How to Stay Motivated During the Winter Months

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Staying in cycling shape is critically important for a healthy lifestyle and if you want to keep improving your performance for future races.

But when the weather gets cold and rainy rides turn to snowy rides, getting in the saddle is no easy task.

So, how exactly can you stay motivated to keep riding during the winter months?

Many people simply give up in the winter and lose any fitness progress they’ve made in the past year. That’s not going to be you, though!

Here are a handful of ways to stay motivated to keep riding in the winter.

Form A Small Riding Group

You’re not alone when it comes to being motivated in the winter to hop on the bike. So, in order to keep pedaling year-round, find others who are in the same boat as you.

Form a small riding group that commits to at least a couple of rides per week. Now, these rides don’t have to be hardcore hill climbs or time trials. Treat them as an opportunity to simply get your heart rates up and enjoy time with a friend or two.

If you’re already in a cycling club that essentially shuts down during the winter, reach out to some of your club mates and see if they’re interested in joining your small riding group.

If you’re struggling to convince people to join, try and come up with some fun ideas to make the rides sound more appealing, like:

  • Bike and brew. Go out for an easy 10 miler and end it at a favorite brewery or coffee shop. That craft beer will taste better after putting in some work.
  • Scenic rides. Riding on your same old routes in the winter could be boring. So, make a point to travel out to a route that you haven’t traveled as much. If it has nice views, that’s a bonus and extra motivator!

Get Kitted Correctly

One of the biggest deterrents to cycling during the winter is the cold weather. The last thing many cyclists want to do is go out for a ride when temperatures dip below freezing.

But if you’re properly kitted, riding during the winter can actually be invigorating and enjoyable.

So, what are some cold-weather essentials to add to your collection of kits?

  • A balaclava is practically a necessity. It covers your entire face, minus your eyes, and is typically made with some kind of wind-stopping fabric to keep cold air off you. And yes, your helmet can easily fit over most balaclavas.
  • A sleeveless base layer seems like it wouldn’t do much to keep you warm, but it actually does a great job of insulating your core. This is because it wicks away sweat and keeps you dry.
  • Lobster gloves are the perfect mix between traditional gloves, which offer great dexterity, and mittens, which do a better job of insulating your hands.
  • A cold weather jacket is your most important piece of gear. You need something light, but with enough insulation and wind-stopping technology to keep you warm on your ride. Of course, these can be the most expensive items to add to your kit.
  • Shoe covers. Your cycling shoes have vents in them to help your feet breathe better on warm rides. Shoe covers prevent cold air from getting into those vents.
  • Bib tights. Some of the nicer ones are fleece-lined and include wind-stopping technology to keep your legs nice and toasty warm. Bibs can be expensive.

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Ride Indoors

Many cyclists think bringing the bike indoors on a trainer during the winter to train will keep them motivated.

But those indoor rides can actually become boring and do more harm than good when it comes to staying motivated.

So, here are some ideas to make those indoor rides more appealing.

  • Go virtual. Platforms like Zwift turn your indoor rides into fun, interactive adventures with others who are also training indoors. Zwift works best with a smart trainer that automatically adds resistance to your ride to have it match up with the terrain you’re virtually riding on in the app. You can see your bike-riding avatar on your device and see other virtual cyclists riding alongside you.
  • Group fitness class. Peloton started the trend of working out at home. But if you don’t own a Peloton bike, there are other group classes you can take advantage of. If you own an Apple Watch, try out Apple Fitness+, which features a growing collection of on-demand bike workouts. You can track your heart rate and calories burned on your device as you go through your ride. Afterwards, do one of the platform’s 10-minute mindful cooldowns.

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Do Cross Training

There are actually a handful of indoor exercises you can do to stay in bike shape without actually riding your bike.

  • Swimming. If you have access to an indoor gym, swimming is a great low-impact cardio workout.
  • Yoga. Yoga or pilates is a great way to build core strength and increase your flexibility, which will serve you well on those longer bike rides in the summer. You can take an in-person yoga class or take a class virtually through one of the many available apps today.
  • Weights. You should always supplement your bike riding with muscle-building activities like lifting weights.
  • Running is another great option, but if you’re concerned about riding during the winter, you may not be motivated to go for a run outside. If you own a treadmill or have access to a gym, running is a top cardio workout that can significantly build up your cycling endurance.

Stay Off the Bike

It’s ok to take a mental and physical break from biking. Your bike isn’t going anywhere!

Like anything in life, be it work or a hobby like cycling, you need to take a break to avoid burnout.

But that doesn’t mean shutting it down completely. Use this time away from the bike to plan your upcoming fitness and cycling goals and focus on aspects of the sport that you love the most.

For some, that might mean researching a few new races to compete in next season. Others may want to plan a big cycling trip with friends.

Use this time away from the bike to recharge physically and mentally. When you’re ready to get back on the bike, your body will thank you.