12 things ev­ery cy­clist needs to do over Christ­mas

Hark! What's this? Only a dozen strate­gies to help ev­ery cy­clist cope with the ex­cesses and stresses of tin­sel sea­son!

Bikes Etc - - CONTENTS - Words Nick Soldinger Il­lus­tra­tion Kevin Soldinger Fe­bru­ary

A dozen strate­gies to help you cope with the ex­cesses and stresses of tin­sel sea­son.

Hol­i­days are com­ing, hol­i­days are com­ing… and that means plenty of time off. But how do you use the Christ­mas and New Year break wisely? Is it a time to ride, or a time to rest? How do you avoid over­do­ing it at the sea­sonal knees-ups you’ll in­evitably find your­self at? And how do you bal­ance time spent with your bike against time spent with loved ones? Here are our 12 ways of Christ­mas. No-non­sense strate­gies that are de­signed to get you through the yule­tide pe­riod with­out let­ting any­body down, with­out end­ing up too portly to sling your leg over your bike’s top tube come Jan­uary and, most im­por­tantly, with­out miss­ing out on the fun… 1 Have a plan

For many at this pressie-swap­ping time of year, P&P means postage and pack­ing. To the keen cy­clist, how­ever, it stands for plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion. So blow the dust off your diary or get into us­ing a dig­i­tal op­tion such as Google’s Cal­en­dar app, which has the ben­e­fit of be­ing able to send re­minders to your smart­phone of up­com­ing events. Whether it’s go­ing for a few af­ter-work eggnogs with col­leagues or spend­ing the week­end with the in-laws po­litely de­clin­ing of­fers to sam­ple their choco­late log, as soon as you know where you’re go­ing to be, book it in. This will give you a frame­work to build your rid­ing time around, plan­ning longer rides, for ex­am­ple, on days when you’re un­likely to be hun­gover. Hav­ing a sched­ule to stick to will also help mo­ti­vate you, en­sur­ing your train­ing – and fit­ness – don’t dras­ti­cally dip. Don’t dodge fam­ily events to ride ei­ther. In­stead, hon­our those com­mit­ments with good cheer, so you can then en­joy your ‘me’ time on the bike with­out guilt, in­stead of end­ing up in the mid­dle of some aw­ful Easten­ders- style Xmas melt­down.

2 Be adapt­able

At the stroke of mid­night on New Year’s Eve there’s a good chance you’ll be hold­ing hands with a cou­ple of ran­doms and slur­ring the words to Rob­bie Burns’ Auld Lang Syne. But it’s ac­tu­ally an­other of the Scot­tish poet’s apho­risms that’s worth bear­ing in mind over the hol­i­days – the one about the best-laid plans of mice and men go­ing awry. Yep, we know we told you in the pre­vi­ous point that plan­ning is ev­ery­thing, but c’mon, we all know life has a habit of slid­ing a few oil pud­dles un­der your wheels. Last­minute in­vites, un­ex­pected vis­its, trips to A&E with ac­ci­dent-prone kids, a bout of the snif­fles, shock­ing weather… any of these may dis­rupt your sched­ule so be pre­pared to adapt. Should you lose a planned ses­sion for what­ever rea­son, check your diary to see where you might be able to slot it back in with min­i­mum fuss. Al­ter­na­tively, if the min­utes avail­able for a ride are cut short, make up for (lit­er­ally) lost time by in­creas­ing your ef­forts. A more in­tense work­out is usu­ally more ben­e­fi­cial to your over­all fit­ness than crank­ing out long, steady miles.

3 Build a buf­fer

Even though you won’t be at work and will the­o­ret­i­cally have more time on your hands, life can con­spire to keep you out of the sad­dle. In fact, you may even find your­self rid­ing less than you nor­mally do – par­tic­u­larly if you use your bike to com­mute. Ob­vi­ously, it’s no bad thing to use the hol­i­days to al­low your body to re­cover, but the missed rides will soon take their toll and you’ll be sur­prised how quickly fit­ness can fall away – es­pe­cially if you’re adding mince pies and schooners of mulled wine to the mix. To get around this, you can build a buf­fer by do­ing what sports-sci­ence types call func­tional over­reach­ing. What this means in plain English is that in the days build­ing up to an ex­tended lay­off – days when you’d other­wise be putting a few miles in – re­ally push your­self on the bike. Add in some ex­tra miles, de­feat that hor­ri­ble hill you’ve al­ways avoided, try to beat a per­sonal best or nab a Strava KOM – what­ever it takes, do it to push your fit­ness up a gear. It’ll pro­vide your body with a bit of a buf­fer so that when the time comes to get back on the bike af­ter the Xmas ex­cess is over, you won’t find it so tough.

