16 ways to stay motivated through autumn and winter

As Featured on Cycling Weekly October 13, 2016

As a chilly breeze replaces the warm summer air, the inclination to ride naturally begins to ebb. Vicky Ware lists 16 ways to approach autumn and winter with more enthusiasm

Depending how you organise your cycling year, autumn is either a welcome part of your season when you have some fun with your fitness, taking part in cyclocross races and spirited weekend rides with friends, or it’s a time when your motivation dips and your training begins to tail off as you lament the falling temperatures.

In the latter case, the risk is you’ll have a lot of catching up to do come spring. So how to stay motivated to keep riding?

Of course, it’s important to take an end-of-season break; choosing when best to do so depends on how you feel and how your racing schedule panned out.

Most cyclists benefit from taking around a fortnight off with no riding at all, but it is important to listen to your body.

By the end of your time off, you should feel re-motivated and raring to ride. Still need a little extra incentive? Here are 16 motivating ideas to help you ensure that the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” does indeed bear fruit.

1. You’ll stay stronger and healthier

Living in Britain, we are exposed to limited sunlight — the reason why UK public health advice is that we should all take vitamin D supplements from October to early March, when we’re not soaking up enough UVB rays to allow the body to produce sufficient vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, as it allows calcium to be absorbed into the body, but it’s also required for muscle health and mental health.

Vitamin D is also strongly associated with changes in the immune system and, in turn, inflammation. Getting out in the sunlight during autumn will ensure you get a good dose of vitamin D.

Sunlight also triggers the release of nitric oxide from stores in the skin, a compound shown to boost aerobic performance.

2. Freshen up with a proper break

Take a fortnight off the bike to give your body a break, helping you freshen up physically and psychologically.

As explained in our Essential Guide this is the ideal time to do some light off-the-bike conditioning and cross-training, as well as planning your winter training and next year’s target events.

Don’t worry about losing fitness: the gains will outweigh the minimal losses.

3. Build towards a great winter

Consistency is the ultimate key to achieving your long-term goals, so once you have taken your end-of-season break, return as soon as possible to a structured regime.

Sticking to a training schedule during the autumn, after your break, will make starting winter training much easier. Fitness is lost more quickly than it’s gained, but maintaining is easier than gaining.

You don’t need to spend the autumn months slaving away on the turbo trainer, but trying to maintain a certain number of hours training per week will pay dividends next season.

Luke Rowe, pro cyclist at Team Sky and coach at Rowe and King, explains why week-to-week consistency is important: “Consistency is absolutely key — for most riders, doing four 90min sessions during a week is far better than one big six-hour day at the weekend.”

The same is true for your yearly training cycle: you’re better off riding close to your average weekly training hours each week rather than yo-yoing between massive hours in August and none in January.

4. Catch up with club-mates

Get out for a ride with your club-mates. Photo: Jesse Wild

Autumn is a great time to go out riding with friends without worrying so much about sticking strictly to training zones or completing arduous, intense sessions.

Therefore, it’s also a good time of year to catch up with club-mates and friends who may be at different levels of fitness — for now, it doesn’t matter.

Spinning through leafy lanes while catching up with like-minded riders provides a refreshing change from gritting your teeth in relentless sessions.

5. Ride an event just for fun

The pressure you heap on yourself during the season can take its toll. Once autumn rolls around, the remaining races can be ridden just for fun.

Paradoxically, not caring how you do in an event often leads to a better performance on the day. Easing back on pressure and expectations can prove productive in training — try to avoid riding out of a sense of obligation, and remember the main aim: enjoyment.

Why not try a different type of event such as the mixed-terrain Lakeland Monster Miles on October 16 or off-road Wiggle Hill-a-Saurus on November 12.

6. Reap the benefits of cyclocross

Cyclocross is arguably the most fun you can have on two wheels, and can provide a potent boost to your fitness, as well as improving your bike-handling skills at the same time.

Races are held all over the country, and most don’t start very early in the morning, so they’re wholly accessible and family-friendly.

Find details of your local league at:

7. Sharpen your top-end by hill-climbing

If you like your bike racing short and sharp, hill-climbs can’t be beaten — courses are typically two to four minutes long, often lined by cheering crowds.

