Surviving winter
as an amateur cyclist

Buying a road bike in November might sound like a bad idea in the first place. In addition to that the bike industry currently has an issue or two. Since I had been saving for a new road bike around six months of doing shitty student jobs, I decided to pull the trigger.

My perspective on riding through winter has always been the following: It’s always cold and dark

  1. I need to clean my bike
  2. I’m scared of riding in the dark
  3. I NEED to clean my bike to ride in NASTY weather conditions

In hindsight that hasn’t been the best way of looking at it. But since I had bought my new whip I felt like I had to do it and go out there and get some kilometres/miles in.

So I did the shakedown ride, got the first metric century in and even went for a ride when it was almost pitch black outside. (pitch black might be slightly exaggerated since Belgium is one of the most well lit countries in Europe)

Anyway the bike felt great, and the morale was pretty high during November. But then the festive days showed up and together with my last ever exams, it was quite hard to find time to ride. Safe to say the stoke was still there, but it was kind of impossible to ride.

Once I finished my exams I felt like the classic “new year’s resolution cyclist”, the guy that goes out again and wants to shred weight and look better. To me it was more about getting fit again to be able to do some nice fixed crits, road and gravel races for the upcoming year. “Spoiler alert” Cluff is gonna do quite a few events in 2022.

But how did I actually “survive” the winter? Well in all honesty, I couldn’t have ridden more in the first two weeks of January, but I had already done more hours than the last few years. Going out for one hour rides in the cold is hard but definitely worth it given that I feel somewhat fit now in march. 

Apart from the small rides and a few bigger ones I tried something I thought I’d never do.
I went to a zwift bar. (yes you read that correct). It was a cold week in January close to Black Friday and this gym kinda thing opened close to where I live. I saw an opportunity to try and ride a little in the evening and so I did. Now I must say, it was a very uncanny experience and I’m not sure if I would like it more in the comfort of my own home, but hey I did get on the bike for a solid two hours. My crack and sack hurted like a bitch from being stationary on the bike and I saw my maximum watts and thought “oh well”. 

Fast forward to the end of January and February. Doing a few base miles and the fact that I kept on riding for a bit, does make me feel slightly better than past years and I think it’s a good start to begin more specific interval sessions for crits. Next to that I’m gonna try to find more time to do big rides with the boys in order to finish a few big gravel events such as the Traka, Iron Gravel and Grinduro.

A few tips for the amateur cyclist that wants to stay relatively fit from a guy that doesn’t know a lot about sport science.

  1. Try to do a few small rides in winter
  2. Try to do a few big rides in winter
  3. If you like to ride inside, you’re probably faster than me
  4. Don’t forget to ride with your friends and share the pain of riding through cold weather.

Cheers, catch you in the next one!