• Keith Houghton

The Winter blues; how to stay motivated to ride your bike

Updated: Mar 18


Riding in Winter
Riding in Winter

As I write this, I feel the despair that is instilled in so many cyclists during January. You’ve had all the fun of Christmas and New Year, now it’s January and you keep thinking ‘I need to get out on my bike’. It can be so hard to summon up the energy to do anything outside with the cold, dark nights and rubbish weather, not to mention the state of the roads. Although you know that you should do it, you always seem to find an excuse not to; at least, that's what I do.


Leaving the warm cosy house in the colder months can be tough. Just getting all your clothes on seems to feel like hard work and just too much effort. The days are shorter, the nights are longer and the temperatures have plummeted. You look out of the window through the murk and think nah, maybe tomorrow. The idea of exercising and getting rid of the Christmas excesses seems like a distant pipedream. But it doesn't have to be, all you need is a little bit of effort, some planning, and of course the right clothing.


riding a bike on a cold day
riding a bike on a cold day

Cycling in the Winter doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, it can be enjoyable and there are some great reasons to put the effort in and get out there.


First, and probably most obvious, it will keep you fit and healthy, or at least help to get rid of the Christmas excesses. This may not be the main reason why you want to get out on your bike, but it is a good side-effect. The more regularly you cycle the fitter and healthier you will be. Cycling raises your metabolic rate in general, not just when you are riding, which can help keep weight off. After the excesses of Christmas and the effects of growing older, this can be very helpful! You do feel much better after being out on a ride and I find that Winter rides can give you an even better feeling than Summer ones. It’s a sense of achievement, a feeling you have done something rather than sit on the sofa watching football.


Cycling is also good for your mental health and general wellbeing. I find it a great way to de-stress and relax. It helps me clear my mind and forget about other things that might be stressing me or occupying my headspace including the stresses of running a bike shop. Just being outside in the fresh air makes me feel better. There is also a lot of scientific evidence that shows exercise increases mental alertness and boosts your energy levels, you can’t beat a good hit of endorphins!


It is so easy to get into a rut and never go out, always thinking of reasons not to go out rather than focusing on the reasons to get out. The age old half empty versus half full way of thinking. I am just the same, but once I am out I wonder what the problem was and why I didn’t get out sooner and more often! Next time you can’t be bothered, just think about how much you enjoyed your last ride.


There are also a few things I find that help me motivate myself to get out on the bike, they might also help you too.


riding a bike with friends
riding a bike with friends

The simplest thing is to cycle with a friend, agree to meet up and go out together. Once you have arranged a ride with someone else it’s much harder to back out and not go. Also think about joining a club or find a group of riders you can go out with. If they organise regular rides it gives you a reason to get out on your bike regardless of the weather. Plus it is fun riding and chatting with others, the time flies by plus you can always sit on someone’s wheel and take it easy (and hopefully they have mudguards).


Another thing I find helps to motivate me is to try a new route, or even try a new type of riding such as going off road. Variety is the spice of life. Planning a new route gives me a chance to ride on new roads or visit new locations. It can also give you a chance to visit a new café. A real motivation to get out can be the thought of a nice coffee and a slice of cake at some new café I have not visited before. Think about the reward at the end of the ride. We have posted some routes on our website and will keep posting more. If you have a favourite route you want to share let us know and we will put it on there too.


Another thing to consider when thinking about reasons to use the bike is that cycling can also save you some money (depending on how many bikes you want). It is cheaper than driving and healthier than getting the bus! It may be tempting to jump in the car when the weather takes a turn for the worse but think about getting out on the bike. With the money you save you could get that upgrade to your bike that you have been thinking about.


winter clothing for bike riding
winter clothing for bike riding

One of the really important things to consider if you want to get out in the Winter is to ensure you have the right clothes. As many people say, there isn't such a thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. I might also like to point people to rule #5 (https://www.velominati.com) but that might be for another blog. But in truth, going out in the wrong clothes can be miserable; cold hands or cold feet can take all the enjoyment away. It makes all the difference and is worthwhile investing in the right clothes if you want to get out. A few of my mates now have heated socks!


So in summary, next time you keep thinking of reasons not to go out, just think of the reasons why you should get out, and do it, get out! Post some pictures of your rides on our Facebook page, we would love to see them. If you have enjoyed this blog please share on your social media using the relevant logos below.


Enjoy January (and February), all the best Keith


PS. see you on our First Sunday rides starting in April




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