The miles you have accrued over the summer should see you through such a short effort, and if you want to prepare specifically, it’s a very time-efficient discipline: a weekly session involving four to eight bursts of two to three minutes at maximal effort, ideally on an uphill slope, will soon have you in race-sharp condition.

Rowe explains: “For motivation, hill-climbs at this time of year are a good idea. However working on top-end speed work in the autumn won’t be of much benefit come spring when the road racing starts.”

Rather than thinking of this as training for next season, use it to maintain fitness you’ve already built.

Hill-climbing is great spectator sport, too.

Observe a master-class in how to handle pain by watching others put themselves through some exquisite suffering at the RTTC National Hill-Climb Championship in Matlock, Derbyshire, on October 30.

8. Try some new training techniques

During the season, it can be difficult to train optimally while also fitting in regular races. You don’t want to be tired for races, so you’re never training as hard as you could be.

During the autumn, there is no such conflict. You’re free to train however you like. Ever wondered whether doing less volume with greater focus may lead to better or equal results to your current training? Or whether cutting down on Zone 2 pace riding could maintain your fitness?

Now is the time to trial these ideas and find out how they affect  your performance.

Autumn is a really great time to start incorporating weight training into your weekly schedule. Free weights are best for all-round conditioning, but using them safely may require some tuition initially.

Getting used to using weights is the most difficult part, not only because you’ve got to muster the motivation to go to a gym and learn how to lift weights safely, but also because of the inevitable delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

First-time weight training can leave you aching, which can have an impact on your cycling. But it may be worth the effort, as weight training can pay dividends by addressing muscle imbalances, such as quads being too strong relative to glutes, thereby improving your resilience against injury.

Time trial champion turned coach Matt Bottrill believes that variety in training is vital to success. “Just as you would never eat the same food every day and expect to enjoy it, the same is true of training. Keep it varied while focusing on progression.”

Autumn is a time to reflect on the summer and set new goals, advises Bottrill: “Motivation is about having a clear goal and then working backwards from that goal. If this season didn’t pan out the way you wanted it to, don’t go back to training the same way again for next season.”

This time of year may also be a good time to get physiologically tested — but once is not enough, argues Bottrill: “Testing should be carried out throughout the season — I’m still amazed by the number of riders who do one VO2 max test then train with the same zones all year. Retesting should be done every six weeks, especially through the winter months, to make sure you’re progressing at the correct rate.”

9. There’s time to ride for riding’s sake

Rather than sticking to a certain prescribed power output or heart rate, re-discover the joy of riding your bike unencumbered by data.

Leave the heart rate monitor and power meter at home and ride ‘to feel’ rather than by numerical metrics. Even if you love hard training, going for some aimless pleasure rides in autumn  can have a powerful effect on your motivation.

10. Form some go-faster habits

Forming habits is the surest way to achieve long-term goals. Rather than focusing on riding a 10-mile TT two minutes faster next summer, focus on riding your bike six days a week between now and then. Get into the habit and it becomes second nature, no longer feeling like a chore — requiring little or no motivation.

Research has shown that breaking from a habit once can be enough to undermine it. If you ride your bike throughout the autumn, at the same time each day (e.g. after work), you’ll find it easier to continue doing so.

Break from a habit during the winter and the magnetic tug of the warm, cosy indoors may get the better of you — not to mention the bad habits that could tempt you, such as increased snacking and boozing.

11. Do an overnighter

Make the most of the remaining few weekends of decent weather by organising a mini touring adventure over two or three days. This is a great way to maintain fitness while doing a different type of riding while exploring new areas.

Recruit a club-mate or two, and together plan a longer-than-usual loop, with an overnight stay somewhere near the halfway point.

This is a novel way to sneak in some base training miles with the added bonus
of feeling like you’re on an adventure.

12. Get ready for winter

Are your lights charged and winter tyres fitted? Is your warm, waterproof kit still in serviceable condition, or does it need an upgrade?Perhaps you’ve finally earned those new overshoes you promised yourself two seasons ago?

Autumn is the time to make sure that you’re ready to take on winter and keep riding in as much comfort as possible.

Sorting out everything now means you won’t be rushed or stressed once the cold season proper arrives.