4 Ride at dawn

Dur­ing the hol­i­days, there’s one time of day when loved ones are less in­clined to want to hang out. And that’s first thing in the morning when they’d sooner catch up on sleep, mak­ing early morn­ings the ideal time to get a quick hour or so’s cy­cling in. There are other ad­van­tages, too. Ever heard fit­ness-in­dus­try types bang­ing on about EPOC? This is an acro­nym for Ex­cess Post-ex­er­cise Oxy­gen Con­sump­tion which ba­si­cally de­scribes a sit­u­a­tion where your body con­tin­ues to burn calo­ries af­ter ex­er­cise be­cause you’ve suf­fi­ciently revved your me­tab­o­lism through your ef­forts. One study showed that par­tic­i­pants burned 190 calo­ries more in the 14 hours af­ter ex­er­cise than sub­jects who didn’t ex­er­cise. This sce­nario is par­tic­u­larly well suited to early morning work­outs as the meals you con­sume through­out the day will have more of their calo­ries in­stantly torched than stored as fat. Stud­ies also show that early morning ex­er­cise im­proves well­be­ing and men­tal sharp­ness by both rais­ing en­ergy lev­els and help­ing you to sleep bet­ter. Stir in the fact that the roads will be less con­gested and the air freer from pol­lu­tion at that time of day, and you’ve got some com­pelling rea­sons for get­ting on the bike early – just watch out for ice at this time of year, yeah? And lay your kit out the night be­fore so it’s ready to pull on when you open your eyes – it’ll help you crawl out from un­der your duvet.

5 Tur­bocharge your train­ing

As al­ready men­tioned, you need to be adapt­able so if a planned hour-long ride gets tor­pe­doed by 10 inches of overnight snow­fall, don’t just see it as an ex­cuse to crack out the Qual­ity Street and watch Die Hard for the hun­dredth time. In­stead, clamp your bike into your turbo trainer and put your hour in there. Be­cause your ef­fort will be con­stant (you don’t tend to free­wheel on a turbo) it’ll be just as ben­e­fi­cial as a ride out there in the real world. Es­pe­cially if you mix in some High In­ten­sity In­ter­val Train­ing (HIIT). For more on how to get the most out of turbo-trainer ses­sions, see page 112.

6 Shop smarter

When you’re wheel­ing that shop­ping trolley around the su­per­mar­ket at this time of year, there’s a ten­dency to stuff it with all sorts of foods you wouldn’t nor­mally eat. It’s not just a dan­ger­ous time of year to be a turkey. Tricksy ad ex­ecs, nos­tal­gia, and sea­sonal tra­di­tions all play their part in mak­ing sure the sale of pies, cheese, cakes, cham­pagne, liqueurs, choco­lates, crisps and puddings all re­ceive a nice bump at this time of year. We’re not say­ing you shouldn’t treat your­self to the odd in­dul­gence over Christ­mas but make it one or two rather than whole a trolley full. Af­ter all, if it’s not there in your kitchen tempt­ing you with its happy pack­ag­ing to un­nec­es­sar­ily add to the day’s calo­rie count, you won’t find your­self on the other side of New Year strug­gling up a hill with the fat it ended up as slow­ing you down. And while we’re on the sub­ject of grub…

7 Eat in­tel­li­gently

You’re go­ing to have a fair few bad eat­ing choices shoved un­der your nose over the fes­tive pe­riod, par­tic­u­larly at par­ties. One of the worst things you can do is ar­rive at a bash with a rum­bling tum hav­ing elected to starve your­self all day in ex­pec­ta­tion of guz­zling a load of rub­bish. This will not re­sult in you con­sum­ing fewer calo­ries. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll con­sume more and most likely in the form of food that isn’t nu­tri­tion­ally rich. In­stead your body will crave sweet foods as your blood-sugar lev­els will be low. Eat as you would nor­mally through­out the day and you won’t feel the need to reach for the cakes and the cookies as soon as you ar­rive. Look for healthy party food op­tions, too. Sure, you’ll find plenty of un­healthy, pro­cessed munchies on of­fer at the av­er­age Christ­mas party spread, but more of­ten than not you’ll also find un­both­ered plates of whole foods such as fruit, nuts, olives and veg­etable cru­dités, with the lat­ter of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by a yogurt or hou­mous dip. Make sure most of what ends up on your pa­per plate looks like this, rather than some­thing that comes wrapped in a pa­per muf­fin case and has Santa’s fat face iced onto it.

You’ll find plenty of nuts, olives and veg­etable cru­di­ties at Christ­mas par­ties. Make sure most of what ends up on your plate looks like this rather than some­thing wrapped in a muf­fin case that has Santa’s face iced onto it

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