In the South of England at least, the weather has been surprisingly pleasant for getting out on the bike. The layer of cloud has been keeping the temperature reasonable, and when the sky does clear riding becomes more inspiring.

For many people, December is a very busy time of year, with the pre-Christmas rush, and preparations for Christmas. For many of us there is a good argument for scaling down (or even stopping!) training in December.

However it would be a shame to lose the fitness level you have already built up!

Maintaining your fitness

How do you stay fit when time is short?

It has been shown that one intense session a week will maintain your fitness. If you have had a regular training program, continuing at the same intensity for a similar time per session should work.


If you time is more limited, you may wish to increase the intensity.


Leg strength vs aerobic fitness


Naturally, to gain aerobic fitness you need to exercise the heart and lungs, for example by or hill climbing. If you are aerobically unfit it is surprising how rapidly your fitness will increase with even one hill hard climb on a warmish day.  Hill climbing also increases leg strength. However another method is to ride a heavy, loaded bike – cycle touring has its benefits!  A heavy bike is also useful for gaining fitness if you are riding with less fit friends! If the road surface becomes too pot holed or threatens to be icy, a bike with wider, slower, more grippy tyres or a mountain bike may be safer. Although progress will be slower, there will still be fitness gains!


Thinking ahead

In the winter gloom, it may like to lift the spirits to consider future training trips, both in the UK and abroad. There are a number of suggestions on the “2014 Events” section of this web site, ranging from the Chilterns to Snowdonia. This year in addition to a week in the Pyrenees, we have four day trips to practice on Hautacam and Tourmalet, and a training trip in Lanzarote.

Indoor training

If the weather is not suitable for riding, or on those long dark evenings, you may wish to exercise at home or in the gym. Here are some suggestions from Matt Curley, , performance coach with Pure Sports Medicine:

“Strength training has many benefits for cyclists in the off season, Winter is the perfect time to introduce this to your weekly routine (x2) ,


Benefits include:


·         help you stay lean or lose fat,

·         strengthen the core

·         help prevent injuries by keeping the muscles conditioned,  

·         correct any imbalances caused by a lot of cycling

·         time efficient


Here are 2 mini circuits to get you started that can be perfomed anywhere, no gym needed:


To be performed for sets of 10 in a circuit fashion (no rest) for as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes rest as much as you need to record the total number of rounds completed and try to beat your total each session, when this becomes easy try 20 minutes each circuit






If you have any injury worries, however small, now is the time to get them sorted.”


Above all:


Enjoy your cycling and have a happy Christmas and an enjoyable new year!