10 things every bike rider should do this Christmas

Make this your best cycling festive season ever with our tips on everything from riding to kit to taking on the year ahead

Winter landscape snow
(Image credit: Getty / Colin Keaveney)

Many of us will enjoy some time off this Christmas, which as any good bike rider knows, is the perfect opportunity to do a whole lot of cycling-related stuff. If you're still unsure as to what form that will take, check out our Christmas tips and be inspired. 

1. Ride on Christmas Day

If you're going to eat and drink far too much, why not make a little room for it with a festive ride first? Best done first thing before your body has been desecrated by Quality Street and 11am bucks fizz. Beyond the simple calories in/out equation, cycling on Christmas Day will also blow out the Yuletide cobwebs – whether they're due to drinking way too much the night before or being roused at 5am by excited children – and set you up for the day ahead. Your ride doesn't need to be anything big; just a brisk 45 minutes and you'll arrive back in full readiness to make merry.

2. Add a little sparkle

An oldie perhaps, but definitely a goodie. When was the last time your bike had an honest to goodness deep clean so that it sparkles all the way down to the cassette spacers? Even if it was fairly recently, bikes get dirty fast as we're unfortunately all well aware and the chances are it could do with another. A clean bike is not only more efficient, it lasts longer and makes you feel better when you ride it, so dig out the rags, the sponges and the elbow grease and get to work. Talking of which, check out our best bike cleaners test for some ideas. Failing that, wrap some tinsel around the frame.

Tyres

Try tubeless for a smooth ride and (whisper it) fewer flats

(Image credit: Future)

3. Lose the tubes

If your bike already has tubeless-ready wheels fitted – and even if it doesn't – there's never been a better time to go tubeless. The puncture fairy is particularly active at this time of year, and pays no heed to how tired or cold you are, or how far from home; it will strike without mercy and leave you kneeling at the side of the road with red raw fingers as you fumble numbly with the tyre bead. Set your bike up with tubeless tyres and enjoy better grip, comfort and, in most cases, instant puncture repair as the sealant does its work. Our winter tyre grouptest should give you some inspiration.

4. Go for a long ride

We all know the drill. Weekends are for long rides, right? But it's not always easy to fit that long ride in at the weekend, what with weekends also being for jobs around the house, social appointments and ferrying the kids to parties or clubs. For many, time off at Christmas represents the perfect opportunity to go long and go guilt-free. All you have to do is hope the weather plays ball and ensure that you're rocking a set of the best bike lights in case you get caught out by the short days.

Writing goals in a notepad

Get those goals written down

(Image credit: Getty / Karl Tapales)

5. Set yourself some goals

Now is the time to get busy with setting those cycling goals. You've heard of moving the goalposts? Well at this point you can pull them out of the ground and juggle with them if you want, it's all good – 2023 is, after all, your oyster. There are any number of goals you can set yourself, but try to make them specific. That might mean selecting a particular event to target, or aiming for a particular time in your local 10-mile time trial. Having something to aim for at the beginning of the year will help push you on when the weather turns wet or cold, and you'd rather just stay on the sofa with a cup of tea.

6. Turn on the TV

Once you've had your fill of Die Hard and The Snowman (again), get your cycling mojo working with a bit of onscreen two-wheeled entertainment. You'll find some of the best cycling films available on streaming services. Netflix alone has plenty of choice, from the 'The Least Expected Day' Movistar docuseries to the feature film 'Ventoux' about four friends who reunite to tackle the mountain, and more. Elsewhere, Eurosport gives you the opportunity to catch up on some of the year's biggest races, including all the big Classics and the men's and women's Tours de France. Plenty of inspiration for your next rides, whatever the weather. 

Image shows a person cycling in winter

Seeking out new roads

(Image credit: Future)

7. Go exploring

This is your chance to explore. That could mean new lanes,  new gravel routes, or even a whole new area to where you usually ride. If you're visiting friends or relatives, why not stick the bike on the roof and take in some scenery you may have yet to enjoy on the bike. Whether it's half a mile on a road you've never used or a brand new 50-mile loop, finding new places adds interest and perspective and might even turn out to be your favourite new place to ride.

8. Check your brake pads

Always worth doing of course, but with discs and at this time of the year all the more so. Rim brakes only need a cursory look downwards from astride your bike to see whether you need to think about new pads, but disc brakes require a closer look – neglect this at your peril. Especially as in winter they wear down faster; a single long, gritty ride can shred even a set of disc pads that looked like they had some life in them at the outset. If yours are anywhere near needing replacing, get them on order. Stuck for what to choose? You guessed it – we 've got a comprehensive list of the best brake pads for road and gravel bikes.

Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves

Make sure you have two gloves. One for each hand

(Image credit: Simon Smythe)

9. Get your kit up to scratch

December has been very cold and very wet in equal measure, but if that hasn't already jogged your memory, it's time to get your cycling kit ship shape. Ploughing into January without doing so could find you missing rides as you search your kit draw in vain for that snood you were sure you had, or the left-hand glove of that super-warm and waterproof pair that you 'know' exists somewhere. Turfing all your stuff out onto the bed or the floor and having a good sort through it will enable you to have it all ready when you need it – and give you time to order the things you're missing. Have a look out our best winter gloves test, and best overshoes test for ideas on what to spend some Christmas cash.

10. Do an FTP test

Just our little joke. Forget the FTP test. It is, after all, Christmas. Enjoy!

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 


Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.


A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness), but he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.