Monday, 19 December 2011

Don't waste your winter!

Having read a large number of blogs over the past few weeks I have noticed a similar trend from those who's daily grind (lets be fair in the summer its hardly a grind?!!) to work.  This is that the dark mornings and evenings, the cold weather, ice and sometimes snow has started to impact either the enthusiasm or the sheer ability to use their bike to commute.

I have taken the drastic steps myself of getting the train for part of my journey, others I know have parked their pride and joy in garage for a few months in exchange for the car, bus or train.  A few of things may happen when this decision is taken:

1) They start to get lethargic, fat and lazy as they get back into the common trap of using their backside to get to work. For all of who have taken this decision can I suggest you consider 2 things?  Ensure you do something to stimulate your brain, not only does exercise improve your fitness it improves concentration levels but also simulates brain waves.  Cycling more so as you are not only internalising your own thoughts but having to keep sharp eye out for the nutters in cars, vans and trucks!!  Get the scrabble out or do a cross word.  Do something though! - If you don't believe me do nothing and see how different you feel when you take up cycling again in the spring?
If you simply cannot get out on the bike make the efforts to keep your fitness up and train indoors.  Join a gym for 2-3 months, go swimming or get some weights at home.  Personally I suggest doing things you wouldn't usually do.  Work on your core (that’s your abs and lower back muscle), work on your general body strength (especially the legs and upper body) by using weights and most of all spend time working on your flexibility. 

Working on the above during your off season will work wonders to your performance by increasing speed and power and reducing the likelihood of any injuries.  It will also start you in a positive routine for when you do get back on the bike.

2) Watch your stress levels - I find getting in the car aggravates any stress I already have or just adds stress I didn't know I had?  The reduced levels of positive chemicals caused as a result of exercise will have a huge impact on your mental well-being.

3) Make sure you care for your poor bike languishing in the garage.  I suggest giving it a pre-holiday clean and oil.  The mud and grease it will have on it will only aid the onset of rust and damage that may later costs you some serious money or in fact your entire bike.  Add that to the cold and damp in your garage and you are asking for a disaster comes spring.  When you turn the pedals for the first time only to feel the chain snap, the crank seize and the steering block jam. 

There is probably no better time to give the bike a proper loving.  If you have space in the garage of somewhere you can get it on the stand whilst keeping the bike dry then do it.  If you are not using the bike for a few months take the opportunity to slowly strip it down, change the cables, and dismantle the crank and rear set.  Did I know what I was doing? NO!  Do I have a better idea now? Yes!  Does it matter if the bike is in bits for days on end?  Not really, so you can take your time and discover as you work.

Most jobs on a bike are pretty simple with the right tools, and in all fairness the tools are not that expensive when you look online.  Everything you need is on the internet and there is some awesome video's showing you how to do almost everything. 

If you have time, a willingness to learn and the desire to do things yourself have a go.  You will get a much better understanding of your bike and feel a great sense of achievement by personally having done the work that paying someone £75 plus parts to do it for you.  Alternatively get a cycle repair professional to do it for you.  One thing is for sure get it done so your bike survives the winter storage and is ready for the joys of spring and summer.

4) Finally its Christmas time!!  Get friends and family to buy you loads of new gear.  I suggest you guide them in the right direction otherwise Aunt Norris will only go and get you some cheap tat from the local Wal-Mart of Tesco's??  Hey, they may be cheap but in my experience it often means short life span!  I always find leaving cycle magazines folded on the kit pages tends to lend a hand (it’s a woman’s trick, but as all men know, women are far brighter and more manipulative than us men so why not follow their lead!!)

A few nifty Idea's

Now Go and get started!

The winter may appear to halt you in your tracks when in fact all it is doing is allowing you a perfect opportunity to allow your body to recover and develop and improve in other ways. 


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