With last ski season seeming like a distant memory and the next one not quite within our grasp, we have to find other ways of getting our kicks. The summer weather was fantastic for most of the UK and so far the Autumn has been unseasonably warm and dry (please let it stay this way for the school holidays!) so getting out and about is a pleasure rather than a challenge.
Talking to colleagues and friends who ski we’re struck by how many really love their cycling. Cycling, like skiing, is a sport where you can get outside and explore with the minimum of mechanical intervention. You can test your limits, experience the thrill of moving at speed and also, when it suits, participate with friends and family. We’re not pretending that a refuel at a country pub or cafe is quite up there with a ski lunch in the Alps but there are parallels!
A Summer and Autumn spent cycling also pays real dividends when you hit the snow in the winter. The strength and stamina built up pedalling will make your week on the slopes that bit more enjoyable. That slope that you stopped half way down last year for a breather (or even coffee with brandy / vin chaud!)? You’ll nail it in one if you’ve had a few months on your bike.
If you enjoy your cycling, these are our top tips. Not only will they help you get more from your time on a bike; they’ll also help build your fitness for the most important week of the year – your family skiing holiday!
Ski Famille’s Top Five Cycling Tips
1. Have a target
There is nothing like a target to get you out on your bike. It might be a fun family 10k ride, it might be a super competitive sportive. Either way, get it in the diary and then get on your bike to ensure you’re fit enough to enjoy it rather than just endure it. If you’re a keen leisure cyclist looking for a cracking Autumn ride to work towards you might want to take a look at the C2C ride between the Cumbrian and Northumbrian coasts – it’s a beauty.
2. Invest in some kit
By this we don’t mean spend £4,000 on an all carbon race machine; often a bike costing 20% of that will be more than adequate … particularly if you have the potential to take 2kgs off your midriff rather than the bike frame. It is, however, worth investing in a couple of pairs of comfy padded shorts, some decent tops that wick away moisture and, if you don’t already use them, consider getting to grips with clips rather than pedals; they do make a difference. Wiggle or Decathlon are a good starting place for both ideas and value.
3. Track your rides
Whether you are working towards a specific goal or not, it’s quite motivating to know how fast you cycled, where you went, how high you climbed and how much cake you managed to burn through. You can buy a dedicated cycle computer or use Apps on your phone or smart watch. If you do a lot of cycling on routes you’re unfamiliar with then a Garmin GPS bike computer can be a good buy. If not then free options like Strava or the Samsung Health App will do the job.
4. Don’t forget to drink (and eat)
Hydration is very important on a bike (and often overlooked when skiing where you should also be taking on board plenty of water). If you’re doing rides of over an hour or two you might want to fit a second bottle cage and look at supplements to pop in your water. We like this guide to some of the options on Bike Radar. The right supplement will give you an energy boost and, if nothing else, pure water gets very boring by the time you hit your second bottle. For a half or full day in the saddle snacks are essential. You can buy all kinds of very technical nosh, but in our book nothing beats a slab of flapjack and a pack of Jelly Babies.
5. Get on your bikes and ride!!!
Whatever your goal, whatever your bike and whatever shiny new gear you’ve bought it’s not going to do you a lot of good in the shed. Get out there, get pedaling and build those muscles up for winter, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
We’d love to hear your cycling stories. Let us know if you and the children have an awesome pedal powered expedition planned.
Last summer saw our MD Chris and Head of Ops Kirsty cycle between all of the Ski Famille resorts in October. They got a bit carried away with their target setting …
You can find out more here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/2017alpineadventure
Or head to our Facebook page and traul back for photos and updates from their trip!