Ragtime Cyclist column

Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.

Once the winter weather starts to gets nasty the effects of wind, rain, sleet and snow start to really go to work on all the moving bits of your bike.

This is where a winter bike comes into its own.

Apart from anything else it’s a ready-made excuse to acquire another bike, and what self-respecting cyclist doesn’t want another bike?

What’s more, it’s an excuse based on logic: where’s the sense in chucking a couple of grand at some beautifully crafted lump of carbon fibre, only to spend all winter wearing it away with the elements.

Ideally the winter bike will be something solid and hard-wearing – but performance wise, nothing like the shiny, pristine piece of art that’s now polished, greased, and wrapped up snug in the garage.

Of course the drop in performance takes some adjusting to, but once you’ve committed to the winter steed for those long dark months, the time has come to ease off, forget about your average speed, and settle into some solid winter mileage.

As it happens, the winter bike is also the ideal tool to help you save a bit of face.

Picture the scene: autumn is heading towards winter and you’ve not been getting out much – frankly, your summer fitness has plummeted off the edge of a cliff.

Your mate gives you a ring, suggesting a couple of hour’s blast around your local roads.

‘Great’, you think; and then reality hits.

This is going to involve burning lungs and conversation through gasping breaths.

The solution?

Simply meet your mate at the usual spot, nonchalantly riding your winter bike.

When he raises eyebrows just claim, ‘oh, I thought we were riding winter pace today’.

If at any point during your ride the pace is still getting too hot just remind him how solidly made (and therefore heavy) the alloy tubes are on your winter steed, and how enjoyable it is to get in some serious (and leisurely) winter base miles.

If it’s coming across well you could even talk about how pleased you are to be so disciplined about sticking to your training plan (rather than how disappointed you are to be riding so slowly.)