A cyclist’s guide to surviving Christmas

From nabbing the last roast potato to sneaking out for a ride

Deck the halls with loads of bike kit, fa-la-la-la-la la-la la la! ‘Tis the season to go cycling… so long as you can escape those pesky familial commitments such as washing up or the post-dinner sofa lounging.


Yes, we know that doesn’t scan, but the pain is real for many cyclists over the festive period.

Trapped indoors with no hope of escape to the trails or tarmac, it’s enough to drive you up the walls. Here’s our guide on how to survive, and maybe even get in a sneaky ride or two.

How to nab the last roast potato

William Revel / Getty

The Last Roast Potato. It sits there, gloriously crispy on the outside, fluffy, white and carbohydrate-packed on the inside, all alone in the dish just waiting for someone to make their move. That someone should be you.

You’ll be doing lots of riding over Christmas, and you need to make sure you’re well fuelled to compensate for the energy you’ll be expending when you’re out. This goes doubly for our Northern Hemisphere-based readers who’ll also be battling against the cold, snow, rain or quite possibly all three.

Your family surely don’t want you to bonk when you’re out, do they?

So chow down on that little crispy parcel of tastiness, and why not wash it down with a little more turkey. You’ve earned it.

How to deal with present disappointment

Hoping for a sight like this under the Christmas tree this year?
Hoping for a sight like this under the Christmas tree this year?
Dimitri Otis / Getty

You bound down the stairs towards the tree, overtaking pets and small children, to rip the wrapping off the parcel with your name on it. It’s big enough for a new groupset! Or maybe some fresh rubber? How about a stash of clothing for your new year riding plans? You open your gift and find… well, it’s not quite what you wanted.

One of the first obstacles you might face is convincing your co-travellers that bringing your bike with you is a good idea

Disappointment often lurks beneath the tree, unless you’ve already had a frank discussion with your family about what Santa should focus his attention on. And while we fully appreciate it’s the thought that counts, why not swap it for something you actually need or want? After all, that’s what gift receipts were invented for.

So, to help you through the tricky process of profusely thanking the gift-giver, while gently suggesting that the gift in question might not be quite what you wanted and can you swap it, we’ve supplied a selection of tailor-made excuses. Deploy strategically:

  1. Oh, it’s lovely! But sadly it’s not compatible with my bottom bracket/head set/wheel size/hubs (delete as appropriate) — mind if I swap it?
  2. You know, I’ve always wanted a chocolate fountain/donut maker/candyfloss machine, but I’ve just signed up for a big event and I need to watch what I eat. Can I exchange it for a NutriBullet?
  3. That perfume/aftershave IS lovely, but I’m worried I wouldn’t get the use out of it. Did you know that Rapha do a lovely chamois cream though? I’d certainly get use out of that!

How to avoid the washing up

If you do offer to help with the washing up, expect major brownie points
If you do offer to help with the washing up, expect major brownie points
Gary Burchell / Getty Images

The washing up is everyone’s least favourite chore on Christmas Day. A massive pile of crockery, cutlery and pans the height of a person, with burnt-on bits of roast parsnip, congealing custard and the inevitable leftover sprout remains.

Act rowdy and annoying until someone tells you to leave. Risky, and not very festive

Here’s how to avoid several hours spent with your hands in sudsy, gravy-stained water and get out for a ride instead.

  1. Fake falling asleep on the sofa until someone else starts doing it. Wait until everyone else is asleep, then very, very quietly sneak out the door. Make sure you have your kit prepped in advance.
  2. Offer to help a small child assemble some kind of model. ‘Realise’ that you need a tool from your garage. Sneak off for a ride.
  3. More than one of you? Say you have to pop round someone’s (think of someone plausible) house to drop off a gift and go for a short ride instead. Brief the other party ahead of time. Or ensure the other party also rides bikes, and head off together.
  4. Couples: you could try using the ‘we need to visit the other set of parents’ excuse. Or plan ahead and make this a legitimate excuse, stopping for a ride between visits.
  5. Act rowdy and annoying until someone tells you to leave. Risky, and not very festive.

WARNING: There may be serious repercussions with the deployment of these, including broken trust and the banning of any further cycling activity over the festive period.

OR, and this is our favourite suggestion, you could OFFER to do the washing up. Give your family a rest, pop on some festive tunes or your favourite bike movie, and get stuck into that sudsy bowl.

You’ll get a great sense of contributing to the festive spirit, and can head out for a ride afterwards with a clear conscience. Hell, why not bring everyone with you?

How to bring your bike away with you for Christmas

Are you staying with family this Christmas? One of the first obstacles you might face is convincing your co-travellers that bringing your bike with you is a good idea, particularly if the car is already crammed with people and presents. There are a few of options here:

  1. The first is obviously to ensure your family are also into cycling, which means everyone is on board with the idea in the first place — of COURSE you’d bring your bikes away with you. Duh!
  2. If you have kids and bought them bikes for Christmas, then simply explain innocently that they’ll want to go for a ride on them ASAP and you’ll need your bike to keep up with them.
  3. Buy a van so you can bring lots of bikes with you and all the Christmas bits and pieces. Pricey, unless you already own a van.
  4. Convince them that it will help keep you fit/sane/out of the way when things get busy.

How to get out for a sneaky ride

'Oh what fun it is to ride...on a beautiful Christmas Day!'
‘Oh what fun it is to ride… on a beautiful Christmas Day!’
Manuel Sulzer / Getty

When the house is full of guests and there are presents to unwrap and telly to watch, excusing yourself to get out for a ride can be tricky. For some reason, people think it’s a little antisocial, but we can’t work out why? So if you do need to nip out for a quick spin, try the following:

  1. You’ve forgotten something from the shops? I’ll just zip down and get it for you. If I go by bike, I won’t get caught in the Christmas traffic!
  2. We CAN’T have Christmas without mistletoe! I saw some in the woods when I was out riding the other day and I’m sure I can get some from there. Back shortly!

But you know what works best of all? Get EVERYONE out for a bike ride.


No, it might not be quite the pace you were planning or the training distance you were aiming for, but you know what? You’re still out on your bike AND you’re with your friends/family, and if that isn’t quality time well spent, we don’t know what is.