Most cyclists don’t leap for joy come winter. Well, maybe the slightly crazed ones with an appetite for expensive rainwear do. Unfortunately, their excitement rarely lasts beyond the first ride in that new packable that rolls up into a fist-sized ball, breathes like a hippo with very clear nostrils and doesn't let a drip in - but still fails to rose-tint the sight of the dreary naked hedges.
Despite the displeasure most of us greet winter with, we generally make an effort to keep up the miles: we love cycling and in many cases, we’d suffer separation anxiety if we stayed off the bike for too long.
Though collectively we all deal with winter and you don't see the cycling world disband for a couple of months a year, we all react differently to the change of the seasons. Here’s a look at some of the personalities you might encounter – or recognise within yourself – this wet and windy season...
Whilst some riders simply can’t stand the idea of pedalling indoors, others absolutely lap it up. The turbo tornado (may also be found using rollers, watt bike or spin bikes) has probably already devised a winter training plan and is churning out the 'goal specific sessions' like everyone might be her last.
Threshold intervals, Vo2 max efforts, sprints: this indoor rider has it all covered. Ask her how training is going with caution (unless you want to hear the unabridged version over the course of the next hour). Keep up to date on her adventures, too though – this rider is mega motivated and you can bet on seeing success come the season’s goal events.
Geared Up Girl
This rider’s favourite slogan is as follows, and it's always said with the same knowing smile and slight downward tilt of the head:
‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad kit’. Next in line is ‘skin’s waterproof’.
The Geared Up Girl will ride in any weather - but only if her space suit style cycling onesie (Castelli, we're looking at you!) is washed and ready to go. Top end fabrics and the most innovative technology mean she won't feel the cold or the rain – and no doubt she’ll be trying to rope you in too. It's ok, you can borrow one of last year's innovations. It's 3 percent less breathable, and you might get 2 percent wetter.
This rider has probably been slogging away at a certain cycling discipline all summer. Maybe notching up the miles with a focus on a specific sportive, or racing her way through the season. Now the pressure is off, she’s looking for new ways to enjoy cycling – and she’s found them! Vocally, too! You are probably bored of hearing about how awesome mountain biking/cyclocross/track cycling/BMX is by now if this is your mate.
The new cycling hobby is no doubt a polar opposite to her norm: the roadie will be busy falling over on the trails and your most committed MTB buddy is suddenly pledging allegiance to skinny tyres and lycra. ‘New Hobbyists’ of every original descent can be found slogging it out at cyclocross or on the velodrome.
Trying something new is a great way to find, and address, any weaknesses you have – so if you can’t beat 'em – join 'em and find yourself a new discipline!
She might have cut down on specific 'training' rides, and weekend jaunts - but this rider is making sure she keeps fit with daily commutes. There’s absolutely no need to stop using the bike to get around, just because it’s raining – is what this rider will tell you.
She’s got wet weather, windy weather and cold weather commuting down to a T (and if you haven’t, she’s got advice to get you sorted too!). She’s got a waterproof backpack, mudguards fitted and the very best lights on the market – and as a result, she’ll be saving time, money and getting a stress-busting zen fix at least twice a day. And make sure you know all about it.
For this rider, getting out in the rain, the cold, the grit and the mud is fine – but she absolutely can’t do it on her own. She needs someone to chase, follow, or simply 'lead' [read: drop] up the climbs.
You’ll find this rider signing up to every group or club ride in the calendar – and not only will she be getting the miles in, she’ll also be developing her bunch skills: cornering, drafting and probably pushing through a few pain boundaries and getting stronger on the climbs.
The Perpetual Off-Seasoner
You know how most cyclists take an 'off-season break' at some point after their major events are done and dusted? That's great, it's good to hit 'reset' on your body from time to time. This rider, however, is taking the entire off-season off. Like, from October right through until March - no riding, lots of sofa and cake.
If this rider happens to be particularly naturally gifted on the bike, it's pretty frustrating to see them jump on come spring and smash out some great rides. But it's ok - they won't be improving either, so you can keep up with your slog and smile sweetly, safe in the knowledge you're one more ride closer to beating them!
Struggling to find your own winter riding personality? We're collecting motivational advice to get you riding throughout the colder, wetter season - take a look at the #TWCMotivember series here.