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9 ways to get motivated for cycling when the weather’s rubbish

We asked how you keep your enthusiasm for riding when the weather turns against you, and here's your advice

How do you stay motivated to ride when the weather’s grim? We asked our Facebook followers this very question and here are our favourite replies.

1 Keep your focus on fitness

Dai Tilbert is typical of many in saying, “My internal conversation and mantra in this morning’s rain was: winter miles equal summer smiles.”

You know that cycling saying, right? Put in the work in the off-season and you’ll be rewarded with better fitness when it’s time to race.

Riding in the rain (CC BY-SA 2.0 Dave Gingrich
CC BY-SA 2.0 Dave Gingrich

Joanna Sharpe says that she likes to remind herself that the competition is likely to be training, so if she wants to win she needs to be out there in all weathers too.

2 Think of the weight you could lose

Many readers cycle to help them lose weight and, as David O’Toole points out, “Calories don’t burn themselves.”

Sarah Molland says that she gets motivated by looking at the picture of herself weighing 3 1/2 stone more before she started exercising, and Philip Wilson says that he as lost over four stone since getting back into cycling.

Cyclist on scales (1)

Wolfgang Bobby McNeil says, “If I need motivation I just drive around a McDonalds and look at what no motivation can lead too. Then I’m ready to ride my rear tyre off!”

3 You’ll earn the right to a reward

A lot of people motivate themselves to ride with the promise of a reward afterwards.

“One word: cake,” says Gary Davison. And he’s not alone. Ashley Franklin feels the same way, and so does Rose Marie Armour.

G!RO cycling cafe - strava 1

The thought of coffee as well as the cake does it for Alex Drake.

“If that fails, double the amount of coffee and cake.”

That could spiral out of control, surely.

For Freddie Pereyra and Stuart Watson it’s the thought of a pint when they’re done that helps get them out the door.

4 You’ll love the post-ride feeling

Everyone enjoys that post-ride glow, and it’s even better when you’ve overcome tough conditions.

“I know I'll be feeling righteous when I get home having conquered the weather,” says Jane Myburgh.


Plus, as Craig Parkinson points out, once you’ve got the miles in, you have a good excuse to do nothing for the rest of the day.

“I love it when you get back and know you've had a good ride, and you’re glad you went out in the end. You feel so good and full of energy,” says Thomas Mackrell.

5 Give yourself a break

Some readers are motivated to ride by the thought of staying at home.

“Wake up and look after two hyper kids all day or get out for peace and quiet and good long pedal? Hmmm, I wonder,” says Phil Straker.

Winter racing.jpg
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Sean Rowe

“I just think to myself that I could be at home with four little girls fighting over daddy's iPad,” says Stewart Driver.

There’s a bit of a theme emerging here.

Christie Thomas Newell reckons cycling gets him away from his wife’s list of jobs.

6 It’s the practical option

Plenty of readers ride in wet weather out of necessity.

“I ain't getting home any other way,” says Scott McKenzie.

wet weather cyclist (copyright Jamie In Bytown)
© Jamie In Bytown

“The bike is my transport to everywhere,” says Michael Donald. “The alternative is sitting in a bus with everyone else's snots and diseases. Easy choice really.”


“If I don't get to work then they're probably not going to keep paying me, which means that I can’t spend money on bike things,” says Peter Haggett. “That would be unacceptable.” Good point.

7 You can always sing

Some readers keep their spirits up in dodgy weather by singing. Yes, really!

Singing bird.jpg
 CC BY-NC 2.0 aloush

“I sing to myself to try and keep a rhythm going,” says Neville Wright.

Gary Harvey’s song of choice is One Man Went To Mow, apparently, while Rob Chadwick belts out 1980s power ballads.

Can we put a request in, Rob? Every Rose has its Thorn, by Poison. The request is that you don’t sing it. Cheers.

8 It’s following The Rules

Of course, some readers don’t struggle with motivation whatever the weather throws at them.

“Just rule #9; be a badass,” says Paul M Eddy.

The rules

He’s referring to The Velominati rules, of course. Have a read if you’re not familiar with them.

“I go down to my local bike shop a buy a can of HTFU,” says Brad Petley.

That’s Rule 5 sorted, then. Grrr!

