The onset of ice and snow is no reason to leave the bike at home, but it is undeniable that cold weather brings greater risks to cyclists. According to one October 2018 study published in the Safety Science journal and primarily geared towards testing the effectiveness of yellow vests, there is a 10% increased risk of accidents during winter.

The reasons for this are obvious, yet specific preparations can give you the extra edge you need in order to stay healthy and continue your progress on the roads. What’s more, winter training can give you some great benefits come the midyear period.

Making your ride more secure

The first step to making winter training safe is to make some subtle adjustments to your bike. According to City Lab, among the most effective of these is a simple saddle lowering. By opting to go a little slower and a little safer, you can reduce your center of gravity and increase your stability on slicks. It’s also recommended that you let your tires deflate just that little bit – having less whiz will give you grip on the road. There are, however, times when the snow and ice will be too thick or solid to ride through. At these times, it’s a great idea to convert your bike to a standing one – that way you can continue your exercise and training despite the cold while remaining comfortable with your favorite cycle. You’ll save money too on gym memberships too.

Staying warm with modified sessions

Two cyclists in winter
It’s never too cold to cycle if you’re wearing the right clobber.

With your gear set, it’s important to modify how you approach cycling. According to British cycling advocates Cycling UK, moving to short, hard sessions will bring benefits in a few different ways.

Firstly, it will give you an extra spurt of power and endurance for your year-round cycling.

Secondly, it will keep you warm, which is incredibly important in the winter; particularly in racing lycras, you can feel the chill and become ill quickly.

Finally, it gives you a bit of strength that you might not be developing year-round and gives you the opportunity to beat away any lack of motivation stemming from repetitive training schedules.

The benefit of the cold

Simply put, cold weather, forces your body to work much harder to heat up and burn calories. The contrast of warm air to freezing air in the lungs couldn’t be more shocking for many enthusiasts, and this is especially felt at speed when on a bike. There are further benefits to cold-weather training that will benefit your performance year-round; lifestyle mag Quartz makes particular note of one study which found cold-weather training promotes “beige fat”. The accumulation of this tissue helps to filter out metabolites, which are linked to poor standards of post-exercise recovery.

The winter isn’t the time to hide away – far from it, it’s an opportunity to put in solid foundations for the rest of the year. Making a success of winter months is, simply, a matter of preparation. Done well, it will keep your progress moving through the colder months and provide you with extra value for the rest of the year.

Jane Sandwood

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