How you can have your mince pie and eat it

[caption id="attachment_1858" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mmmm... Mmmm...[/caption]

So it’s festive season once again. A merry-go-round of office parties, visiting far away relatives, watching Groundhog Day (again) and generally MUCH eating and drinking. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’ve got an early season target, a couple of weeks of mince pie fuelled madness may not be ideal preparation. So we’ve got a few ideas that may help you to enjoy the festive season whilst building your fitness for the start of the new mountain bike season.

Enter a race

There are some great events over Christmas. With the weather normally not so great this time of year, and many of the trails a bit soggy under tyre, having a date fixed on the calendar helps to give you a motivational push out of the front door. Race it hard or ride around with your mates, it doesn’t matter, you’re still getting in some quality riding time. So which race to enter? The SPAM Winter challenge is a traditional favourite taking in some great trails over the Salisbury plain. There’s also the final round of the Merida Brass Monkey series where you can choose your race length from 2hr of flat out fun to 4hr “I’ve eaten too much and this is my punishment!”. There are also some great traditional XC events including the first round of the Pembrey XC series and the Frozen Devil. The Cyclo-Cross season is also still in full swing and you can use your mtb at most local events, so if you’ve not tried one, have a go. There’s nothing better than an hour of flat out racing to blow away the cobwebs.

[caption id="attachment_1846" align="aligncenter" width="470"]tdfestive1 Winter racing... pinning a number on can be great motivation[/caption]

Day trip away

If you don’t fancy a race how about arranging a day away? Meeting up with old mates and riding somewhere new, or just different to your local routes is great fun and will really help bring on your fitness and handling skills. Trail centres are a great option at this time of year as the trails tend to be pretty weather-proof.

[caption id="attachment_1849" align="aligncenter" width="470"]festivetd2 Afan in winter... Why go to the Alps[/caption]

Ride to lunch

If your calendar is like mine, it’s looking pretty full! So to help fit some riding time in why not try cycling, rather than driving, to your next engagement. Again, this gives you the opportunity to ride somewhere new and it’s always more fun having a destination than going round in circles. This takes a bit of planning, for example you may need a partner willing to drive over your change of clothes and bring you home. Oh, and if you’re heading to a restaurant remember the bottle of Dry Shower and deodorant! For me this weekend it’s Southampton to Brighton, must remember a map!

Just explore

Riding the same local trails and roads can get a bit tedious. If you don’t have time for a trip away why not just explore closer to home. Check out that little lane you always go past or the trail that doesn’t look like it goes anywhere. Unfortunately, my local trails are blessed with a unique soil composition featuring “anti-drain” properties so I’ve been stuck on the road for a few weeks now but recently I’ve been exploring a maze of little lanes and found loads of new bridleways that I will be checking out as soon as it dries out a bit!

[caption id="attachment_1847" align="aligncenter" width="470"]festivetd3 Mr Versatile, leaf mulch and goop will not stop him![/caption]

Christmas challenges

Whatever you think of Strava, the Festive 500 is a great idea. Very simple, 500km in eight days. Then you get a badge! This is a great way of challenging yourself this Christmas, and having a target like this is really good motivation. Maybe 500km is too much, but just use the concept to set your own goals. For example riding your big summer loop on the shortest day or a big out and back ride, the key is to have a goal over Christmas to challenge you and give you the motivation to get out there.

Plan your new season

Lastly, on a dark winter evening sit down with your calendar and plan your 2015 season. Maybe try a new event or challenge yourself to do your first 12 or even 24 hour solo event. Then work back, it’s probably closer than you think, a great reason to get out the door and on your bike.

[caption id="attachment_1848" align="aligncenter" width="470"]festivetd4 It’ll soon be summer again![/caption]

But most importantly, whatever you do, have a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year! See you on the other side.

Tim Dunford will be back in the new year as we follow his build up toward the World XCM Champs with his new team, Renvale - Revel Outdoors Race Team.