Winter Happens Every Year
Yep, believe it or not it comes around once a year. That time of year when the days get a little shorter, the temperature drops and depending on where you choose to live that tub of winter cycling clothing under the bed or on top of the wardrobe in the man cave is dragged down and gone through only to find that the elastic in your 10 year old trusty winter bib knicks has finally given up on all versions of life. It now resembles a floppy, lifeless mess of black lycra and in some cases becomes more see through then the glad wrap over last nights dinner. Some would even say that it resembles your neighbours grandmothers underwear, yes we all gave a friend like that.
So it comes up every year and every year I hear the same, exactly the same responses;
- Gee it's much colder than last year.
- I'm not riding outside its waaaaay to cold.
- That's it I'm buying an indoor trainer.
Having worked in and around the cycling industry and attended group rides and been in retail stores you can definitely not only sense but see the onset of that thing called winter. The numbers drop, the sales on winter apparel goes through the roof and the excuses come on fast and thick.
The good news is we've all been there and there is hope. Here are my top 5 tips to get your arse moving on those cold winter mornings;
1. Check the rig - Winter can be a great calendar reminder to get to the bike shop. In most places the bike takes a bit more of a beating through the colder months. Generally more wet roads mean more wear and tear with brake pads, chains and cassettes. Riding in the dark more should see you doing a few more general checks also. Make sure the tyres are free from debris as you get rolling. You are certainly more of a bandit for crap on the road in the dark with a light that which could make a blind man see again, hasn't got the ability to light the entire road like the yellow thing in the sky can.
2. Ring a mate - Book in a ride. ring a mate, find a mate or book a tinder date but make sure you are accountable to someone else to get out on the road. One friend is best because you can always pull the pin if theres a group of three or four who wont really miss your presences.
3. Get organised - I'm the worst organised cyclist the night before a ride but in winter everything is ready to rock and roll. Get your lights on the charger. Lay out all of your clothes right where you intend to get changed. Eliminate all the excuses you can to stay in that nice warm bed.
4. Early bed = early riser - Get to bed early. There's nothing worse than getting through 8 episodes of Homeland and loving it only to realise that in just 4.75 hours time that bloody alarm is going off. There's honestly no better feeling than waking up 3 minutes before that dreaded phone goes off knowing that you're ready to get up and deal with the weather. On the opposing side of things your partner will be massively pissed should you hit the snooze button 16 times then struggle to even walk as you run through the house getting ready to roll.
5. Coffee time....pre-ride - Give yourself a little time. It certainly takes a little longer to get ready before showtime. Extra clothes, extra mental time to get that head in the right space and my favourite, time to make a little coffee while you get ready to go and be dominated by the group. Make it a stiff one, even with a little whiskey if that's your poison although probably not a great idea to show up pissed at the 5:30am meet point.
Now a must is the three Instagram stories......the 4:30am alarm story, the mid ride temperature update and of course the mandatory coffee story where you tag the people that didn't show up. Feel free to follow appropriate Instagram accounts for more guidance on the filter and terminology required for this part of the ride.
Remember to be safe. There's always a huge upsurge in accidents throughout winter with many riding in the pre-dawn darkness. Ensure that both you and the people you ride with are well aware of how the group signals all things including debris on the road, to a stopping signal. Stay away from the wheel in front and use your voice to alert any of the group to any changing conditions you've noticed. The number of occasions I've seen incidents totally avoided just simply through great communication is amazing. Get a quick ride briefing in before riding. If someone's new to the group this is even more important but should happen either way.
Above all else give yourself a pat on the back when no one's watching for getting up and have fun.