Multiple South African MTB champion William Mokgopo has completed 5 Absa Cape Epics, aged just 25. For him, training is a year-round commitment – and he has some advice for making the best of winter conditions.
In winter, you can’t do too many hours on the bike, outdoors, because it is just too cold, so here are a few ideas to get your started:
- I find it best to break indoor sessions into morning and evening – spreading the load, but still doing the work. Spinning and Watt Bike sessions are a great way to mix up your training without freezing, outside.
- As with any type of exercise, if you are not a pro, you will be tempted to treat winter as ‘off season’ and not really want to do any training – but it is important to keep going, and maintain your fitness. Even if you put an hour or two in, it is vital. If you struggle to get out of bed on a cold morning and your schedule allows, try training in the afternoon, when it is a little warmer.
- If you do venture out in the cold, it is important to have the right type of clothing to keep you warm and protect your body. Thermal clothing is good – socks, gloves and even vests. You want to protect your fingers and toes from frostbite. Clothing made from moisture-wicking material helps draw the sweat away from your body, which will help you stay warmer. I find Buffs are a great help, for covering most of my face and neck. Glasses are also very important.
- Protecting your chest is vital as if you are too cold, it can be hard to breathe. As covered up as you may feel, do not forget to apply sunscreen – you will be surprised how many people get caught out because the sun does not feel as warm in winter. It can still cause you sun damage.
- When you leave the house, you should be warm – do not try to warm up outside. The minute you walk out of the house, you should be ready to go. It is not so much about stretching – but if you have an indoor trainer, maybe do 15 minutes on it, first, before you hit the road.
- Running is a great way for cyclists to stay fit in winter. 30 minutes of running offers the equivalent effort to 90 minutes on a bike – so whether you want to minimize your exposure to the elements or if you just have limited time because of the shorter daylight hours, running is an excellent alternative.
- Hydration remains as important as ever – the cold weather will make you feel less thirsty, but your body is still working hard and you need to make sure you are looking after it.