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How do I stay motivated to cycle in the fall?

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year
As the days get shorter, and the temperatures drop, how do I stay motivated to ride?

A: Motivation levels are always high during the summer months. The warm sunny weather beckons us outside, and with long daylight hours we can get time on the bike after we finish work. This summer’s riding season has been long and hot, close to perfect for getting the miles in. But as we move into fall daylight hours dwindle, temperatures fall off, and days of rain reduce our riding opportunities. These factors add up not just to a lack of motivation but an actual lack of time to cycle. Here are six suggestions to fend off the fall riding blahs and help you transition into winter indoor riding.


1. Cool weather riding gear is a must if you want to extend your outdoor riding season. Invest in the following items to help stay warm and dry.

  • Booties: These go over your cycling shoes to keep your feet warm.
  • Long tights to wear over your cycling shorts: There are varying thicknesses to choose from depending on what temperatures you’re riding in.
  • Base layers: There are many options ranging from short-sleeved to long-sleeved moisture-wicking undershirts.
  • Wind- and waterproof cycling jacket: A cycling jacket will not only keep you warm and dry but has pockets for your extra clothing if you get too warm and want to shed a layer.
  • Cycling vest: This is a good option for cool but not cold cycling days. Vests keep your core warm, which is where you are the most likely to feel the cold.
  • Gloves: Long-fingered cycling gloves, and for very cold days, lobster gloves—will keep your hands warm. Lobster gloves keep your fingers together generating more warmth.
  • Moisture-wicking head cover: You wear this underneath your helmet. There are many options. Some cover your head and ears. Others, like balaclavas, cover your head ears and neck.

2. Decrease your regular rides to accommodate the shorter days, and mix up the intensity to keep your fitness levels up. Shorter, more intense, rides will burn off the same calories as longer slower rides and will keep your fitness levels high. For example:

  • Alternate periods of high-intensity riding with lower-intensity riding.
  • Ride the hills on your route harder, spin downhill and then maintain a moderate pace on the flats.
  • Throw in some intervals of high-intensity riding. Do 10 to 15 sets of higher-intensity spurts of riding in between lampposts, and then recovery, using the same length of time with easy spinning.
  • After a warmup, ride a 20/20/20 ride – 20 minutes steady-state riding, 20 minutes at a slightly harder intensity, then 20 minutes of steady-state riding. Finish with a nice easy cooldown.

3. Include an indoor spin class on top of your weekly riding schedule. This adds variety and motivation to your schedule.

4. Look ahead to the following year. Decide on an event you would like to do and mark it on your calendar. This will help keep you motivated to stay fit and in shape over the winter.

5. Get social. If you live in an area that sees changing fall leaves, plan a different ride route to view the colours and then a lunch afterwards as a reward.

6. Substitute one ride per week with another activity. Outdoor activities could include hiking, and indoor ones could include a fitness class, a weight or core stability workout or a yoga class designed for cyclists. The stronger your body and core, the better cyclist you’ll be.

These are just a few ideas to help keep you motivated. If you have some of your own please leave a comment and share them with other readers. Get out there, stay warm and dry and enjoy all that fall has to offer.

If you have a question you’d like Diane to answer please email it to [email protected] Diane Stibbard Ask a Pro

As a world-class duathlete, Diane Stibbard brings a rare combination of expertise, motivation and knowledge to her coaching. She knows that the driving force to reach any goal comes from a deep desire within. As a trainer, she has a unique ability to help individuals embrace this desire to achieve their athletic potential.

Diane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training.

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, contact Diane at [email protected] or at LinkedIn.

Training for a two-day cycling event


Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.



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