With Daylight Savings time ending this upcoming weekend, darkness will fall earlier each day making it more challenging to fit training rides in the schedule. You’ve worked hard all year long, it seems a waste to let your fitness fall off. Given that the days with long sunshine hours are ending, what are the best strategies for continued training and maintaining fitness? Fortunately for you, we’ve written about this topic in previous post and we’ve gathered all of our time tested and results proven strategies together to share our best approaches for making the most of the time change. Here’s what to keep in mind.
Have a goal. The goal can be big, small or in between but having something to shoot for between now and the New Year can inspire you to ride. Goals can be off the bike or bike specific. Meaning, setting nutrition or weight goals can support your motivation to ride. Or, having a goal to ride a certain number of times a week can get you off the sofa and on to the bike. Pick a goal that inspires you and is manageable. The last thing you want to do is set a big, unattainable goal which deflates your motivation for maintaining your cycling training.
Fine tune your fitness. Leverage the tools available to you to promote motivation. Use a heart rate monitor or power meter to benchmark your efforts. Sure, heart rate monitors and power meters have been around for a while now, but how effectively are you using them? Learning what what you need to know about the nuances, ranges, and data interpretation can make a difference in just getting a workout in versus targeting a specific workout in which you hit numbers and are motivated to get after it again the next day.
Time management – It all begins with time management. Schedule your workouts in your calendar. Consider shifting meetings and family obligations to early morning, late afternoon and early evening. Think about optimizing your lunch hour as ride time. These are areas that can assist in getting your scheduled training in during the daylight hours. Again, the idea here is to create a plan and stick to it. If you plan a ride during the daylight hours and miss it, then it creates stress on how to make that ride up. So, if you do, then night riding becomes your option.
Night riding – To begin, don’t be afraid of the dark! Get the right bike parts and cycling apparel to ride and you’ll be inspired to do it. Remember, visibility is crucial – for you and your bike. Outfit your bike with a good light system. You will want lights for the front of your bike. Consider having multiple lights for the front of your bike. One on your helmet so you can shine side roads and traffic and have a second light on your handlebars so you can see at least 10 ft. or more in front of you. For the rear of your bike, opt for a rear red light-particularly one that blinks. A blinking red light is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you. Don’t forget to wear cycling apparel that is visible. There are options to choose from including vests and ankle bands. Also, reflective tape is a good idea. 3M makes black reflective tape that is great to put on black wheels.
Night ride options: Riding in the dark makes the riding of any technical section immediately harder than in the day. It takes a good while to overcome this, so don’t set yourself a task to ride the most demanding trails you have. Ease yourself in as the nights start earlier and downgrade your expectations. Remember, you will inevitably ride and travel more slowly than in daylight. With that being said, be mindful that your route doesn’t exceed your lights battery capacities.
Bike maintenance: Experiencing mechanical difficulties in the cold and at night is not fun! A well maintained bike is a fun bike to ride. Yet, for some, bike maintenance can be a chore. Having the right set of bike components and tools can make all the difference. When prepping your bike for for the colder temps and night riding, there are several things you want to do to keep your bike in good working order. A good thing to always do is to wipe down and inspect the frame. As the weather changes, rain, snow, ice, and road elements pose different cleaning challenges to your frame and bicycle parts. Consider using a stiff, soft-bristled brush to knock off any chunks of dried-on mud that may be on your frame or wheels. Then, follow that up by taking a rag to your bike, wiping it down generally all over to get off any remaining dust or dirt.
Also, remember to lube your chain and cables. As unglamorous as chain lube is, it is a necessity for winter riding. It will keep your bike parts in working order and squeak free! There are many lubes to choose – wet vs dry lube. As conditions vary, you may want to have a couple of different choices on hand. Finally, since you can’t see what you are rolling over in the dark, it’s a good idea to frequently inspect tires, wheels, and brake pads. Check that there is adequate air pressure in the tires. Check that there aren’t any cuts or nicks in the sidewall or tread of the tires. You’ll want to make sure the brake pads are not worn. And, remember to inspect where the brake pads hit the rim; they should contact the rim evenly on both sides and not rub the tire in any way that may cause a flat.
Indoor riding – Maybe you just can’t swing riding during the day and night riding isn’t your thing. You can maintain fitness with indoor training on the trainer. Granted, nobody likes riding the trainer much less riding it for consecutive days in a row, but there are ways to overcome trainer woes to eliminate boredom and support your training. Try different approaches, times of day, and lengths of workouts to keep your trainer workouts fresh.Most cyclist have a love / hate relationship with the trainer. Yet, there are ways to make it work. Check out our post, Trainer Techniques for Winter Training for tips and suggestions on getting the best out of your indoor rides.
Dial it in! Your body and your bike – that is! Get a bike fit. We’ve heard about them, talked about them, but somehow, most of us don’t get one. And why not? They say the quickest way to get faster on the bike is with a bike fit. Sure, fit impacts comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how you ride. Meaning it directly affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. Dialing in your body and your bike parts will keep you motivated as you discover how the new changes positively affect your time on the bike. Use the time change to your advantage to experiment with bike parts, adjust your riding position, and dial in your most efficient riding position.
Ultimately, adjusting to the time change is a mindset shift. The time change can mark the end of the season or bring on a new adventure. Embrace the challenge! Find the right strategy or combination of approaches mentioned and make the time change work for your benefit. Happy Riding!