As the full force of winter draws in and the mornings and evenings become darker and the days colder, it’s tempting to start thinking about hanging up your bike for the next few months.
Some riders turn to winter disciplines like cyclocross, others park the bike and chase down the ski season or take up other sports, whilst some hardy souls continue riding outdoors unperturbed all year round, no matter the weather!
However, if the fear of icy roads or sloppy trails, riding in the dark, rain or cold aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps turning to the turbo trainer, indoor bike or spin class is a better way to continue getting the miles in and staying active.
Most of the popular virtual cycling platforms offer social features such as communicating with fellow riders and organising group rides, events or races. These can be a great way to continue riding with friends in the event that group or club ride numbers start to drop off in the winter months. Many riders find that riding with friends or fellow competitors online gives them the motivation needed to keep riding throughout the winter.
If you’re training throughout the colder months for upcoming early season rides or events and are looking to improve your endurance or power, indoor training sessions can be an effective way to achieve highly focused riding. On a turbo trainer or indoor bike, you’re unencumbered by other road users or traffic lights and there’s little chance of having to slow down or give way to horse riders or dog walkers, meaning you can get some high quality riding in, uninterrupted.
Indoor riding is also ideal if you’re time-crunched during the festive season. Due to the increased training efficiency that riding on a turbo trainer, indoor bike or spin bike provides, the fitness benefits from a 2 hour ride outside can often be achieved in a more intense 1 hour indoor cycling session. This can free up your time throughout the winter and mean you could squeeze in an extra ride when time is limited.
If you don’t have a turbo trainer or indoor bike but still want to add some indoor sessions to your winter riding, your local gym should have some form of indoor bike or even spin classes for those who prefer to ride with others.
Some top tips from the Altura team on how to get the most out of your indoor riding
- Keep enough water within reach so that you can stay hydrated without having to dismount. You may want to add some electrolyte or energy supplements to your drink, depending on how long you plan to ride.
- Get a fan. You’re likely to sweat more whilst riding indoors vs outside due to the reduced airflow. A fan can help keep you cooler, preventing overheating whilst reducing sweat. Position it as close to the front of your bike as possible, at torso height.
- If you can, consider opening a window in the room you plan to ride in, a few minutes before you start riding and turn down the heating in that room. This will also help prevent overheating – there’s nothing worse than starting a session then realising the heating has just come on!
- Drape a towel over your handlebars. This serves two purposes – firstly, it can help limit the amount of salty sweat dripping onto your bike and causing corrosion but it’s also handy to have nearby in case you want to wipe away any excess sweat for comfort.
- If you’re looking to improve a certain aspect of your riding by doing indoor sessions, consider finding a local coach or online training plan to follow, to add some more structure.
- Remember to have fun. Riding indoors is a great way of getting exercise in whilst not bearing the brunt of the cold weather. If you are signed up to platforms such as Zwift or RGT, you’ll be able to ride with friends, join events and group rides, and even have the odd go at racing… if you dare! Many riders find that the visual stimulation that these digital platforms provide helps them stay motivated.
We’re big advocates of indoor riding at Altura but we also love heading out on our bikes on a crisp winter morning. Whatever riding you plan to do this winter, we’ve got your back. With kit to protect you from cold and wet weather, reflectivity for low light riding and even an indoor training range designed to keep you cool if you’d prefer to ride from the comfort of your own home or local gym, there are plenty of reasons to stay active!