With the nights drawing in and the weather growing ever more grim, it can be difficult to maintain the same levels of motivation that we kept up in recent months. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that our motivation levels drop in the winter as we want to stay warm and prevent ourselves from developing any seasonal illnesses, not to mention the effects that reduced vitamin D, serotonin and melatonin levels, etc. can have on our physical and mental health.
In this piece we’ll be looking at just a few of the ways that you can stay motivated in winter, including how to keep yourself warm, what food to take with you on your winter rides, why the turbo trainer can be your best friend, and more.
Wrapping up warm
For many people the shift into winter can bring about a rather sudden change in temperatures, which is especially true this year given the heat that we experienced throughout the summer and autumn months. Now that the cold weather has begun to hit, it’s time to drag the heavy-duty attire out of the wardrobe.
Staying warm can be one of the most influential on-the-bike ways of keeping yourself motivated in winter because when humans feel cold we tend to shrink into uncomfortable positions in order to conserve energy. If this happens while out on the bike it can lead to a number of problems that could far outlast the discomfort of a short winter bike ride.
By piling on the layers, you keep your core warm as well as your digits (often the coldest part of your body), ensuring a more consistent and efficient position throughout the ride, just like any warm-weather outing only with more clothes. The goal is essentially to keep the cold from impacting your ride any more than it has to, and maintain your inclination to get out there on particularly cold days.
View this post on Instagram
Getting on the Turbo Trainer
Another great way to keep yourself motivated in the winter is to get the turbo trainer out for a spot of indoor riding. In the past, these kinds of trainer were seen as a tedious means of augmenting your winter cycling regime that couldn’t give you the same experience as a regular ride could, and while this will always be true to some extent, indoor training is now almost a discipline in its own right – there’s even a world championship title to win – and a really fun way to keep motivated.
Virtual platforms such as Zwift have unlocked the key to getting people onto their bikes – those who may not want to venture out into the cold – by essentially gamifying cycling, enabling its users to compete against other cyclists from around the world. It’s not overstating it to suggest that the likes of Zwift have breathed new life into a previously monotonous way of cycling.
A key reason that indoor riding is great for motivation is that you can do it whenever you want once the initial setup is complete. This means that if you crave those early morning or evening riders in the summer that just aren’t an option in the winter, you can maintain this routine. And maintaining a routine is in itself a great way of keeping yourself motivated on and off the bike.
View this post on Instagram
Taking warm food with you
We’ve all been there, out on a freezing cold winter’s day with nothing to eat but our energy bars or gels, and it can be pretty demoralising to say the least, especially if you’ve been out long enough for the bars to become cold and hard enough to chip teeth! To combat this kind of thing, why not take a flask of hot soup or some tea/coffee to keep yourself motivated before the next café stop.
It really can be the little things that keep us going in the winter, so having that extra boost that comes from knowing that your food or drink will warm you up soon can push you to go that extra mile or punch over the hill that has troubled you for weeks.
There is science behind this point too; many researchers have suggested that having warm food can trigger certain psychological and physiological responses in our bodies when consumed. And foods that we love can supposedly make us feel happier and more motivated to earn them as we work – this can be linked to cycling for sure!
Going out in the middle of the day
Some of us really don’t like to go out for a ride in the dark and this is perfectly understandable as certain risks do increase when the sun hasn’t come out yet. This can cause people that have early morning routines to feel a bit demotivated come the evening after a hard day of work.
Probably the best way to combat this feeling is simply to go for a ride in the middle of the day, when the winter sun is still shining brightly, and the temperatures aren’t quite as bitter. Of course this doesn’t work for everyone, but if you can make it work just once during the week or over the weekend, you’ll feel the indescribable joy that only comes from pedalling your bike in fresh air, however long or short the ride.
It can be hard breaking routines though, so if you can’t bring yourself to change it up, or work doesn’t allow it, then consider our earlier point surrounding turbo trainers.
Setting new goals for 2023
The final method for staying motivated this winter is arguably the most effective of them all, especially for those who like to take cycling a little more seriously. With the road season over for the year, it can often feel like you have nothing to aim for during the winter months, which causes motivation levels to drop off precipitously.
To counteract this, try and set yourself some new objectives for 2023. These can range from increasing your overall kilometre count for the year or going out and competing in a particular sportive you’ve always had your eye on. For those of you considering taking part in a major event for the first time next season, you are going to need to train for it, and what better time to get the jump on your rivals than in the months they might also be struggling for motivation?
Giving yourself something to aim for is an effective way of staying motivated in life as well as in cycling because we all like to have something to look forward to in the bleakest parts of the year. Perhaps plan a holiday, whether cycling specific or not; doing your research and working out an itinerary is half the fun. And when all the planning is done, you can begin a countdown to your flight!
There is no denying that it is going to get tough this winter for a whole host of reasons that I won’t get into today, but cycling can be a great form of escapism so keeping yourself motivated to ride is vital. If you are continuing to get out on the bike this winter, make sure you’re covered with Yellow Jersey bicycle insurance in case of any winter-related mishaps that may occur.