Making the most of the winter months and looking forward to next year's adventures
AS winter arrives it's time to think up some projects for next year.
I don't know about you but I need something to keep me trundling the bike out during the dark months of winter.
That 'something' is usually a project for next summer, an undertaking that will inspire me and excite me enough to stay bike-fit and put the necessary miles in so that when spring arrives I have a good foundation of fitness.
Over the past few summers I've taken on some big projects - Lands End to John O'Groats, the Channel to the Med through France, Ireland End to End. This past autumn I took my bike to the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain where the roads were hilly and steep for a two-week cycle tour.
I don't think I could have enjoyed any of these trips if I hadn't put the miles in during the previous winter. And 'enjoyment' is the key word here. I could have ridden the routes, but I would probably have suffered too...
But winter riding isn't all about building a fitness foundation for next year. Given a reasonable weather forecast, and we do tend to get good periods of settled weather in our comparatively mild maritime winters, I like to take off on the bike for two or three days at a time, and I usually camp wild on the overnights.
For me there is something special about hunkering down in a tent during the long nights of winter. I have a tiny gas lantern, and by its glow I can read a book, listen to music or simply doze the evening away. I should say I also have a comfortable insulation mat, a good winter sleeping bag and a reliable lightweight tent, so it's hardly 'roughing it'.
So winter doesn't have to be the grim 'off-season'. Even snow-covered ground needn't keep you from cycling. For my Christmas this year my gift from me to me could be a fat-tyre mountain bike. Watch this space...
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