Peered out of your window recently, contemplating a ride that doesn’t involve the indoor turbo, a puddle of sweat and mass of brain cells shrivelling up from boredom? Yep, us too, but welcome to winter in the UK or wherever you might be that is on par with the UK or worse… And if your weather is worse, we send you our condolences and virtual support to get through the winter.
Autumn gives us a covering of beautifully crisp leaves and stunning sunsets, but for a cyclist, there is nothing positively thrilling about winter.
Winter seems to drag on for the whole year (mentally), the bike cleaning is an additional chore nobody needs, there’s the expense of filling your wardrobe with winter kit and the aching that occurs in your bones when you do decide to trundle through the lake-sized puddles filling the roads. I don’t even want to think about it.
However, winter miles really lead to summer smiles, and venturing out on that first spring group ride and being able to flex your winter training is quite a feeling. So how can you get through winter without cracking?
A cycling trip abroad! Yes, you read that right. We are certain a large proportion of the cycling community has never thought about it, but a winter break can brighten up your life and provide some winter goodness, while giving you something to look forward to – you’ll not regret it.
You can go on a cycling trip any time of year, but with the UK often being so hot in the summer these days, why don’t you save some of your holiday for some winter sun to help you survive the slog?
You can take your bike anywhere, but we would recommend somewhere with beautifully tarmacked roads, friendly drivers and deliciously cheap coffee!
Many people will fly with their bike in a purpose-built and aptly-named ‘bike box,’ which is a notoriously expensive contraption designed to keep your pride and joy safe. There is a risk of the bike being damaged during the flight, but thankfully, this is a rare occurrence. Or, you can hire a bike abroad. Decisions decisions. Take your own bike – perfect set-up and comfortable, or hire a bike at your destination, which can be relatively cost effective, and the bike can be set it up to your measurements if requested. Hiring a bike might also give you the opportunity to test ride that swanky new bike you’ve been eyeing up for months…
Where to go?
Some of the most wonderful winter destinations include – but are not limited too:
Once a beautiful quiet old town, now swamped by budding cyclists and people looking for ride partners, filling the town with tourism and friendly custom. Again, Girona provides a variety of cycling and routes, allowing you to get your training done in the best way for you. It’s filled with cyclist-friendly cafes and bike shops in case you require a hand or some retail therapy. However, Girona is on the more expensive side for Spain, due to it being so popular with tourists, mostly cyclists it seems.
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Calpe, Spain, and surrounding areas:
stunning roads, an array of rides from super hilly to pan flat, and nine times out of ten the drivers are wonderfully polite and encouraging. You’ll likely find some other cyclists out there to ride with, and the coffee and cakes are exquisite – and cheap. And there are cycling specific hotels, or companies that create training camps and provide ride leaders, should you not feel 100% confident about going it alone or you just want to meet new people. But we must not forget the weather – often the winter sun will see the temperatures rise to 18 degrees or even higher (although, you can’t hold us to that, with the strange weather everyone seems to be getting).
A firm favourite for many cyclists who have been around a while, and of course a place filled with triathletes as well, due to the Iron Man event that is held there every year and the Club La Santa sports holiday centre. Price range is probably in between Calpe and Girona. It does provide a smaller variety of cycling routes – depending on which end of the island you stay at. However, the weather is virtually guaranteed to be warm all year, with a little dose of hectic winds.
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All round exquisite, even in winter. The home of cycling, the birth of some of the best cyclists in the world – the place where they’re born on two-wheels. Also, a place full of delicious full-fat cow’s milk hot chocolates and frites on every corner. You’re likely to be able to catch a cyclo-cross race or a road race as there’s usually something happening in most towns. The atmosphere at Belgium races is truly magnificent, especially when the cyclocross course goes through the beer tent! Known for its marvellous cycle lanes, you can get from A to B in an extremely safe manner without ever touching the roads. The winter weather is questionable and a lot like the UK – not ideal if you’re looking for winter sun, but if you’re happy wrapping up warm, it’s a superb place to explore on your bike.
A lot like Belgium – a place where budding professionals are born on two-wheels and flourish throughout their childhoods. Cost varies and it is generally more expensive than Spain, but still within a reasonable budget and great for a little cycling camp away. On the plus side there are cycle lanes galore, but unfortunately, the winter weather is like the UK. But if you can cope with the weather, it’s well worth a visit. The picture-postcard scenery is unforgettable and the friendliest of residents go out of their way to help cyclists wherever and whenever they can.
Where to stay
Are you someone who likes to have the option to cook for yourself whenever you fancy a snack or a mountain of pasta? Or are you happy to indulge in the all-inclusive buffet three times a day? We know what we’d rather do – carbs, carbs, carbs – but have a think before you make any irrational decisions.
You can usually always find a place on AirBnB, should you prefer to have more space than a hotel room could ever offer and the ability to cook whatever you like and whenever. We’d recommend checking with hosts that it’s ok to bring a bike, and in our experience, most of the time hosts seem perfectly ok with it. Some are pickier though, and may prefer bikes don’t come inside the house. Food for thought – you won’t catch us locking our bikes outside as they wouldn’t be insured.
If you want a hotel, our first port of call would be booking.com. Hundreds of hotels, easy enough to add filters into your search and lots provide you the option to pay on arrival – always handy.
Otherwise, ask around your club or friendship group – chances are someone knows of somewhere that is the perfect place for a winter camp.
Have a gander through google, a chat with some friends and a discussion with yourself… Choose wisely and soft, silky roads and taste tingling coffee await your every ride.
P.s, don’t forget we offer cycling travel insurance which can cover you wherever you decide to go. If you have any questions about our insurance policies, just give us a call us for free on 0800 121 4424, or speak to us on live chat!