By Wouter Wippert, Professional Cyclist.
1. Dress well. Make sure you protect especially your head, hands and feet. Warm gloves, preferable wind proof, will keep your hands nice and flexible. Use a head cover with a wind stopper in it to keep the heat from escaping. Don’t forget the ears with a buff or wrap. Remember to adjust your helmet strap to the extra material on your head. Use a pair of thermal shoe covers to keep the cold and wet away. Comfort is KEY… always be prepared with an extra layer in the pockets just in case.
2. Ride against the wind to start. Try starting your ride in to a head wind. This way you take on the coldest part of the ride dry and avoid riding in to a head wind sweaty. If you come home with a tail wind it will be much more comfortable, and more fun! Another option is to find a short loop near the house and warm up on the loop. Then you know when you head out for the session, your body is warmed up.
3. Ride Length + Speed. Adjust your training duration. Instead of going out for a long slow ride, challenge yourself in a shorter ride with some efforts to stay warm. Ride a little faster than normal, and incorporate some change of pace/cadence intervals into the ride. It’s a great way to keep the body heat up and also the mind entertained. To avoid getting cold at the end of the ride, bring an extra vest or jacket for the last 10-20 minutes easy. My favorite is to find a loop of 10-20 km with rolling hills, each hill push the pace with a higher cadence on the flats. This way you are not too far from home but also can push yourself a bit and add loops during the lead up to spring.
4. Nutrition. People are always talk about special products for the heat, extra salt, vitamins, drink timing etc. But nutrition is as important when it is cold outside. Your body needs extra energy to stay warm, so make sure you take energy drinks and a banana along with energy bars so you don’t end up without fuel during your ride. It’s not easy to eat when it is cold, so setting your Garmin or watch for 30 min alerts as a reminder to stay drinking and eating. And of course, the coffee stops can be incorporated into certain training rides!
5. The Indoor Trainer. If the temperature drops too low, the wind blows too hard or its snowing and slippery outside, ride inside! A good workout on the indoor trainer is a perfect replacement for a ride outside. To get through the time on the indoor trainer, challenge yourself with some efforts, sprints and tempo changes. This way you stay nice and warm but still stay in shape for when the weather turns better again.