Top 10 Off Season Activities for Cyclists
1) Cross Country Ski. This is probably the most popular and trendy winter activity for cyclists and not without reason. Nordic skiing is very demanding of the cardiovascular system and elite xc skiers generally rank as having the highest VO2 maximum levels of any athletes in the world. Getting out on xc skies is a great way to train your heart and lungs so next race season your legs start burning before your lungs do. Many top cyclists, such as former mountain bike world champ Catherine Pendrel, do a lot of cross country skiing and even include some racing in their Nordic season. Cyclists tend to gravitate towards skate skiing as opposed to classic for a couple of reasons. Firstly, with skating you don’t have to deal with grip wax which is required for classic technique, and with icy or warm snow conditions grip wax can be a major hassle. Secondly, skate skiing tends to use your legs more and less arms, which is a better match with a T-Rex cycling physique .
2) Hit the Gym. During the busy cycling season it can be hard to find time to go to the gym, but proper gym workouts can improve strength, power, and muscle recruitment on the bike. Cyclists should also use this time to build up their core strength which will provide more stability and injury prevention during the race season. Your significant other likely won’t complain about the 6-pack either.
3) Run. It sucks and you will probably wish you were on your bike instead, but it is easy and convenient way to get in a quick cardio workout. Keep your runs short initially and on softer surfaces, higher frequency with shorter duration will help you avoid injury and adapt quickly to the impact of running.
4) Rest & Sleep. A key purpose of the off-season is to recharge your body and mind so you are ready and motivated to train and race hard again soon. Rest is important and can be fun, catch up on reading and watching movies.
5)Work. Sadly most of use have to do it. Now that you are not travelling to races and spending longs days on your bike, channel some of that time and energy into your profession. Be productive and start building a foundation for the year so you are set up for success and can take some time off when needed next race season. Don’t forget to set goals and when you achieve them reward yourself, a new set of race wheels or exotic race/training destination can be the motivation you need to get things done in the office.
6) Rock Climb. A less obvious off-season activity but just about every city has an indoor climbing gym. Climbing is a fun way to build up some upper body and core strength without bulking up. Plus indoor climbing can be fairly social and it is good way to expand your circle of friends.
7) Swim. It doesn’t matter how ugly the weather is outside the (indoor) pool is always the same. Swimming is a great way to stretch out, open up your chest, and improve your posture. Breakout the flutter board to strengthen your hip flexors and stabilizer muscles to provide more stability on the bike.
8) Snowshoe. Less popular than xc skiing, going for a snowshoe is a fun winter activity that is growing in popularity. Snowshoe technology has come a long way and they are surprisingly cheap, so if you have some old snowshoes in the garage donate them to Salvation Army and treat yourself to a new set.
9) Hike. A possible alternative to snowshoeing if there is no snow. A fairly low key activity that gets you out into nature and away from the hustle of daily life.
10) Turbo Trainer. Yuck! I know, but start your favorite movie and do an easy spin. A few trainer rides will make your pedal strokes feel less like squares when you get back on the bike. Don’t push yourself, when you get sick of the trainer and keep checking the clock then stop.
About the Author:
Craig Richey is a multiple time Canadian National team member, representing Canada at mountain bike World Cups and cyclocross World Championships. Craig is currently doing an MBA in Boston and recently launched SponsorConnected.com