of Flanders about to take on the cobblestones.

There’s something inherently satisfying about kitting up and defying the weather Gods, the wind and rain in your face – and who doesn’t enjoy fantasising about being Tom Boonen or Marianne Vos?

The return of the winter bike

If you’re lucky enough to have a winter bike in your life the chances are it’s a firm favourite in your stable. A bike which has become an extension of yourself after many long, hard miles together.

Most likely it was once your main bike, but was relegated when you invested in something swisher for summer racing and riding.

Nevertheless, rather than get rid of it you decided to keep it in the shed – unable to quite let go of all the good times you had together.

That’s why when you do eventually fish it out of the shed, the winter bike is an absolute treat to ride.

It’ll probably need a little bit of TLC to get it roadworthy again after a summer collecting dust, but once you’re out on the roads with it you’ll have a blast.

Your winter bike will become a faithful companion over the months ahead – but you’ll face a battle to keep it this clean (Pic: Factory Media)

Camping trips

If we didn’t have winter, there would be no winter training camps in the likes of Tenerife, Majorca and the Tuscany – and wouldn’t that be the greatest shame of all?

While riding in a British winter has its benefits – it’ll definitely toughen you up – there’s not much that can beat an intensive week-long escape to warmer climes to fully tune-up for the season ahead.

If you need a healthy dose of motivation for winter, book yourself on a warm weather training camp (Pic: Campagnolo)

Squeaky clean

You know what they say, ‘practice makes perfect’. Well a winter spent riding your bike is guaranteed to fine-tune your bike cleaning abilities like nothing else.

You’ll become a practiced hand at de-gunking a chain, stripping down a cassette and generally taking care of your machine. All skills that’ll help you throughout your cycling life.

Bourbon in your bidon!

We opened the discussion of what cyclists love about cycling in winter up on Twitter, and one user replied simply, ‘bourbon in your bidon’.

We didn’t know this was a thing, but apparently it is. If you do indulge in a wee snort while out riding – presumably to fend off the cold or dull your sensations of pain – then we can only ask that you enjoy responsibly.

Want in your bidons? Or something stronger? (Pic: Etixx)

Going back to basics

There’s something primitive about winter – just rider and machine against the elements. After a summer of sportives and racing, it’s also an opportunity to take things back to basics.

That means not focusing endlessly on intervals, tapering or race dates, and instead taking things down a notch, enjoying the winter club run and embracing the cafe stop. That means cake, too.

Winter is the ideal opportunity to ride, re-focus and plan next year’s challenges.

Winter is a chance to take thing back to basics – enjoy the club run and the cafe stop (Pic: Mark Blakeley)

Hitting next season strong

Regardless of what you want to achieve on the bike next year, a winter of riding will always help you get closer to those goals.

You might be hoping to race your bike for the first time, to smash it in a particular sportive, or just spend a few more hours in the saddle – regardless, a good base of winter riding is the first step to getting there.

If you’re ever in doubt about wanting to go for a ride, just think about the awesome feeling of smashing your buddies on the first post-Christmas club ride, or setting down a fantastic time at one of the big early-season sportives like Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix

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