It’s hard work heading into winter. I know this is a big claim for many of us who live in Australia, as really…it’s quite temperate. But despite being fortunate to live in a climate that really doesn’t have much winter, the cooler mornings and reduced light can mean that it can still be a huge effort to get out and keep fit on the bike over these months. Someone once said; “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. To which I say poppycock! If it’s under 20 degrees that’s almost arctic and worthy of full-length arm and leg warmers, full fingers gloves, and perhaps even a balaclava. (Yep, we are pretty tough here in Queensland). In full seriousness; winter delivers shorter and cooler days, and for some people this can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression relating to the reduction of light leading to altered mood, disrupted sleep patterns, and changes in appetite. Regardless of whether you’re just brisk-averse (see what I did there?) or suffering with a more severe SAD-type issue, exercise is key throughout winter. I have put together some great ideas to keep you rolling through the bitter, ghastly cold winter (of tropical Queensland or even a place where it actually gets cold).
1. GET YOUR S%^& TOGETHER
If you are planning on a morning ride, tip one is to have all your things ready to go. There is nothing easier to do than hit the alarm, get up, decide that getting organised is too hard, and roll over and pull the donna up a bit tighter. If you have your lights charged and on the bike, tyre pressure dialled, bottle ready to go, kit planned out and coffee waiting for you (brewed the day prior—#protip) then it’s much easier to roll out of bed, into your kit and hit the trail.
2. PHONE A FRIEND
Phone a friend, organise the ride and don’t be that gal that cancels. Having someone to ride with always makes riding seem easier, and having something planned keeps you accountable; even in the depths of winter.
3. SCHEDULE A BREW-RIDE
Look, I’m the first to admit that at times the only reason I have even started a ride is because there is a promise of coffee at the end. Usually this goes hand in hand with #2, and the ride starts with meeting some good friends, huffing a lot, sprinting up and down some hills, followed by some #deepregret and myself asking how far away the coffee shop is. Every two minutes. Coffee shop rides keep you in the social loop, give you extra energy, and also warm the fingers tinged with frostbite from the blizzards encountered on the trail.
4. THINK LONG TERM
How much better will you feel once the ride is done? Usually a heck-load better than just sleeping in, rolling out of bed and going to work. Some rides are just toil, there is no way around it. But invariably, even the rides where you feel like there are lead weights in your legs, and you’re riding like a numpty, result in a slightly better mood and outlook for the rest of the day.
5. ENTER AN EVENT
If you’re a goal-driven person, entering an event a few months away can be the swift kick up the bum required to get out and ride. It doesn’t matter what you enter; gravity, a marathon, even an off-road triathlon for those who enjoy life without socks. Whatever the event, once you’re signed up it’s a kind of unwritten commitment to ride your bike.
6. TAKE A HOLIDAY
If all else fails and it’s simply too hard/cold/dark to ride and you’re in a big old winter hole, then perhaps take a holiday. Skiing is (allegedly) an enjoyable sport, or alternatively for a healthy dose of Vitamin D you could visit the northern hemisphere and enjoy their glorious summer. I hear the South of France is nice?