Cyclist Guide to Staying Motivated During the Winter 

With a blanket of snow on much of the country and temperatures often dipping below freezing, it’s not uncommon to lose inspiration this time of year. It feels easier to reach for a mug of hot chocolate than your winter training gear! We’re lucky to have a team of hard charging Maple Fanatics who have a knack for getting outdoors no matter the weather, so we reached out to them to gather some tricks and tips about how they stoke their motivational fires.

From Ted King

Cold is cold, regardless if you call 50 degrees winter or -10. For me and many, cold digits are enough to make a good ride terrible, so my trick is keeping those fingers and toes somewhere above frostbitten. Barmitts and poggies are an enormous help to keeping your hands warm. And toe warmers either on your socks, or on top of your shoes but under your shoe covers, will help maintain warmth in your toes. It’s also not the worst idea in the world to have a pair of winter shoes so that you can wear thicker, winter wool socks through the frigid months.

I can’t get enough Mapleaid served hot in the winter! Given that I’m often riding in teens and 20s, an insulated, thermal bottle is a must if you want your Mapleaid to actually be warm for more than 15 minutes. Just be aware that those vacuum bottles are so good at insulating, it’s best to only use warm water to start or you’ll scald yourself an hour in with still near-boiling water.

Temperature regulation relative to time on the bike is something to think about. If you’re humming along at zone 2 and not working up a sweat, you can pretty much do whatever you want, however long you want. But if you’re doing hard intervals, you’re going to work up a sweat. Intervals are a good idea now and again, just be aware of where you are in the ride. Meaning, if you’re at the end of an interval at the top of a mountain and you’re covered in sweat, bring an extra layer to stay warm on the speedy descent. You’ll be cold to the core once you’re sweating and sitting around for any extended period of time.

From Emily Newsom

As a Texan, I don’t deal with the adverse conditions that many other cyclists face. The winter months are sprinkled with weeks of balmy weather alongside intermittent bouts of cold rain and the occasional ice storm. Thus what I do face is inconsistent weather and that does bring its own challenges. I’ve learned to adjust my training to fit the temperature, and as soft as that sounds, it works well here in Texas! For example if the weather is looking wonderful for a week, I will push out big miles, and vice versa, a week of terrible weather will be a low mileage week. 

What I do have in common with other cyclists, is a period without races, and after several months of this it can become hard for me to stay motivated and disciplined. Here’s a few things that help me.

Keep the big picture in mind. Remember what you are working for and that the foundation for an entire year is being built during the off season. Consistent training, day after day, is irreplaceable and will give you the buffer you need when the racing begins. 

Find an activity that compliments your training to add in once or twice a week. This is my second year of weight training during the off season and I have seen huge benefits from it both mentally and physically. Having something other than the bike to work on is refreshing and motivating. Along with that, weight training has given me more resilience and as a result I am much less likely to get sick. 

During the off season, rides tend to be long and the desire to cut rides short becomes hard to resist. Several little tricks help me get through this temptation. Reward yourself! I am not above bribing myself with the thought of extra dessert or a glass of wine at home if I complete that extra hour. Or plan a stop where you can enjoy a favorite UnTapped waffle or maple syrup and return to the bike refreshed. Another way that has helped me is to remind myself that I can go easier, but I can’t go shorter. So if I’m finding the fatigue is building up more than I expected in a long ride and I want to stop, I just ease up a little and continue on. That slight adjustment in tempo helps me realize I can accomplish the hours I set out to ride. Most of all remember that riding a bike is a privilege and the simple joy of working one’s body is something some people cannot do, whether by choice or not. Enjoy the feeling of pushing your body and improving yourself just a little day by day. 

From MTB Travel Reviews Jimmy Christensen

Warm fingers and toes will remove most of your cold weather woes!  If your hands and feet are cold, nothing else will matter because cold digits make for a miserable ride.  For your hands: Poggies, hand/toe warmers, a proper set of winter riding gloves.  For the feets: Insulated riding shoes, proper (moreno) wool socks, and toe warmers are a must.  

Focus less on hammering fitness goals and more on adventure!  Winter motivation can be hard to come by when you know the many discomforts that can come with cold weather riding.  It always helps me to focus on the adventure before the fitness goals, so that I am more open minded to the struggle and unknowns of cold weather riding.  Trust me, fitness gains are unavoidable in the winter riding conditions.  

Remember, cold weather equals cold food and drinks!  While winter riding may seem less exhausting on the body, primarily because you are sweating less, you have to be very conscious of your calorie and water intake.  Focus on snacks and beverages that don’t freeze or harden, to make them more enjoyable.  Also, make sure you get your bang for your buck, because it is typically harder to eat and drink when it’s cold.  Untapped maple tubes in my water are my go-to way to get those electrolytes, extra calories, and make my water irresistible!