We’re now in the depths of autumn, and with the dark days of winter approaching fast, some of you may be winding down for the off-season and taking a hard-earned break from your two-wheeled pursuits. It may seem like a while away yet, but the new year is just around the corner and with it the new challenges that await. Whatever they may be.
Today, we will be taking a look at just some of the ways you can plan ahead for 2023, including setting personal mileage goals, improving your skills and cycling technique, seeing the world, and taking on some sportives.
Let’s get right to it!
Perhaps the most obvious and arguably most common thing a person can do in preparation for the new season is to set mileage goals. There are a number of reasons why setting specific objectives as to how many miles you spend in the saddle can be beneficial in the long run. For example, if you want to improve your overall endurance levels, you are going to need to put the time and effort into making this happen.
You can break this down into number of miles for the year, or per week. Setting markers at more regular intervals will make the whole challenge easier to take on, whether your goal is to prepare for a big objective later in the year such as a triathlon, sportive or simply for the joy of improvement. The best way to set a mileage goal for the new year is to analyse your riding data from this year, note your level of improvement from the current season and try to match or better it in 2023, without going over the top with an unrealistic target.
By doing the proper preparation you will be able to see how much you improve as the months pass by and alter your goals if you realise you have been too ambitious or not ambitious enough. There are a number of great apps that will be able to help you set and maintain your mileage goals throughout the season such as Strava or Zwift for those of you with an indoor trainer.
Work on your skills
Another objective that can greatly improve your overall cycling ability is to spend some time on a certain technique or discipline within the sport. For example, you might be an excellent sprinter able to leave your club mates in your wake whenever a group sprint comes around, but you struggle to keep up when the route takes you to a particularly steep climb, or vice versa.
You may be wondering how you could plan ahead for this challenge, but in reality the preparation is the easy part. Sticking with the example of becoming a better climber, you would want to plan your routes in advance in order to include plenty of climbs that will give you the chance to test your legs and gradually improve your climbing skills. This won’t be a quick and easy process, but you can make your life a lot easier and more enjoyable if you rope in some friends, and/or set yourself the objective of riding one of the country’s more hilly sportives. Or better still, take your bike overseas.
Seeing the world
While the past two points are specifically related to improving your ability, the next is more of a self-enrichment kind of objective and is certainly something that you should plan well in advance.
There are many great cycling destinations around the world for you and your family to discover. For example, you could go to the wonderful Belgian region of Flanders and take on the famous cobbles of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or head over to Lombardia in Italy and drink in the sights and sounds of the legendary Lake Como.
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As with any kind of holiday or adventure, planning ahead is the key to finding the best deals and the places to stay. At certain points in the year cycling destinations are more popular than others – and some, like the high mountain passes of the Dolomites, Alps and Pyrenees, are only accessible for a few months – especially when a major race is taking place, although this also happens to be the best time to visit. Using the example of a trip to Flanders, you will want to stay a little further afield during the ‘Flemish holy week’ as many of the local hotels will be booked up by teams and fans already. Try looking in Ghent or Bruges is our advice, both brilliant holiday destinations in their own right.
Planning ahead for a holiday means that you won’t face as much stress in trying to find one last minute, likely at hugely inflated prices that will make you think twice about making the trip. Another good reason for planning long in advance is that some may not be aware of local cycling events until nearer the time. With this in mind, always try and book something as soon as possible before the big travel companies and hotels can catch onto what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with being on the ball.
One thing that acts as a bridging point for everything else in this piece is to plan a sportive event, or a whole schedule of them, bringing together all your newly developed skills, endurance from base miles and desire to see the world. Many of the great European sportives take in the exact same routes as pro races like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, but there’s also plenty of choice closer to home, and with a whole range of distances and terrains.
One of the biggest and most prestigious sportive events is L’Étape du Tour which recreates one of the toughest stages of each year’s Tour de France. The 2022 edition was a monster ride from Briançon, up and over the Cols du Galibier and Croix de Fer before finishing on the Alpe d’Huez. That’s 4,700m of elevation gain on three hors-category climbs over 167 kilometres. In short, you’re going to need to be in the condition of your life before you line up!
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The best way to plan for a sportive is to secure your place as early as possible, which may require being on a waiting list similar to buying music or sports tickets, and then being quick to confirm your participation if you get the nod. By knowing you are going to be on the start line well in advance you give yourself the maximum window of preparation.
To properly get yourself ready for this challenge, you are going to need to master a few important things. First things first, start working out what food and drink will suit you best on long rides. To ensure you don’t take a bad turn with the wrong food or supplements on a ride, we’d advise that you undertake this trial and error process on a shorter local ride or on your indoor trainer to avoid unpleasant emergencies.
You are also going to need to everything we mentioned earlier regarding mileage goals and building of your ability on the bike. For instance, if the course is particularly mountainous, you’re going to need to work on your climbing if it’s something you struggle with at the moment.
There we have it, just a small selection of the many ways that you can plan ahead for the 2023 cycling season. Whatever you choose to prepare for, make sure that your bike is covered for accident damage by taking out a Yellow Jersey bicycle insurance policy here. To cover emergency medical expenses, trip cancellation, trip abandonment, repatriation, baggage delay and a whole host of other benefits whilst overseas, you can purchase Yellow Jersey cycling travel insurance here