Winter is the hardest time to find motivation to get out and ride your bike. It's cold, it's wet and it's grim. Use these tips to get you out of the door.
That’s not to say winter riding isn’t fun though. The trails are much quieter and there’s nothing better than sliding round the woods with your mates on a crisp, sunny day – the only problem is getting out there in the first place. Don’t let the weather get you down!
Here are our top tips to stay motivated this winter (yes, we know it’s not technically winter yet)…
1. Ride somewhere new
If you just ride the same route week in, week out it can quickly wear you down, especially as it will be in worse condition than summer. One of the great things about mountain biking though is that it allows you to explore trails the length and breadth of the country. Why not head out on a natural epic, ride a new trail centre or test yourself in a bike park? You don’t even have to travel far, there could well be trails in your local area that you’ve never explored. The sense of adventure will keep you riding for months.
2. Make sure your kit is right
Alfred Wainwright, the hiking legend, once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing,” and there’s nowhere this rings more true than in mountain biking. If you don’t have the right kit then riding in winter can be miserable. You’ll end up cold, soaked to the skin and your ride itself will be slow and out of control. Make sure you have the best mountain bike mud tyres, best mountain bike mudguards and best waterproof mountain bike jackets, best mountain bike trousers and so on to keep your rides a lot more fun.
3. Treat yourself
Sometimes a little reward can be more than enough motivation to get out on a ride. If your bike has lost its summer lustre then a cheeky little upgrade will keep it looking fresh and should have you eager to test out your new kit. Alternatively if you are really struggling to get out on a ride promise yourself something nice after. It may be something as small as an extra slice of cake or a cheeky drink but it will feel all the sweeter knowing you’ve earned it on the bike.
4. Organise a ride with friends
It’s easy to make excuses for yourself but it is so much harder to let down a bunch of your friends. If you’re really struggling to get out on a solo ride then arrange to go riding with other people at a specific time and place. The fear of being known as the flaky one in your group should be enough to get you to show up… even if it is a little bit late.
5. Set yourself a goal
There are currently so many great events in the world of mountain biking that you’d be mad not to enter one. Best of all, if you get that application form in now you can use it as motivation to ride over the winter. The fear of failure is a great motivator and if you don’t put in the hard work over winter then you can guarantee you won’t do as well as you hoped at any event you enter.
6. Break down the ride in your head
If you look at a whole ride as one chunk of time it can be a daunting prospect and you’ll tend to focus on the negatives such as the weather and having to clean your bike at the end. Instead break down the ride into smaller segments and focus on the positives such as getting out of a stuffy house and enjoying shredding the downhills. In most cases the first five minutes of the ride of the hardest, if you get past this you can enjoy the smile miles for the rest of the ride.
7. Concentrate on becoming a better rider
Winter riding is hard – the mud saps your speed and the wet ground leaves you scrabbling for grip – but every time you slide off the trail flat on your bum just remember you’re becoming a better rider. Winter riding teaches you to let the bike move under you and forces you focus on line choice and reading a trail. If you persevere through the winter months you’ll really notice the difference when summer comes around again.
8. Book a holiday*
If you’re really struggling to get excited for British conditions then there’s plenty of riding on the continent that provides year-round dryness. Many professionals spend their winters in Spain, Portugal or even New Zealand shredding the dry winter trails that are on offer. Some quality time away with your bike should remind you just how much you love riding it and keep you shredding until spring.
*That said, Covid can complicate travel, so maybe save the holiday escape plan for 2022.
9. Change your bike setup
This doesn’t have to involve spending any money (although having a set of winter tyres is an extremely good idea in our experience) it can simply be more about adjusting how your bike is set up. How to tweak will depend a lot on the terrain where you ride. If you’re going to encounter a lot of roots and slippery rock, dial off some rebound and let a few psi out of your tyres. The idea being to achieve extra small bump sensitivity and pitter-patter traction. If you trails are more all-out mud then we’d try the opposite adjustments; turn up the damping and the tyre pressures. The idea being to firm up the bike to sharpen up the bike’s response and efficiency.
10. Don’t ride your normal ride
All of the above points can be essentially be boiled down into this tenth tip. You just need to do something different to where/how/what/why you usually do on your weekend ride.