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Tag: fun

The start of a New Year is a fantastic time to make a few changes in your life. Whether it’s deciding to drop a couple of extra pounds that you’ve been carrying since gorging yourself on Quality Street over Christmas or trying to get back to peak fitness – now is as good a time as any to do something different.

In the past our New Year’s resolutions have always ended up broken by mid-way through February, but this year we’re determined it WILL be different. That’s why we’re switching things up and doing New Year’s reVolutions, not reSolutions. That means focusing on cycling only, and no more caving in at the first sign of peer pressure, or sacking off a ride with friends because the forecast looks less than favourable! 

Here are a few different revolutions you might want to try, as well as our advice for how to make them a success. 

Upgrade your gear

Sometimes we need a little push to invest in new bike stuff, especially if it’s a step up from what you’re used to riding with. Handbuilt wheels, custom frames and carbon fibre componentry don’t come cheap, but when you pay a bit extra you’ll find the riding experience is so much better – not to mention that it’ll last wayyy longer and could end up saving you money on replacement parts.

So this New Year, choose to treat yourself with a new set of wheels, an upgraded drivetrain (like the gorgeous Campag Chrous one in the picture above), or maybe just a flashier choice in bar tape. The rewards will be many and you’ll get to enjoy improved performance all year long.

Ride a 40/80/100-miler

Whether you’ve only dipped your toe into long-distance expeditions, or you’re a seasoned rider looking for a new challenge, setting yourself a new ‘longest ever distance’ target to beat in 2016 is a brilliant way to get and stay motivated. 

And imagine the satisfaction after some hard work in the early season when you finally cross the finish line, able to say you just rode further than you ever have before.

The only downside with this one is there’s always another distance. Just done 50 miles? Next time do 75. Just done 100 miles? Ever heard of a double century?

Get back on the bike

From being involved in a bad traffic accident, to recently having had a baby, to going backpacking round Asia for eight months – as far as reasons for not having ridden a bike in a while, we’ve heard them all!

But we’re here to tell you that NOW is the time to get back in the saddle, start turning those pedals and rediscover the joys of life on two wheels. Remember when you used to commute to work by bike, and now you spend an hour and a half on the sweaty tube everyday? Which did you prefer? Exactly. 

That’s what friends are for

There are few better things in this life than riding bikes with your good friends, so perhaps this year you should start recruiting some new cyclists into this amazing sub-culture of ours. 

They might need a little bit of persuading to begin with – but once you’ve got ’em hooked that’s another riding buddy you’ll be able to call on yourself!

Reach your peak!

When was the last time you were in really good shape? As in absolute ‘top of your game’-type shape? For us it was about four years ago. Or maybe it was five…

Well friends, this is the year we get back to being those peak physical specimens* that we once were. It all starts with getting back on the bike and putting in some major miles in the early season, so you’re poised and ready to get your best results ever all year long.

Imagine checking Strava and finding you’ve beaten an old time you set three years ago. Or absolutely blowing away your usual riding buddies on a particularly tough climb! 

* this may be a slight exaggeration

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We’re yet to meet a cyclist who prefers cycling in winter. It is an awkward and unpredictable time of year to be on a bike, especially in the UK – do you fit heavyweight tyres, or risk it on the slicks? Do you buy a whole new bike to ride through the winter and store your ‘nice’ bike in the shed? Or trash the one you have and buy a new nice bike in summer? It’s a minefield!

Of course, if you can look beyond the cold, wind and rain, there are a lot of great things about cycling through the winter months. Here’s a few of our faves.

Hero points

Some cyclists will baulk at the idea of riding in wintery conditions. If you summon up the courage to take on the wind, those other riders who stayed indoors will worship you! 

Once you’re back from your ride you can hit the shower, open a pack of biscuits then sit back and watch the Strava Kudos roll in!

Beat the Christmas bulge

Which leads us nicely on to food! Who doesn’t just love hearty winter food? We all do, and that’s why it is so easy to put on weight over winter. But if you’re regularly still out on your bike, you should be able to get away with it. You can put those additional calories to good use and as long as tasty treats such as mince pies, gingerbread men, etc., are just that; a treat, then you shouldn’t see any (too much) weight gain. Once again, imagine the pleasure of leading your paunchier pals over the finish line – thankful for those extra miles you put in while they were cramming their faceholes with turkey and cake.

Get fit, stay fit

This is the most obvious one. We’ve probably all had a year when we failed to maintain a regular cycling routine for a period of time, for whatever reason. We all know what is lost in terms of fitness in this time. We also know what it takes to get up to the same level as before is a bit of an Alpe d’Huez; AKA, ‘a long uphill struggle’.

If you’re struggling for motivation then think how much fun it’ll be dropping all your regular riding buddies on the climbs at the start of next season. Or even better, remember the Sufferfest motto, “I Will Beat My Ass Today, So I Can Kick Yours Tomorrow.”

The five Ps!

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. For the pros winter is when Grand Tour campaigns really begin. It’s when all the hard and focussed training takes place to prepare for the following season.

After the last race of the season, pro cyclists typically spend about a month on what’s referred to as ’off-season’ when they will invariably take a break from the bike, go on holiday and eat unfair amounts of guilt-free unhealthy food. After this well-earned break has passed though, it’s back to target-setting, long-training days and number-crunching data.

Two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome has recently spoken about the nature of preparing for a Grand Tour assault, describing the eight months between November and July as time in which to live a very full-on lifestyle bent solely on getting into tip-top condition for the start line (in Normandy on July 2nd, 2016).

Most of us amateurs have no aspirations of racing, but we can all benefit from building a base for the following spring and summer. Perhaps you are building towards a mid-season trip to take on some Alpine climbs, or improve on your time in a 100-mile sportive. Take a leaf out of the pro book and start preparing now.

Hit the target

Fewer daylight hours mean there is less time to be productive. If you want to be a better rider next year, the winter months are where you can work towards specific targets – better technique, greater efficiency on ascents, better cadence – with greater focus.

The best way to do this is to break down your main objectives into smaller more palatable targets. This way they are far more likely to be achievable and see you becoming a better cyclist by the time the thermometer unfreezes itself and the mercury begins to rise again.

Blitz spirit

Any ride is easier when shared with others, and nothing is more true of winter riding. They say that you save 20-30% of your energy when riding in a group, which is always much appreciated on long, wet and windy rides. And when you get home, you can pat each other on the back, sharing in the adventure you’ve had together over mince pies and brandy butter!

Smugness

Never underestimate how fun it is to be smug. Drawing open the curtains to see horizontal rain in a desaturated world conjures up doubts in even the toughest cyclists. But with a belly full of porridge and coffee, layered up in lycra – even if you only manage 20 minutes in the cold – you have ample reason to feel smug on your return. You will feel good about yourself, you will collect ‘Hero points’ from other cyclists, and family and friends will look on in awe, jealous that you are single-handedly winning the Battle of the (Christmas) Bulge.

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