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    Training Tips For Winter Riding

    Training Tips For Winter Riding

    Cycling Blog Tips for Riding in Winter

    The gap between Christmas and New Year's Day is a great time to get some miles under your belt. A couple of hours solitude on the open road is just what you need after the madness, and let's be honest, boredom of the Christmas break. Shaving a few grams off your bike weight aren't going to make nearly as much difference to the upcoming season as training through the winter, so make sure you get out there. It can be dangerous, however, so please bear in mind the below tips when you’re out on the road this winter.

    Be visible

    With any luck the winter will be bright, dry and sunny; and having your bike lights with you will be the last thing on your mind. However, the dusk can draw in very fast at this time of year, and you don’t want to be caught out on road without your lights. Make sure you take them just in case. If possible also make sure that your winter kit has some high-viz. Every little helps.

    Winter Cycling Blog Overshoes

    Prepare for the worst and layer up

    It’s fairly common knowledge that the weather in the UK can change in a pedal-stroke, so don’t be caught out - make sure you layer up. It’s a lot better to be too hot and peel layers off than to be shivering on the bike wishing to high heaven you’d brought a rain jacket. Think about the little things - will I need gloves, a snood, over-shoes (the most important thing you can own). The chances are the answer is yes, and worst case you can just take them off. Think ahead. Just because it’s nice and sunny when you set off, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay like that. If the weather turns and you’re not prepared you won’t enjoy the ride!

    Ride what and where you know

    Whilst we here at Dirty Wknd are all for cycling in new places and discovering new routes, we recommend that you actually play it a bit safe at this time of year, and ride somewhere you know. With conditions and road surfaces likely to be a bit more treacherous, you don’t really want to be dealing with the unknown. If you know the route, and you know what to expect (i.e. how certain corners will change in the wet) then you’re much more likely to have a safe and enjoyable training ride.

    Keep it short 

    Unless you’re a hardened pro, used to riding though driving rain and snow, then we suggest keeping your winter training rides short. Whilst you might be able to spend a whole day in the saddle in the summer, it’s much harder, and much less fun to do so in the Winter. Once you’re muscles start to fatigue and your body temperature starts to drop it’s very difficult to keep your moral up. This is not to say it should be an easy ride, just a shorter one. Give it everything for the few hours you’re on the bike (and we do recommend 2-3 hours at a time) and then return home to the warmth. You can always go out again tomorrow.

    Group Cycling on a Winter Training Ride

    Bring a friend (or at least tell a friend)

    Ideally you will be cycling with a friend or a group (massively helps with motivation), but there will be times when you're out on your own. Letting someone know you're out riding alone is very sensible advice for the rest of the year anyway, but especially so in winter. Let a friend or partner know that you’re going out, where you’re going and roughly how long it should take. This might seem like an extreme measure but it’s best to be safe.

    Enter an early season sportive

    Challenges like the Rapha Festive 500 are great to keep you motivated over the Christmas break when you've got plenty of spare time, but it becomes much harder in January when work is back in full swing and it's blowing a gale outside. Entering an early season sportive, or even better, a winter series, is  a great way to force yourself outside. There are plenty of events in Jan and Feb to keep you on the road through the winter months. Click the link for options from Wiggle, Evans and Ordnance Survey plus more -  Winter Sportives

    It is important to get out there, but it is more important to be safe out there!

    Christmas gifts for the cyclist in your life (that won’t break the bank)

    Christmas gifts for the cyclist in your life (that won’t break the bank)

    If you’ve got a cyclist in your life, you’ll know how hard they are to buy for. Bikes, components and gadgets are all highly personal to each individual cyclist, and clothes are a nightmare as the fit is often different depending on the brand. It’s a minefield; and there is nothing worse than watching your loved one pretend that the bib tights you bought them are ‘exactly the ones they wanted!’

    However that is not to say that you have to steer clear of cycling gifts altogether; stick to our gift guide and there are many things you can buy for your cyclist. If you do want to make a statement, we suggest buying a gift voucher from your local bike shop or online, and allowing them to pick their own dream present. Less romantic we agree, but it is a fact that most cyclists love to geek out on the specs, reviews and variables of their purchases. You don’t want to take that away from them!

