Essential tips for winter mountain biking

By: Naveed Nasir

CoveMud

 

Thomas Dibley is Wiggle’s road and MTB parts buyer – when he’s not checking out the latest components and kit, he can be found smashing the turns on one of his many mountain bikes. In this blog Thomas shares his winter riding tips and explains how he stays motivated during the winter months.

Get out there and ride

“It’s too wet”, “I don’t want to get my bike dirty”, “I can’t be bothered”…sound familiar? These are comments I can’t help but think at this time of year. I do however do my best to refrain from actually saying them as quite frankly, they are pretty poor excuses.

Fact of the matter is, it has been so wet lately that those comments are quite justified. Your favourite summer trails that you remember being so much fun just a few months ago are now mud-ridden and every mile you cycled in the summer now feels like five. Every road is littered with sharp stones just waiting to puncture your road tyres and any run means two days on the radiator for your shoes.

Face the elements

It’s at this time of year you have to search deep within yourself to find what you need to face the elements, or even if it’s not raining, to face hauling yourself through the sludge. This normally involves a few weeks off the bike mixing it up a bit. And that folks is the key to unlocking winter. Remember how much fun riding your bike was at the end of the summer? It’s made even better because you’re fitter than in the spring after a lack of activity. It’s important to stay active!

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Maintain your fitness

As a mountain biker, I have had a few weeks off the bike and focussed my attention to off road running. It’s a great all-body workout running off road in the cold and wet which will attract many friends or if not, there are plenty of running groups out there. Alternatively, pull out your commuting bike, if not a proper road bike and stay on tarmac to put a few miles in. This has ensured my fitness level has maintained, if not actually become a stronger runner. This additional fitness and realisation that the trails aren’t always as bad as you think they might be, is inspiration enough to get the mountain bike out. I noticed it was still light-ish at 4:30pm the other day which is just another little thing that will perk your spirits at this time of year.

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I won’t pretend I have unlocked the secret to keeping you out on the trails this winter, but I do manage to stay reasonably enthusiastic to ensure I maintain my activity to see in Spring with some of the fitness I gained last year. Here’s my top five tricks to getting out there and staying active!

Top tips to get through the winter period

Winter upgrades – It doesn’t have to be expensive or swanky, just something you’ll look forward to fitting, or wearing while on your bike. A pair of season-specific tyres will do wonders to the ability of your bike and some good gloves might make the difference between having fun and being too cold

Plan – Plan a time to head out on your mountain bike and stick to it. Clear it with your partner, make sure you have plenty of time, dress appropriately (making sure everything is ready the night before) and head out no matter what the weather. Avoid the spots you know will be too wet and stick to high ground. You know what, you might actually enjoy yourself!

Mix it up – If you can’t face cleaning all your kit after a dirty ride, why don’t you buy some running shoes and put a few miles in. The exercise will make you feel good and running is actually excellent cross training for the bike. Running off road often gives a lot of the satisfaction that mountain biking can give you, but you don’t have a bike to clean

Book an event – Joining in with like-minded individuals can be all the motivation you need. By booking into an event, whether it be a race like a Duathlon or a XC race, or just a planned mountain bike ride of some kind, will give you motivation and the reason to head out and get muddy.

Love to ride  – You ride mountain bikes because you love it. It’s remembering this that will hopefully spur you on the most to get back out there. Think of that last berm you railed, or the last descent you totally nailed. Remember that awesome drop off or jump you did in the woods in the Autumn that reaffirmed your passion for mountain biking? It’s that feeling we crave and the only way to replicate it, is to get out there and do it again.