The festive period is arguably the easiest time of the year to let your training slip. With Christmas traditions, meet-ups, and regulation parties all on the calendar, the time cyclists have to get out on the bike is restricted. And we all know it can be a challenge to juggle training with family commitments without irritating everyone. How am I meant to complete the Festive 500? We hear you say. Here’s our guide to squeezing some bike time in so that you can survive Christmas and maximise your riding.
It is incredibly important to remain adaptable through the festive period. This pretty much goes for everything during December, but it is especially important for cyclists. If your planned social ride falls through or a surprise encounter with family members reduces your available time, don’t let it ruin that experience, just adjust your session to a shorter, more intense workout.
Take it inside
On the point of adaptability, taking all your sessions indoors is the easiest fix. Your turbo or smart trainer is your friend during these tricky periods. Follow a pre-set plan on a system like Zwift or simply find a schedule to follow on the internet and you’ll find that your indoor rides benefit you as much as your weekend epic, even if you’re just riding 45 minutes at a time. Easily accessible, warm, dry, and away from busy roads, the pros speak for themselves.
Get out at dawn
As everyone else is having a holiday lie-in, get out on your bike. Sure, you’ll need to layer up and check that your lights are fully charged, but the roads and trails will be quieter and the sight of the rising sun breaking over the horizon is truly beautiful. That and you won’t be impacting on any plans as you will have done all your riding before the day has even started.
Spread the Christmas cheer
The easiest way of balancing social time and training is by combining them into a group ride. This is also more palatable for family members because you will be riding with mates, while also boosting your motivation, and is a good way to stay cheery through December. A Christmas meet-up on bikes, what could be better than that?
Take the family with you
One of the best ways to stay in the saddle is by organising a family ride. A low-level cycle is a great rest day option and a way of keeping the whole clan fit and healthy, not just yourself. Plus, if you’re giving the gift of a bike this Christmas, you can showcase how great our sport is to the next generation. Just remember not to earmark that day as the one you will be flying up the road to take the lead on a segment. The jury is out on whether this will irritate them all not, but it’s surely worth a shot.
Water is your friend
It’s no secret that we tend to consume more alcohol over the Christmas period. With all the boozy puddings, late-night tipples, family knees-ups and lock-ins happening in December, it’s very easy to let our discipline slip. To combat this, stay hydrated through Christmas by drinking a glass of juice or water after every alcoholic beverage. This is just a general life tip for fighting a hangover too. But don’t allow yourself to stop having fun!
Seek out inspiration
Taking some time off for a rest day is nothing to be scoffed at. But you don’t need to leave all of your cycling passion at the door. Pick up a celebrated cycling book, re-watch your favourite race from this season, or even tune in to some cyclocross and seek out some inspiration for 2022.
Take a leaf out of the professionals’ book during off-season and ditch the bike entirely for a couple of weeks. Instead, replace it with another sport or exercise such as running, swimming, yoga and strength training in time for the new season. Benefits include reducing the risk of injury by working out a different area of your body, and developing strengths and skills that will then help you when you get back in the saddle. These exercises are also easier to fit into a busy schedule.
Set yourself a challenge
Ride from sunup to sundown, cycle in a Christmas jumper and Santa hat, make some festive-themed Strava art, these are just a few novelty challenges you can set yourself. However, lots of things can change over a short period of time during the festive period so don’t worry if you don’t meet your goals. Is it really worth riding 300 miles on Christmas day in the pouring rain to complete Festive 500? Your pigs in blankets will go cold for one.
Give in to urges, it’s Christmas after all
Finally, it’s not worth leading a monastic life at Christmas in the name of marginal gains. Everyone’s allowed time off, cut yourself some slack and don’t beat yourself up about missing a session or having one too many trips to the selection box. 2022 is just around the corner, time to set resolutions and get fighting fit for spring.
Both cycling and the festive period are about enjoyment. You should be able to make the most of both without either feeling like a chore. If you’re dreading getting out on a Christmas training ride as much as seeing your in-laws on Boxing Day, it’s probably time to cut yourself some slack. Like any other time in the year though, there are ways of maximising your riding over December and this will set you up perfectly for the spring block to come.
Words by Oskar Scarsbrook