    Quad Lock Mobile Bike Mount:

    The best smartphone case and mount system we’ve come across. Incredibly well engineered, highly practical and, unlike so many other attempts, quite attractive! The Phone case is good quality and highly protective, and the locking mechanism is well made, simple to use, and does actually work (nothing worse than your precious iPhone bouncing down the road at 20mph!) Quad lock also provide a waterproof cover for adverse weather conditions so there’s no excuse not to ride in winter! With more and more mobile friendly GPS options available, cyclists no longer have to rely on expensive devices to navigate and track their rides. If your cyclist doesn’t have an on board computer or use their phone, this might be the answer; it will open up a whole world of new possibilities. From £19.95

    Castelli Cycling Socks:

    You can never go wrong with socks! However giving your cyclist a pair of Pringle socks, whilst lovely, isn’t going to do the trick! Depending on your budget, there are a huge array to choose from. Whether you want to blow your sock budget on a nice pair of Rapha, or put a new pair of Dhb to go in their stocking, a nice pair of thermal socks can make all the difference on a winter ride! Call us traditionalists, but we love a good pair of dad socks! So why not combine both, and go for this stylish Castelli pair, with fetching pringle pattern! £15

    Topeak Joe Blow Max II Track Pump:

    Tyre pressure is one of the most important things you can easily adjust to improve your ride, and more often than that not a hand pump just isn’t going to cut it! A decent track pump is the most important piece of kit you can keep at home, and something every cyclist should own. Things to look out for when buying are the size and readability of the gauge, the length of the hose, and that the connection has both Schrader and Presta valves. At £20 the Joe Blow is a solid, well priced option, but if you want to push the boat out, go for the Axiom Annihilateair. It’s pricey (£85), but you can’t beat it for quality, and comes with a lifetime guarantee

    Blaze Laserlight and Burner light set:

    Having a good set of lights is incredibly important whether commuting or road racing. Particularly at this time of year when fog and mist can fall at anytime, and it easy to get caught by the dark on a training ride. Blaze Laserlight and Burner, created in the UK and launched and developed on Kickstarter, is pioneering a new brand of cycling light. Waterproof and USB chargeable, it is the green laser that projects the image of a bike onto the road in front of you that sets Blaze apart. The heightened presence on the road makes the cyclist safer. The rear Burner light has the same powerful LEDs as the Laserlight, with the addition of a built in sensor so the light activates as dusk draws in. It helps that they are beautifully crafted and incredibly easy to use too. £135

    Bike Fit from Personal BikeFit London:

    Cyclists love to buy new kit; whether it’s a new set of wheels, the latest on board computer, or an extra tight pair of bib shorts! We justify the expense by claiming that the reduced weight, increased aerodynamics and extra stats will make us faster/stronger/better. There is no doubt that these things make a difference, however very few riders get a proper bike fit, despite it being more beneficial than all the gizmos put together. A fitting at Personal Bikefit will take around 3 hours and will adjust every aspect of your bike to fit you; from cleat and pedal position to stem length and bar width. The result will be improved performance gains, greater comfort in the saddle and an increased enjoyment on the bike. £240

    The World of Cycling According to G:

    Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a good book, and Geraint Thomas’ new offering is arguably the best of the year. Thomas is the cyclist’s cyclist; a team man who is happy to knuckle down and do his job, and it is clearly a job that he loves! Not the team leader, Thomas gives a refreshing perspective from the peleton and life as a domestique, and a unique insight into his more well known colleagues, including Froome, Wiggo and Cav. As one of Team Sky’s original members, he has seen the team rise to it’s Tour winning heights, and he recounts the journey with humour and humility. £10

    Top 5 things to do in Bath this Christmas

    Top 5 things to do in Bath this Christmas

    Bath is the perfect city to see in a weekend; intimate, but packed full of amazing history and nightlife. The incredible North Somerset countryside also offers excellent cycling and walking routes. At only two hours from London, it’s the perfect spot for a Dirty Weekend!

