“January, sick and tired you’ve been hanging on me”, sung by the group Pilot in 1975 but those words resonate with me every year.
In my cycling year this is the most difficult month to keep my motivation, the Christmas celebrations are over and a New Year has arrived, it is an easy time of year to let my diet slip as the chocolate intake rises because that large bar of Toblerone I got for Christmas just has to be eaten. I have always considered it the most difficult month to sustain new resolutions as new health and fitness regimes stumble through with difficulty to make it to the end of the month and of course the bathroom scales are clearly out of calibration.
Last years rides are history and Summer still seems a long way off, there are not many organised rides in January to focus on although The Watership Down Audax is one exception and will ensure honesty at least for the first week of the month. One of my most useful training aids is my Garmin Edge linked to Strava to record the ride statistics in minute detail, this I find motivating for eleven months of the year but I am sure it delights in telling me that my performance is below par in January.
I have no Olympic training schedule to work towards but I know from hard-earned experience that if I am to stay cycling fit and enjoy a summer tour or long rides without suffering, the groundwork has to be put in, as you get older fitness is harder to gain and easy to lose. Short daylight hours and cold and frosty days can really test your motivation and make getting out on the bike for long training rides difficult. There is of course the turbo trainer or rollers but I have never been a fan of these and prefer to be in the open air even if every ride in January will require a bike clean, the sponge and cold water is just another test of my resolve.
I use January as a time for planning my year ahead, researching touring destinations, routes, and Audaxes, making lists for equipment and schedules. My cycling consists of shorter club rides and social cycling to a coffee or lunch stop with no mileage targets to meet so if bad weather interrupts there are no goals to stress over but I will try and get out as often as possible if the weather permits if only for a few miles. Like most cyclists I have my tried and tested routes and January is a good month to change and try new ones, I have 3 or 4 that will vary in length and gradient and can used to gauge where my fitness is at any time of the year.
January is also the time I overhaul my bikes for the coming year with a complete strip down and rebuild with new parts as necessary, this provides me with therapy as well as added motivation to see if the marginal gains from that new bar tape will improve my time in the climb up to our village.
With planning complete I can work out a schedule of what I need to meet my targets and as the month passes the hours of daylight lengthen, I can at last see light at the end of the tunnel that is January.