1. Recuperation: Once the racing season is over take a break from cycling, hang up your bike for three to four weeks and rekindle your enthusiasm. The younger you are the longer the gap can be. Older people should spend less time off the bike.
2. Alternative: If you’ve had a season on the road, then try mountain biking or cyclo-cross. Riding off road helps develop new cycling skills and gives you a change of scenery. Take up a fitness class. Gym work such as circuit training and working with weights helps to build core strength and improve posture ( work with a gym instructor for correct techniques). When it comes to non-cycling exercise, running, hill walking and swimming are good, contact sports are best avoided.
3. Bike Set-up: Set up your bike for winter - fit mudguards, always carry a rain cape, pump and tube. You may be on a different bike but it’s important that you have the correct riding position. Work on pedalling technique - pushing and pulling the pedals with both legs. Spend time on the drops, aiming to get a lower flexibly position.
4. Starting Back: When you start back cycling take it steady. Go for low intensity shortish spins at weekends. You could incorporate spinning sessions in your preparation. Err on the side of caution, curb your enthusiasm until the season is properly under way - there’s no point in being a winter champion.
5. Clothing: Keep warm and dry; wear overshoes, thermal leggings and tops and balaclava. For safety’s sake always wear bright reflective clothing, the light can deteriorate rapidly even in daytime. Keep well hydrated before, during and after training - you lose more fluid in winter because you’re wearing heavier clothing. Don’t hang around in wet clothes.
6. Calorie intake: Hold back from the dinner table (and the bar). If you’re not putting in high mileages on your bike, your calorie count will be much lower than in the season.
7. Health: Look after your health; if possible get a full medical check-up with sports doctor, get any dental work done, get any injuries or nicklies problems sorted out.
9. Coaching: If possible work with a coach or mentor who knows you well, remember you will only push yourself as far as is comfortable a coach will get you past a plateau. Keep a weekly training diary, recording training sessions, heart rate, weight, etc.
10. Strength and Weakness: Aim to improve for next season by profiling yourself - pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Then work on your weaknesses throughout the winter, break your profile into 5 sections, Physical, mental, tactical, techniqual, and your lifestyle. Goal setting is very important; focus on key races for the coming year and set your targets