    There is also something magical about the Ancient Roman city during the festive period that makes now the best time to go. From the Christmas market surrounding the Abbey, to the quaintly decorated Georgian streets; Bath at this time of year will have you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

    1. Visit Bath Christmas market

    Bath Christmas Market is the largest in southern England with over 170 wooden ‘chalet’ stalls selling all kinds of craft gifts, over 80% of which are hand made by local traders. An afternoon in the market is an afternoon well spent; with the smell of mulled wine, fresh mince pies, and the sounds of carol singers to accompany you. And if you do need a little break from shopping, pop into the Apres Ski bar (new this year), and just drink in the atmosphere. The stalls surround the Abbey and the Spa in the centre of the city, so there aren’t many more spectacular locations for a Christmas Market. More info — http://www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk/

    2. Cycle to Cheddar Gorge

    The incredible Cheddar Gogre cycle — not as daunting as it looks!

    Cheddar Gorge is one of the South West’s most beautiful sights, and is something of a pilgrimage for cyclists. Nestled in the Mendip Hills (itself an outstanding area of natural beauty), it is Britain’s biggest gorge, boasting cliffs of 450 feet. The road that runs through the gorge is an incredible cycle; it’s hilly and challenging, but the beautiful landscape will keep you going. We recommend storing your bikes at the visitors centre and taking a walk around — there’s loads to see and do, and a nice little cafe for a spot of lunch before the ride back. It’s a 25 mile cycle south west from Bath, so doable on an active weekend away; the outstanding landscape is well worth the effort! More info — http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/

    3. Hike the Bath Skyline walk

    Bath is a great city to hike around, with incredible hills, history and scenery right on your doorstep. It’s compact size means that as soon as you get out of the centre, you’re basically in the countryside! The Skyline walk starts just south of the city on Bathwick Hill and heads out in a 6 mile loop over stile and through meadow, offering some stunning views of the city along the way. The route takes in an iron age fort and an 18th Century castle, with plenty of wildlife along the way. It is a challenging walk, with some steep hills, but it’s definitely worth it for the views. The route ends where it began, so you can wander back into the city for a well deserved drink. More info — Bath Skyline Walk

    4. Climb at Cheddar Gorge

    We really can’t recommend Cheddar Gorge highly enough! It offers so much to the active weekender, and is so close to Bath, you really can get the best of both a relaxing city break and an extreme weekend! If you’re not a cyclist, then Cheddar Gorge is a short drive from Bath with free parking at the visitors centre. Once there, you can hike the limestone cliff path, complete with incredible views of Somerset, or book yourself onto a rock climbing excursion. There are different level classes, so complete beginners can be shown the ropes, and more experienced climbers can tackle some of the gorge’s tougher climbs . If you’re planning a Christmas trip to Bath, then aim for the 4th December: Cheddar Gorge’s festive night! Carol singers and festive food and wine; all set in the beautiful surrounds of the gorge. More info — http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/

    5. Visit the Spa’s, old and new

    Thermae Spa rooftop pool, complete with Abbey view!

    No trip to Bath is complete without visiting the Roman and Thermae spas. One ancient; one ultra-modern, and both incredible experiences. Pick up aSpas Ancient and Modern pass and get entry into both spas, with lunch or champagne tea in the Pump Room. The Roman Baths are one of the most famous historical sites in Northern Europe, and the free audio guides make the tour incredibly interactive. You can even listen to commentary from Bill Bryson, the American best-seller, who lived in bath for a while. From the ancient history of Roman Britain, you move seamlessly onto the very 21st Century modern Thermae Spa. It is the country’s only naturally warm spa, and a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon, especially if you’ve cycled or hiked the day before. They have taken the ancient spa waters, the very same that the Romans bathed in nearly 2000 years ago, and housed it in a high-tech setting complete with modern architecture. So come to Bath, and do like the Romans do — spend an afternoon in the Minerva Bath, indulging in one of the spa treatments, or just relaxing in the roof top pool. When in Rome… http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/