Coaching: To take a winter break or not? Sean Kelly’s view

Posted on: October 3rd, 2017

Sean Kelly advice winter cycling break

Sean Kelly warns against overdoing it, says there is no need to go near climbs in training and urges sportive riders not to be put off by the fact an event may be long or have a few climbs in it (Photo: Lorrain O’Sullivan – Inpho)


Sean Kelly advice on taking winter cycling break


Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly has offered up some golden pieces of advice to sportive riders aiming to tackle big events next year.

Former world No 1 Kelly believes for riders to improve they must not take a long winter break.

And, in advice that may surprise; he says those preparing for sportives should not be so keen to ride big climbs when training for their events.

“If you cut off training for four or five months, it’s so difficult to get back to the level you were at in the summer,” said Sean Kelly.

“The message is simple, keep on doing something. Be it spinning classes, something on the turbo. And then maybe just do something on the (the road) at the weekend as well.

“Obviously work and the weather can make that hard. But if you can get out once on the weekend and do a bike ride during the winter it will really stand to you.

“I think a lot of people make the mistake where they just finish cycling after the last sportive of the year. The Tour of Waterford, or the Rebel Tour in Cork or whatever.

“They just stop after it and take out their bikes again in March. That is not a good thing to do.”

He also said people need not be intimidated by the length of some events, or indeed a difficult route on paper.

“People think that because there’s hills in the sportives, they seem to think they’ve to train on hills,” he explained.

“Even if they’ve taken a few months off in the winter, they get back on the bike a week or two and they start going up these huge hills. That’s something you don’t have to do.

“Instead, do a two-hour basic spin. Then a 2½ hour spin, then three hours. And if you can do it on a flat, maybe undulating road, that’s okay.

“I see guys around our area all the time; they’re biking in mid-Summer after taking the bike out in March.

“You meet them in May and they’re riding laps of Mahon Falls. They’re doing that because they’re going to be riding it in the Tour of Waterford.

“They ride from Carrick and Clonmel and go straight to the climb but you don’t do it that way.

“First of all, you start a build-up of your basic fitness and basic distance. That means ‘x’ numbers of hours and slowly build it up.

“You can do the climbs three or three weeks before the event, not months before it.”