Winter Training Tips
With Nuun Sigma Sports London Racing Team
Training on the bike is tough, especially when you have to balance family, work and a social life with what is sometimes an intense schedule on the bike. The Nuun-Sigma Sports-London Team know this only too well. A team made up of full-time working riders, ensuring they arrive on the start line come March requires some careful winter planning. We spoke to two members of the squad, Lee and James, to find out how they tackle a winter's training on the bike.
Lee Smith has been a long-standing member of the Nuun-Sigma Sports-London Team. With a young family and a busy job as a self-employed carpenter fitting training in around life can be a challenge at times, as Lee explains;
"A typical weeks training for me would be a long road ride over the weekend and a turbo session if I was short of time. Mondays are a recovery day or a light spin to keep the legs turning before my specific turbo sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and Friday is a rest day."
"I structure my training over the winter by following a training plan from trainSharp which gets more top end as winter progresses so I'm ready for racing in March."
"I always try and get out on the road at weekends even when the weather is rubbish, then midweek sessions are all done on the trainer in the garage. I try and follow a strict plan there."
Training camps and warm weather riding are a staple part any racing cyclist's winter routine. Escaping the big freeze and heading out to a sunkissed destination where the roads are smooth, climbs are long and weather is pleasant is incredibly important for Lee;
"The camp gives me a week's solid training and I'm able to rest after each ride. If I was at home there is always something else to do instead of putting your feet up and recovering. It also gives you a good chance to get to know any new team mates and talk about the season ahead."
Lee, being a carpenter, has to travel to work with his tools, so cannot use his commute to get the miles in. Here are his top tips for staying both motivated and making the most of riding in the winter:
1. I always try and plan my long weekend rides with mates so I am not riding on my own. Midweek I follow my training plan which keeps me structured and I will either have my headphones in listening to music or put a film on if its a longer session on the turbo trainer.
2. Make the most of daylight at weekends.
3. I always make sure I have the right clothing for winter training, it can be hard sometimes to be motivated to get out so with the right clothing it makes it easier. There is nothing worse than riding in the winter and being cold.
4. For me I prefer group riding in the winter, it makes the time go quicker and it's nice to have a chat and share a joke.
A new dad, with a busy job as a commercial real estate agent, James Moss began his association with Sigma Sports as a full-time bike rider, racing for the UCI continental team. With a vastly different lifestyle and set of responsibilities, we sat down with James to learn more about what a typical training week looks like now.
At the beginning of the winter, it tends to be around eight hours and building up to ten through the Christmas period. I wouldn’t push for much more than that as I find it a struggle to recover after multiple hard sessions, the quality then drops off and I end up in a bit of a hole which is difficult to recover from when working full time.
A rider with a vast experience riding and racing, James explains how his training is solely focused on the road and how he uses tools to optimise his now limited training time.
"I would always rather go out on the road, no matter the conditions. I still love riding a bike and need to get out of London into the countryside to keep my sanity. It’s also very mild in the south-east compared to what I am used to! A power meter and heart rate monitor are two key tools I have invested in."
"I only went onto power about three years ago when my training time became even more limited. It’s a great tool but you need accurate data to be able to get the most out of it – fortunately, a good friend has a lactate testing kit so I have a good measure of where my numbers are and can get to."
A gritty northerner, that is used to his fair share of challenging winter ride conditions, James has picked out his top winter riding tips:
1. Keep on top of the maintenance and clean your bike properly once a week. I change the tyres and chain more frequently than I probably need to. I am not interested in stopping for punctures or mechanicals!
2. Having a target to aim at in the short term and mid-term future. I pick a race that I want to go well in the early season and then trainSharp build the training plan up to that. Having the training mapped out each week is a great way of having goals and achieving them frequently.
3. Get proper mudguards – it really helps keep you warm, keeps others you ride with clean and makes a huge difference to the state of the bike at the end of a ride.
4. There are no substitutes for the proper kit. The Castelli Alpha ROS Jacket I have saves wearing several different layers and carrying around a rain cape all winter.
Both Lee and James have slightly different approaches to winter training but one thing they share the same view on, when we asked them what their favourite part of riding in winter was, is being able to wrap up in some nice warm kit and getting out for a long ride when the sun is out and sky is clear. We couldn't agree more.