9 You’ll look epic!

“It feels good to know that I look epic,” says Jack Porteous, and Jim Yeoman has a similar philosophy.

“My motivation comes from knowing I can then tell everyone how epic my rides in the winter are and therefore how hardcore I am,” says Jim, with a hint of irony.

“Plus, getting grime in my mouth hides the horrendous dental decay.”

Just a hint!

TdF Stage 8 Media car (1)

“I just think of Johnny Hoogerland,” says Chris Johnson. “If he can ride after being catapulted into a barbed wire fence at 30mph, I can ride with wet feet and cold hands.” 

Seems reasonable.

arenberg pros © jack thurston
The infamous cobbles of Paris-Roubaix's Arenberg forest © jack thurston

“I imagine I'm in Paris-Roubaix,” says Paul Murphy. “Love it, throw all you’ve got at me, I don't mind; keep riding, feel alive.”

What gets you out on to the roads when the skies are grey? Let us know down below.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

Add new comment


Steve K | 3 years ago
1 like

When I first read this article last year I quite smugly thought it didn't apply to me as my daily commute of 45k (round trip) would keep me riding through the winter.  But now working from home (and generally getting out on the bike 4/5 times a week for around 150-200k in total) I am worried about keeping going through the winter in the cold and the dark.  I really don't want to lose the habit - or put on the weight!

carlosdsanchez | 4 years ago
1 like

Been 18 years since I last owned a car, so to get to work I have to ride my bike.

rix | 4 years ago
1 like

10. Legit way to get away from wife.

Xenophon2 | 4 years ago

Bizarrely enough, outside of my daily commute I actually ride more km in autumn/winter than I do in spring or summer and I find it easier to leave home in the dark on a sunday morning at 7 with temperatures around freezing as opposed to leaving when the sun's long up and more people about during the month of June.  Less family expectation to go out together and enjoy the weather, i guess.  Or else I'm simply a glutton for punishment.

HLaB | 4 years ago

I've cycled in all weather's in the past and the commute has kept me ticking over in the worst of weather.  As Ive got a bit older I've become wary of ice though.  The roads back home are well gritted and whilst it makes a mess of the bike I've got out.  Down here though although its icy less often the roads are poorly gritted and its treacherous.  This year although I'll be playing it by ear (so as to speak), I wasalready in winter gloves, full lenght jersey, leg screens or warmers and gilet (buff some days) when it was 38deg and I was in thermal bib tights last week) :-o 

peted76 | 4 years ago

I don't commute that often so I'm not hardened to the weather like some. I do have to have a serious word with myself on a cold miserable  Saturday or Sunday morning. Something along the lines of just get up, find the right clothes, just get dressed, the struggle to get the overshoes on only takes a few mins it'll be worth it, just get over that first few miles of cold, where's a snood, you'll love it once you get going, others will be there waiting, it'll be an experience, you'll feel great later. 

StraelGuy | 6 years ago

Ha, ha, this brings back memories! 20 year ago as a student in Aberdeen my flatmate and I would wash our mountain bikes in the bath. The sheer amount of mud, pebbles and pine needles in the bath afterwards nearly caused a few domestics with his missus yes.

beezus fufoon replied to StraelGuy | 6 years ago
StraelGuy wrote:

Ha, ha, this brings back memories! 20 year ago as a student in Aberdeen my flatmate and I would wash our mountain bikes in the bath. The sheer amount of mud, pebbles and pine needles in the bath afterwards nearly caused a few domestics with his missus yes.

what woman in her sane mind wouldn't pay good money for a pine-scented exfoliating mud bath?!

GerardR | 8 years ago
1 like

I was thinking about taking the mickey out of you in the northern hemisphere. However, having seen how so many of you ride in absolutely appalling weather (such as Auckland never sees), I thought it more truthful to say I'm in awe of your determination to ride in the face of such challenges.

welshcyclist | 8 years ago

I cycle mainly to commute, I am not worried about speed, but enjoy the workout, putting in more effort when I feel like it. I enjoy the time in the saddle, up to an hour and half each way, it clears my head, and gets me going. How I used to put up with driving in a car is, now, a complete mystery to me? My colleagues and friends think I've a screw loose cycling 20 miles each way. The weather doesn't bother me too much, as I have been doing it now for a decade. Sometimes, however, after a long 12 hour shift, with the rain lashing down, and the wind howling in my face, it can be a bit daunting, but I chuckle to myself something I made up, that I thought Mohammed Ali might have said in his heyday, that is "Rain ain't pain!". And away I go. Cheers, ya'll keep on pedalling.

