Autumn is here and just like in Spring another lockdown sets upon us. Except this time, nights will be longer, days will be colder, and you may turn into a couch potato.
Wet, grey, windy days may tempt you with thoughts of selling your bike to buy Christmas presents instead. But if you are hooked to the sport you will want to invest in something that keeps you going and motivates to ride as much as before if not more. I will guarantee you one thing: couch sessions will feel even better and well deserved after an epic mtb ride in the mud.
So here are 5 tips to keep you happy through the winter:
Invest in winter clothing
Get a bicycle cleaning kit – or make your own
Give it a try to night rides, and buy a good set of lights
Create your own challenge and get some friends to join
Take a skill course or coaching session
When I mean waterproofs, I mean shorts, jacket, but also gloves and socks. Waterproof jackets will keep the rain out but it is almost impossible to be completely waterproof and at the same time breathable. If you are buying a waterproof jacket get one with some vents designed in a way they let sweat out, but don't let water in. Vents are usually under the armpits or concealed under flaps round the body.
If you don’t like the feeling of waterproof socks, merino socks can keep your feet warm.
Keeping out the wind: windproof jackets
If you’re not planning to ride in the rain, then a windproof jacket is a good option. Windproof jackets are commonly made from a fabric that's lighter than a waterproof one and much more breathable.
I always carry a nice warm winter vest, it is ideal when you stop for a while. If you think you never stop, not even for a snack you may want to think again - punctures happen, mech hangers break, chains snap…
Base layers keep you comfortable while cycling by trapping a layer of air next to your body to keep you warm, and by transporting sweat away from your skin to keep you dry. You’re likely to wear them on all but the very hottest days
Baselayers made from synthetic fibre (such as polyester blends) get smelly fast, so most now come with some form of antibacterial treatment.
Merino wool is naturally antibacterial, so it can be worn for extended periods without needing washing, but it takes longer to dry and can feel damp next to your skin.
Many higher-end base layers are now made of a mixture of wool and synthetic fibres, they provide a lot of warmth at a lighter weight and drying faster than pure wool.
2. Bicycle cleaning kit
Why do I need a bicycle cleaning kit?
Because it will be wet and muddy, the mud will eat into your components if you don’t clean and lube. There are several options for cleaning kits, which should include a bike cleaner washing liquid, a set of brushes, cloth, and lube. Try to find biodegradable bike wash. In case it is out of stock, use warm water with dishwashing liquid and a soft brush. For the chain use an old toothbrush. Make sure you have a dedicated cloth for cleaning the chain and another one for your bike, you don’t want to get oil in your brake pads.
3. Night rides
Why night rides?
If you’re working from 9 to 5 and are limiting your riding to daylight, you’re only going to be getting out at the weekends. By strapping on some lights you’ll open up the possibility of after work, or before, rides during the week. But above all, it is fun, unexpected and even the trails you know like the back of your hand will feel like a brand new exciting trail to explore. Give it a try it will feel like an adventure.
4. Challenge yourself
I want to:
do a bike packing trip next March, 80% off-road for 4 days/3 nights, 150 miles in total
be able to join a 30 mile guided ride I always wanted to do
be confident in red trails
Your goals should be reasonable according to your fitness and should have defined dates. Basically used the SMART approach to make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based).
Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
5. MTB skill course
If you want to improve your skills and fitness, sometimes the fastest way to achieve your goals while having great fun with other riders is by booking a skill course or personalizer training. Find a local mountain bike skills and coaching provider and explain your goals. I am sure you will improve your riding, become confident, and have more fun in the trails. It may even change your daily life.
Happy winter rides
GMTBIKING provides mtb coaching, skills rides and bikepacking adventures for more info get in touch