Autumn is upon us. It’s easy for motivation levels to drop when the conditions deteriorate and days are getting really shorter in November. It can be tempting to take one look at the weather and decide to go to the cinema instead of ride. But by preparing for and committing to all-weather riding, you get to continue to enjoy the many health benefits of cycling as well as build a satisfying sense of resilience and self-discipline.
You’ll stay stronger and healthier
According to a study on cold-exposed and cold adapted humans, the immune system shows an increase in immune system activity when exposed to repeated cold treatments. Also, if you are fitter when you start your winter training then you aren’t going to need to stress your system quite as much to get back to peak form. One thing which can really impact on winter training is illness, but if your system isn’t as fatigued then your immune system won’t be as run down and you might stave off that cold.
It will improve your mood dramatically
Due to a combination of shorter daylight hours, darker days and the tendency to stay in due to cold weather, winter is known to cause or worsen depression. If you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), getting outside on your bike during the day can be doubly helpful. Being around people and going out more often when biking will improve your daily mood during winter. Studies have shown that cyclists are essentially happier people due to a combination of psychological and physiological factors that contribute to better mind-body health.
Consistent training will help you later
Sticking to a training schedule during the autumn will make starting winter training much easier. Fitness is lost more quickly than it’s gained, but maintaining is easier than gaining. To keep you on the bike as regular as possible, get something in the diary. This is essential for getting you out of the house and onto the bike. If you don’t get it written down and organised, you’ll just keep putting it off because of a bit of cold weather.
Make ride an overnight adventure
Well, days are shorter – let’s gain more fun from the darkness! Recruit a mate or two, and together plan a longer-than-usual loop, with an overnight stay somewhere near the halfway point. This is a nice way to do some training with the added bonus of feeling like you’re on an adventure.
Try a new discipline
To keep your motivation up, why not try out a new discipline? Cyclo-cross is becoming increasingly popular and is one of the most accessible forms of bike racing and it also gives you a chance to work on your technique. Even if you don’t want to race, riding around the woods is a great way to spend a couple of hours, especially when it’s raining and the road bike is hardly an appealing prospect.
In the end, it’s not uncomfortable
Yes, it might be rainy and chilly, but with the right gear you’ll be able to enjoy it. Are your lights charged and winter tyres fitted? Is your warm, waterproof kit still in serviceable condition, or does it need an upgrade? Do you have overshoes ready? All the proper gear will keep your riding in as much comfort as possible. And don’t forget to mount your mudguards which belong to the general cycling etiquette! Without mudguards, dirt is going to spray up all over your back and soak your backside and possibly even worse it will soil alike the person behind you.