Traditionally, base miles are long low intensity rides in the off-season to increase your base fitness. Now with new training methods, indoor trainers and everyone riding cyclocross, there are more efficient, warmer and muddier ways to keep your fitness up.
But there’s still a place for base – it’s a great addition to indoor training, improving your bike handling skills (especially in the wet) and a chance to ride new roads at a relaxed pace. But really, it’s just a good excuse to ride with mates and eat plenty of cake, so here are a few tips from the team to plan the perfect base miles…
You’re laying in bed. It’s dark, cold and probably raining. This is the toughest bit; swapping your cozy bed for a cold saddle. Once you’re up and out, you won’t regret it so our three tips for motivating your arse out of bed would be:
a) Ride with mates. Sounds obvious, but arranging to meet mates forces you out – you don’t want to be that guy that texts to cancel while everyone else is waiting in the cold to set off.
b) More coffee, more cake. Base rides should have at least two coffee stops. You can use the ELEMNT Route Me Anywhere feature to find and route you to the cafe stop of your choice. Then procrastinate going back into the rain as long as possible by trying more of their cakes.
c) Recovery beer. In the UK, we’re not short of warm, cozy pubs with open fires. Aim to finish at one of these and the rest of the ride will fly by.
2. Layer up
Again, a fairly obvious one, but your ride will be a lot more enjoyable if you have the right kit. A good rain jacket, thick gloves, waterproof overshoes, and mudguards are a must. It took me a good few winters before I invested properly but it’s worth it, no ride is enjoyable if you’re cold and wet.
3. Explore new roads
Winter is a great excuse to explore new roads. If you live in a city, you’ve probably got your exit and entry routes dialed. Use them as a template for your ride, then add a new point of interest – a cafe, castle, village or pub – as your half way point. You’ve then got your beginning, middle, and end. Keep dragging the points in between to quieter, more interesting lanes, then throw in a couple of climbs as well. The ELEMNT keeps you heading in the right direction and on bicycle friendly roads enabling you to explore to your hearts delight.
Strava heat maps can be great a way of finding well-ridden roads nearby that you may not know about but some of our team prefer to use RideWithGPS to plot their routes – it has more background map options and allows turn-by-turn navigation on the ELEMNT main screen.
4. Throw in an effort
I read somewhere that for a base ride, your heart rate should stay in Zone 2, 65%-75% of your maximum heart rate. That’s great for an easy ride but a bit boring. I like to add in a couple of efforts, normally hill climbs, to keep things interesting.
Strava Live Segments on the ELEMNT is perfect for this, especially if you’re riding solo. Just star the segment you want to attack in Strava then it’ll appear on your ride, either versus your PR or the KOM. It’s best to do this on roads you know but probably not a good idea to go all-out if it’s wet or slippy.
5. Enjoy riding your bike
Most importantly, you should enjoy riding your bike. That’s what I love about winter riding – it reminds me of when I first started riding a road bike. Longer distances, new roads, no pressure to go fast and a pint or two after. Perfect.
Admittedly, though, there are still those mornings when the rain is hammering down outside, and the bed wins.
Words by Luke Clark – the5thfloor.cc