13. Avoid the off-season blues

Cycling makes us feel brighter, that barely needs scientific support. Nonetheless, studies show that exercise is beneficial to people suffering from mild to moderate episodes of depression.

Although the exact reasons for this link aren’t clear, it’s probable a number of factors come into play. One possible reason is that inflammation — associated with depression — is reduced by moderate exercise. Exercise also takes you outdoors, encourages you to socialise with others, and get fresh air and sunlight.

14. Ride a new route

It’s easy to fall into a rut and keep riding the same loops again and again during the season, and in some ways this is helpful for training accuracy. But this can lead to boredom in training and a lack of motivation.

During autumn, spend some time exploring new roads in your area and add some new regular loops to your evening and weekend repertoire.

This will not only add some spice to your autumn riding time, but will help keep motivation high over the winter.

If you’re less fit than usual right now, riding new routes also takes the pressure off.

15. Make the most of the daylight

The clocks go back by one hour on October 30, meaning we’ll have to deal with dark evenings until the end of March. And, come mid-winter, it’ll be dark by 4pm — eugh!

16. Seek out new Strava targets

With summer racing behind you and a winter of training ahead, autumn is the perfect time to hunt down some new Strava segments to aim for next season.

The pressure is off at this time of year so you can recce segments without feeling as though you need to ride your fastest time, while making note of the start and finish lines of the segment and mulling over the pace you’ll need to ride to bag the KoM or make it into the top 10.

By tracking your progress over a segment, you can ascertain a good sense of your fitness.

‘Mental factor’ prompts Tony Martin’s return to old TT position ahead of World Champs

Gregor Brown October 7, 2016

Cycling Weekly

Triple time trial world champion Tony Martin says that poor performances have made his revert to his old bike position ahead of the 2016 World Championships in Qatar

German Tony Martin returned to his former time trial position for the UCI 2016 Road World Championships  in Doha, Qatar, after struggling with a new aerodynamic setup. He says, it he is partly gaining a mental edge riding as he did when he won his three time trial titles.

Martin lost 3-18 minutes to Swiss gold medallist Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics time trial. Something had to change.

“I know that I am three times already become world champion in this position, it’s also a mental factor for me,” Martin told Radsport News. “So, it can not be that bad. Next year, we can see if we take smaller steps for better aerodynamics.”

Martin won the Worlds time trial in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He placed second to Bradley Wiggins in 2014. Last year, he struggled and placed seventh, his worst performance since he finished in the same spot in the 2008 worlds.

The Olympic beating in August, where he finished 12th at 3-18, forced him to make some changes. Already, the “comfort factor” of his former position made difference with the Tour of Britain time trial win.

“The changes have been serious. I had my hands very high up and my elbows low down, but that wasn’t for me,” he added. “Now, I feel much more comfortable again. One has to accept that the aerodynamics are not everything, but the comfort factor plays a very, very important role. If your body does not work well, then whole aerodynamics thing means nothing.”

Martin believes he lost around five to 10 per cent of his power in the aero position that he adopted in 2015. He added, “The position was not bad, but I just could not get used to it.”

He is one of the most successful time trial cyclists of this generation with Cancellara and Wiggins. If he wins again this year in Doha he will match Cancellara’s record of four titles.

Seven things to do at the Rouleur Classic

Cycling Weekly September 29, 2016

The Rouleur Classic exhibition is back in November with plenty to see and do and a few famous faces to spot

The Rouleur Classic is now just around the corner, with this year’s event being held at Victoria House in London, on 3rd to 5th November.

The prestigious event will again be attracting some of the most well-known faces in cycling, along with some of the world’s leading brands, who will be bringing the latest and greatest bikes, components, clothing and accessories. This is alongside talks, demonstrations and intimate Q&A’s in the Rouleur Classic Theatre with some of the leading names in both the cycling industry and sport.

As it’s not your ordinary bike show experience, we have put together a guide to what you can see and do at the Rouleur Classic this year.

See the latest bikes

As you would expect, it’s all about the bikes! The world’s leading bike brands will be showcasing a select range of very special bikes exclusively for the event.