Spiny | 8 years ago

Got soaked on my homeward 11m commute yesterday*... STILL better than the car. Might give tomorrow a miss though, lightning forecast  13

* Endura convert softshell held up pretty well fwiw.

seanw18 | 8 years ago

I'm hard enough, but I always worry about my bike (and the need to clean and lube post ride).

sm | 8 years ago

I enjoy cycling too much to ride in the rain.

There, I said it!

Shades | 8 years ago

Bit of 'n+1' but get a properly winterised/bad weather bike (proper mudguards, disc brakes, bigger tyres). I have a 15 mile (each way) commute which I do once or twice a week when the weather's good. Great in the summer when I can get the road bike out, but come this time of year when the weather's a bit unpredictable, I'm always 'debating' which day is best as I don't fancy subjecting the road bike to the demands of crap winter weather. In steps the old winter 'tank'; sure it's a bit heavier but tbh the difference in time is not that much and it seems to cope with bad conditions quite well. The front mudguard even has a flap at the bottom which, whilst not looking particulary sleek, does keep a lot of crap off the chain rings! Come the summer you're off like a rocket once you get onto a lighter 'steed'.

arfa | 8 years ago
1 like

Get a mountain bike and head off road to give yourself a bit of variety - it's more fun coming off in the mud.....

Jaytee | 8 years ago

Just bought a Cannondale Caadx. I can't wait for the grime, muck and slop of winter cycling.

ourdave | 8 years ago
1 like

It's the additional cleaning and maintenance in winter that causes me a problem since I live in a 1st floor flat with zero outside space (nevermind anything as luxurious as a garage). Cleaning a bike properly in the bath is hard. I've tried.  22

For this reason I tend to be a fair weather winter cyclist and ride more on the turbo in front of the tv than would be ideal.

CommotionLotion replied to ourdave | 8 years ago

I assume you weren't in the bath at the time.  1

BeatPoet replied to ourdave | 8 years ago

I'm exactly the same. 1st floor flat - but cleaning a bike in the bath is easy. It's cleaning an oily bath and spattered tiles afterwards that's a complete bastard!

randomeur replied to BeatPoet | 6 years ago
BeatPoet wrote:

I'm exactly the same. 1st floor flat - but cleaning a bike in the bath is easy. It's cleaning an oily bath and spattered tiles afterwards that's a complete bastard!

Exactly this!

Not to mention bringing in a bike that is dripping with muddy, oily water and getting it through the corridor while the person you live with is gasping in horror.

esayers | 8 years ago

I can't drink much the night before riding, so after telling everyone the reason I'm not drinking a few nice pints of local ale is because I'm cycling the next morning, then I have to go cycling the next morning!
It is especially rewarding if you can get out, do 50 odd miles and get back before your hungover housemate is out of bed!

Ziptie | 8 years ago

Go and sit in a traffic jam. Nothing like sitting in traffic to make me yearn to be on my bike, whatever the weather.

Also remeber what my granddad said (who served in the North Atlantic as a watchman on merchant ships in WW2) "There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes"

RobD | 8 years ago

It still beats the turbo/rollers.
if I know I've only got 30-40 minutes then it's the rollers, if I can ride for longer than that then it's outdoors every time (except in snow as drivers in snow seem to just get stupid.

Beaufort | 8 years ago
1 like

If you love cycling the weather does not provide barrier to enjoyment.

However, don't try to be a hero either. You must learn when discretion is the better part of valour - if it's gusting 50mph or there is slick ice out then think at least twice. I'd say that 90% of our British weather can be ridden in safely, it's the 10% where you must take extra care, or stay off the bike.

tatsky | 8 years ago

I must admit there is something strangely satisfying about being smattered with grit and having rain and spray dripping down your face. Like you're some sort of unstoppable cycling machine, and nothing can get in the way.

If I am honest, I prefer the cold and wet to the hot and dry. As long as my toes are dry! That's my one caveat, got to have dry toes.

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