Updated: Sep 27, 2020
In this article I troll the different variations of cyclists who come into their own during the winter months. Some of my thoughts and tips on how to stay cozy during the winter months. But you're meant to be a relentless hardman' whispers your conscious mind.
In Ireland, there are two types of winter road cyclists. The cyclist who would ride through a snow-shower in short sleeves and shorts, somehow not feeling any cold whatsoever. This one we call 'The Ape'. On the other hand you have the cyclist who, during a race (more specifically The Tour of Ulster) leaves his bike at the top of a mountain the moment the temperature drops below 5 degrees, climbs into a random van following the race and then realises no one put the bike in the van. Thus, losing his bike. This cyclist we call, Me ...Graham.
Now, don't jump to conclusions...I am in fact not as soft as it sounds. Any man or 'ape' who raced the 2015 Tour Of Ulster fondly remembers the scenes at the top of 'Spelga Dam'. Race Neutralised due to the snow and icy roads, grown working men crying (literally) on the side of a mountain because their hands were almost 'frostbit' as they say in the north. A race for the ages, the ice age. I had just returned home from racing in 25-30 degree heat in France the week before beginning this race. Is that an excuse? Yes.
The Beginning - (October - December)
A period of the year when the ego's are left behind, the measuring tape reluctantly put back on the shelf ..now time to get stuck into some social weekend club rides and enjoy riding in zone 2. The leg warmers come out ...wait no, they've already been out since mid-July if you live in Ireland. What does come out however is 'The Ape'... the guy in the club ride who fears and feels no rain or cold whatsoever. A Sean Kelly in disguise. This type of cyclist is a legend, I often thought about trying to ride in short sleeves and shorts in the midst of a cold December morning. That's all, just a thought and all it ever will be.
Once you put the racing wheels away and take out your 5kg set of training wheels, the mind instantly switches to the 'I don't need to ride hard for another 4 months' mode. Once easily able to roll along at 40km/h, you set your new limit at 30 km/h because your trusty training wheels can't possibly roll any faster as years and years of wet weather has turned the hubs into something similar to a tin of heinz beans.
Yes, the beginning of winter training is somewhat exciting. Riding in the cold, chatting to your clubmates and last but not least ... taking out the F*%king turbo. In recent years the turbo has become less dreaded, as zwift has taken the world of indoor training to a whole new level.
I recently began using Zwift as my college has gone into lockdown and my lectures gone online. With numerous 1 hour breaks throughout the day, what better way than to hop on the turbo within a minute of finishing a lecture and torture myself with either a race or a nice short & sharp training session. I did my first zwift race 2 days ago and I absolutely loved it. Something I never thought I'd say. Maybe I need to take out the measuring tape as soon as I've put it away.
This is the beginning, the time when we all start back into training for 'next year'. A goal should be set, something to motivate you on those cold early mornings. This is the start of the Winter Training blogs, where I will share my stories and some tips for the rest of winter. Stay Tuned!