Factor bikes, sponsor of UCI Pro Continental Outfit, One Pro Cycling, will not only be ringing highlights from their range, but also will use the show to launch a brand new model designed in collaboration with David Millar. Specialized will be bringing down their S-Works collection which includes their brand new Roubaix and the two bikes ridden to victory by Lizzie Deignan (formerly Armitsted) and Peter Sagan at the 2015 world championships.

Last year Cannondale treated visitors to a specially painted Caad12. This year is no different with a retro themed Cannondale Saeco replica SuperSix on display. This is as well as the latest offering from Cannondale who will have their Super Six Evo on display. Scott, Cervélo, Colnago, Wilier, Storck, Alchemy, Sarto and Kyklos Bikes will all be bringing their latest collections to the show.

Many brands will have their designers, experts and brand ambassadors on hand to answer your burning questions and give you the best possible advice.

See the Stars

Some of the leading names from cycling past and present will be at the show, taking part in discussion, demonstrations and intimate Q&A’s.

The stellar line-up of the sports stars includes; former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, the winner of multiple classics winner Alexander Kristoff, Sean Yates, Graham Obree, Baden Cooke, Viatcheslav ‘Eki’ Ekimov, and Christian Meier. They will be joined by Jason Kenny and Laura Trott, and Joanna Rowsell Shand, fresh from their Olympic success in Rio.

They will be joined by Frank Strack of Velominati, illustrator Martin Procter, and the man who brought the Tour de France to Yorkshire, Sir Gary Verity. All of which will be compared by two of the most reconcilable faces of cycling television coverage in the UK, Ned Boulting and Matt Barbet.

Learn how to cook

Never before has the mantra Ready, Set, Cook! been more appropriate than when it comes to feeding professional cyclists. Much has been written about the theory of how sport nutrition, but what do elite cyclists do when they are on the road? Hannah Grant, team chef for Dimension-Data, will be hosting live cooking demonstrations and Q&A’s, giving you a unique insight into the lives of top riders, and sharing her passion and creativity for food.

Celebrate with Sean Kelly

The much celebrated Irish cyclist, Sean Kelly, will be presenting an exclusive memorabilia collection, telling the story of a stellar racing career. Never before seen outside of his native Ireland, it’s a true treat for any cycling enthusiast.

Containing medals, trophies, jerseys and other memorabilia collected during his illustrious 17-year cycling career, the showcase is set to be a real treasure trove.

Now seen regularly commentating for Eurosport, Sean will be at the event all three days – don’t miss this unique opportunity to talk with a legend of cycling.

Reminisce in Grand style

As cycling fans, we all have our favourite races. Whether it be a battle against the clock of the Tour de France, climbers going head to head as the Giro winds around the Dolomites, or a frantic sprint in the heat the Vuelta.

The Rouleur Classic’s Grand Tour Heritage collection will display the most iconic bikes, clothing and photos that celebrate these famous races – including a showcase of Tour de France bicycles plus a collection of Maglia Rosa jerseys highlighting the history of the Giro. As well as the memorabilia, this year’s event will be visited by the three Grand Tour race directors; Christian Prudhomme (Tour de France), Mauro Vegni (Giro) and Javier Guillen (Vuelta).

The Rouleur Classic 2016 takes place from November 3rd-5th at Victoria House, London. Tickets are available to buy now from

Get Snap Happy!

A picture says a thousand words and can often evoke memories of our favourite cycling days. Bringing some of their favourite cycling images with them at this year’s Rouleur event will be Michael Blann and Scott Mitchell. Blann will be returning with his breathtaking Mountain’s Project – a collection of images documenting the world’s most iconic climbs. Scott Mitchell has been documenting the adventures of Team Sky since their formation in 2010. He will be bringing some of his favourite images from this bank of over 60,000, that he has amassed over the past six years.

Grab a coffee with David Millar

Cyclists love their coffee right? Once you have taken on board everything there is to see at the Rouleur Classic, you are probably going to need a rest. Luckily Maserati have teamed up with the iconic London cycling café Look Mum, No Hands! to bring the Maserati Lounge to this year’s event. As well as salivating over the superb artisan food, and a great range of beers and coffees, the latest Maserati will be on display, and there’s a chance to have a chat with four-times Tour de France stage winner David Millar.

