Winter Blues

Winter. The one season of the year that is beautiful but brutal. You wake up in the dark, go to work and then come home in the dark but could quite easily stumble across a stunning frosty sunrise as you crest the final mile of the commute. It's the time of year where you want to some nice, steady base miles but the wind is probably blowing a gale, or where you want to do the club run but the roads are better suited to synchronised ice-skating.

That often means that getting out on the bike can feel like quite a chore at times. I'll be the first to admit that despite getting out every day in January so far, there are definitely some days where I could more than happily have stayed inside and eaten cake on the sofa. Most people would get on the turbo on these days but personally, I'd rather just not ride at all. I've never engaged with indoor training no matter how many computer programs you throw at it. That's just me though. Despite the wind, rain and cold I'd always rather be outside and have to think of ways to keep myself motivated in order to do so.

January is the busiest time of year for me at work but also the one time of year I know I'm in the office all month so I can get in the miles by commuting. I have to leave the house at 7am when it's pitch black and more recently well below zero degrees. I figure that riding to work covers quite lot of miles for me in the week without much need to plan ahead for what I'll do. I ride my commutes on the singlespeed bike as it's hard work and helps keep me warm. The motivation for doing this through winter? Generally the fact that I can get from my house to the office faster than any car and home again quicker too.

Equally, on a weekend I've been trying to make a conscious effort to do at least one group ride. It's far too easy to want to stay in bed on a weekend and pig out after a long week but by committing to a group ride on a Friday I don't really feel like it's cool to back out on a Saturday morning without a really good excuse. We're into reliability ride season now so it's a bit easier to get out with a group and get in a nicely paced ride without the need to plan a route. These sessions make the time fly a little bit quicker.

The other benefit to getting out with the group is that when it's windy you don't feel like you're constantly getting beaten up by the wind as you can take it in turns with the others in the group to set the pace. I won't lie though, given I'm tired from all the work at the moment I sometimes use it as an excuse to sit in a little bit more than I would ordinarily choose to. Bring on spring, some extra sleep and the summer bike!

One of the other things I'm using to keep me heading outside is goal setting. I've set myself the goal of climbing 1,000,000ft in 12,000 miles this year so I really don't want to fall behind on this and end up doing hill reps all summer. This is a personal goal but there is no reason why anyone couldn't set a slightly tough goal for the winter months to help push them out of the door.

The scenery around Yorkshire also makes it hard to stay inside despite the weather. Just recently it's been really cold but the snow and ice make for a beautiful backdrop to any ride. I admit it's a little bit more dangerous but by picking the right roads and having common sense it's still possible to enjoy a long ride and soak up some of the awesome views on offer. It also gives me a chance to keep practising my photography skills. If it's icy I can also go off-road and take on a sightly different ride to usual which is quite good fun and helps keep me motivated too.

So, with a month left of winter what is everyone else doing to keep motivated in the cold depths of winter?