The weather outside is frightful, as the man once sang. Snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures aren’t the best conditions to be out cycling, so a lot of us are stuck indoors, noses pressed against the window waiting for the big thaw.
All is not lost. Although it probably feels like your fitness is ebbing away with every extra chocolate digestive that you consume to keep your spirits up (be honest, now) there are plenty of things to keep you fit and getting ready for the cycling year ahead
Indoor cycling sessions
Let’s get this one out of the way first. If you can’t cycle outside then the obvious thing to do is cycle inside. Although the turbo trainer or rollers are often viewed as an instrument of torture that can simultaneously and miraculously make time stand still, it’s hard to beat to keep your fitness levels up.
We’ve put together a set of turbo sessions to help you put some variety into your indoor training.
Put on some uplifting music, or do as I do and catch up with some of your missed TV shows on iPlayer on a laptop next to you. At an hour each, David Attenborough’s Africa series is a good length and you can keep your brain active whilst your legs are spinning.
If solo turbo sessions aren’t your thing, then link up with riding friends, club-mates or down the gym. Organised spinning classes and cycling club group turbo sessions are also good to keep the boredom at bay.
Plan your cycling year
Now is a good time to set up your first targets of the year, whatever they may be. Booking up your first sportive or race of the year is a big incentive to work out a bit of structure to your cycling. Or if you’re aiming for weight loss, put a date on when you’re going to lose those first couple of pounds.
We’ve got a comprehensive online calendar of 2013 cyclo-sportives listing hundreds of events around the UK. Plus, we’ve also got a series of seven Cycling Weekly sportives this year – maybe we’ll see you there?
Grab a bargain
With Christmas out of the way, and new 2013 stock making its way into the shops, there’s no better time to grab a cycling bargain. Your local bike shop and specialist online retailers may hold that stunning deal that you’ve been waiting for for a new bike, clothing or accessories.
Every week, we round up a load of deals on cycling equipment in our Deals of the Week section making it easy to locate some proper bargains.
Also watch out for some of the online megastores as they wage a price war, they often have discount codes to reduce the price of your basket above a certain threshold.
Sort out your bike(s)
If you did manage to get out riding before the snow struck, chances are that your bike is in a bit of a state. If your chain is the colour of liquorice and squeaking like a bag of rats then it probably needs a bit of attention.
Give your steed a badly-needed service and it will thank you for the attention by being more mechanically efficient, saving you a bit of muscle power when the weather turns for the better.
Now is also a good time to finally get around to fixing the seven or eight punctured inner tubes you have in a drawer in the garage, sorting out the box of worn-out bits you keep ‘just in case’ and locating all eight of the allen keys that you can never find when you need them.
Look forward to the racing year
Last season, British riders dominated professional cycling and this year looks set to continue that success with Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas opening Britain’s victory account very early with wins in the Tour de San Luis and Tour Down Under.
If the momentum continues, we could see Brits taking victories in the spring classics, Grand Tours and more. All the major, WorldTour races are listed in our 2013 calendar. We’ve also got details of all the stages of the 2013 Giro d’Italia in May and the Tour de France in July.
You can use this fallow period in your riding to gen up on the 2013 races, picking out the key events and using the stickers we gave away with last week’s Cycling Weekly magazine to highlight them on your calendar. It doesn’t matter if you stick them over the note that says ‘Aunt June’s 65th birthday’. She’ll understand if you forget to send her a card because you’re watching Paris-Roubaix. Probably.
If you’re bored of looking out of the window at all the snow, give yourself some inspiration looking at photos of riders in the sun – we’ve been posting up daily galleries of the pro’s in action in the Tour Down Under.
There are also quite a few of you who have braved the elements to go out for a slippery spin along the local lanes. We asked you to send in your snowy riding pics and were surprised how many of you had gone out. Take a look at the Cycling in the Snow gallery.
If you like your pictures to be moving ones, take a look at our pick of 2012′s best cycling YouTube videos for a bit of entertainment value. Just don’t try and emulate trials king Martyn Ashton around your living room furniture.
One way to get away from the grip of a British winter is to literally get away from Britain. Booking a bit of winter sun for you and your bike is an easy task, and many summer resorts have plenty of space and quiet roads in the off-season.
We recently took a trip to the Spanish island of Tenerife to get some winter sun, and put together an article on how and why we did it.