Are the likes of power meters and race radios spoiling the excitement of professional races? We asked Cycling Weekly readers what they thought...

The use of the latest gadgetry in professional cycle races is crushing spontaneity and excitement according to some fans – and some riders too.

Is the use of electronic technology such as power meters and race radios crushing the life out of races? Or are aerodynamics making pro racing an arms race, won by the team with the biggest budget? Or is it simply a case of using the latest developments to enhance racing?

We recently asked Cycling Weekly readers whether they thought that modern technology was ruining bike races. Here are a selection of answers, brought to you in association with Decathlon.

Do you think that modern technology is ruining bike racing? Let us know in the comments section below.

No, cycling is evolving along with technology. If you argue for not using tech products in cycling, I would think that you would want cycling to revert back to what cycling was like when racing was first introduced.
Kyle Chung

The BIG power meter debate: ban them from Grand Tours. It’s killing the racing. We want to see racing, and not 198 cyclists riding according to what a power meter recommends. We want to see GC riders take risks and blow up on big climbs, attacks, counter attacks. We aren’t getting this any more, it’s become too clinical.
John Camp

Bike gadgets should continue to evolve, as should bike design. However, the race between the riders needs to be just that. Too many support cars and oversize teams are leading to too many incidents. And if riders cry like spoilt babies because their puncture wasn’t fixed immediately by daddy or mummy, then they need to grow up.
Edward Woods

One race radio per team, smaller team squads at the major tours, so that stronger teams can’t control the racing as well as they can now. Look how exciting the Olympic road race was (without the crashing, obviously).
Jonathan Pugh

Doull will ride with Team Wiggins despite joining Team Sky as a stagiaire for the remainder of the 2016 season

Olympic team pursuit champions Sir Bradley Wiggins and Owain Doull will both line-up for Team Wiggins in September’s Tour of Britain, race organisers have confirmed.

Doull, who recently signed on with British WorldTour squad Team Sky as a stagiaire for the remainder of the 2016 season before beginning a pro contract next year, will ride with the team that helped him to third place overall in the 2015 edition.

Both Wiggins, winner of the 2013 Tour of Britain, and Doull have recently returned from Rio de Janeiro where they took the gold medal for Great Britain in the team pursuit alongside Ed Clancy and Steven Burke.

They will be joined by world points race champion Jon Dibben in the Wiggins line-up, despite the 22-year-old also signing on as a trainee at WorldTour level, having ridden the Tour of Utah with Cannondale-Drapac at the start of August.

The three remaining riders in the Team Wiggins line-up for the Tour of Britain has yet to be confirmed.

New information service helps you plan cycle and train journeys

Imagine taking your bike on the train to get to that perfect rural ride. There’s a fair bit of planning to do – but where would you start?

The answer is PlusBike – the all-in-one information service for combined cycle and rail journeys that offers an easier way to plan before you set off.

Accessed through the National Rail website and official app, PlusBike provides clear and easy-to-understand guidance on taking bikes on trains, train carriage rules, bike parking at stations and nearby cycle hire as you plan your rail journey.

Get all the information you need ahead of your journey using PlusBike

A quick click on the ‘details’ link next to each train service leads to bespoke information for your trip, taking into account both departure and arrival destinations.

It makes it easy to see if and when you can take your bike on a certain service, the number of cycle parking spaces at the station, or even if you can hire two wheels at either end of your journey.

An initiative from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), PlusBike is designed to make it easier to travel by rail with a bike for the perfect day out – whether your idea of that is a day of Peak District climbs or getting to a race or sportive with ease.

And with as many as 50 million cycle-rail journeys made last year, an increase of 40 per cent in six years, the demand is clearly there.

Get further from home with your bike by taking it on a train

Get further from home with your bike by taking it on a train

Jacqueline Starr, RDG’s customer experience managing director, said: “Record numbers of people are getting on their bikes as part of their rail journeys.

“We have more cycle spaces at stations than ever before, and PlusBike shows people just how easy it is to take your cycle to the station or on the train, which helps cycles play a key part in the customer journey.”

If you are thinking of catching a train with your bike, head to or download the National Rail Enquiries app on the App Store, Google Play or Windows Phone Store.