Seven reasons why riding in the cold is far more fun than it should be

Let's see if I still hold these views in February

I rode my bike this morning, and,all things considered, I shouldn’t have enjoyed it.

It was -5ºC, my water bottle froze, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes, and the ice at the sides of the road made me incredibly twitchy. But somehow I had a great time.

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In fact, it was the most fun I’d had on a bike in a while, which got me thinking, why is it so fun to ride in the cold.

1. It’s good for mind and body

Speeding around at the height of summer is all very well, but it’s not really that hard, is it. Anyone can have a good time pedalling around getting a tan.

But when the temperature drops below zero, you can feel great about getting out of the door in the first place.

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You might not get those intervals done quite as efficiently, but you’ll still feel a lot better than if you’d wimped out to sit around on the sofa and watch Top Gear repeats on Dave.

2. You’ll feel the benefits come summer


It’ll all be worth it eventually

One of the reasons you feel so great after getting back from a freezing cold Saturday morning ride is that you know it’ll all be worth it.

When push comes to shove at the pointy end of an event come summer, and everyone around you is suffering, you’ll always have extra reserves to draw on thanks to those hard winter miles.

3. You get a workout just by leaving the house

This morning I wore no fewer than thirteen pieces of clothing (I’ll let you work that out), and had to work incredibly hard just to get dressed.

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After all that, not only was there no excuse not to get out of the door, but I’d already burned about 700 calories (give or take a few hundred) meaning that I could take the short route home without feeling guilty.

4. You have renewed appreciation for your skin

In a head-to-head battle between a cyclist and some ice, there’s only ever going to be one winner (clue: it’s not you).

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If you’re not one for the turbo, you’ll be doing well to go a whole winter without encountering some ice, so staying upright on your bike will be something you appreciate more than ever.

5. You don’t have to suffer on the turbo

(Photo: Andrew McCandlish)

Having a terrible time (Photo: Andrew McCandlish)

On the subject of the turbo trainer, for some people (including me) the thought of not having to suffer on that thing is reason enough to head out of the door.

Staring at a wall or daytime TV, desperately trying to find the motivation to keep you numb backside on the saddle for anything more than half an hour? No thanks.

6. You get to buy some nice new kit

Let’s face it, however much we might moan about how expensive cycling kit is these days, we all like the sound of the knock on the door as the postman delivers your new jacket/bib tights/gloves.

And anyway, you really should think of these things as an investment. At least that’s what you can tell the other half.

7. You can eat more at the cafe stop

Ian Bibby eyes up the cake, Madison-Genesis training in Majorca, 2013

Have your cake and eat it

Cold weather means the body has to burn more calories in order to maintain core temperature, so you can enjoy an extra slice of cake at the cafe stop, or maybe even an extra serving of Sunday lunch.

Hang on, wait. What do you mean that effect is cancelled out by the heat the body produces while exercising? We’ll just gloss over that.

Enjoy your cake.