Off Season Training

Building Power on the Trainer and on the Road

Sunday it was 62F (17C) in Boulder, Colorado, and I went for a great endurance ride up to Jamestown, a cluster of 250 homes at 6,926 feet (2,105 m) elevation. Although the weather was warm there was still ice in James Creek. And, sure enough, Monday's weather was windy, wet and very cold (back down to freezing). Good trainer weather, in other words. This "shoulder season," as winter becomes spring, is perfect for trainer workouts on those days when the weather still won't let you ride outside.

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Three Tight Muscle Groups to Stretch Out this Off-Season

As a cyclist (really, as a typical person), it's extremely common for us to experience tight muscles in our daily lives. A tight muscle is a short muscle, and a short muscle cannot provide the power that a long muscle can. So, we need to stretch out those muscles to make them long again. The three tightest muscle groups that can affect us roadies are our hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. But it's clear that doing some specific stretches to help lengthen these muscles groups can have a profoundly positive effect on our riding.

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Can Hiking Be a Good Training Tool?

What is the best way to stay in cycling shape this summer? I'm doing a 5-day ride May 20-24, about 70 miles per day. Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway June 4-11. Would like to do 3-4 century rides this summer but also will be doing several backpack trips where I won't be able to ride for 7-10 days and will be swimming twice per week [1 hour at fairly high intensity]. What is the best way to maintain cycling fitness or get it back after laying off for a hiking trip? Thanks much for any advice.

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It's All About That Base

When I was enjoying the quietude and long views of winter on a recent ride, my mind wandered to a popular song from last year that captured the spirit and intent of my riding this time of year: "All About that Base," by Meghan Trainor (who just won a Best New Artist Grammy last week). OK, so any of you who might have heard that song on the radio knows that it's actually waxing (unpoetically) about a certain attribute of the female anatomy. But I'm stealing it for the purposes of cycling anyway.

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Getting 'Fat' in the Winter

I’m a roadie, but riding the roads of suburban Chicago during the winter can be challenging. In addition to the danger, snow, ice and salt can wreak havoc on a bike. And riding the trainer is always low on my list compared to heading outdoors. So, last year my boyfriend and I decided to test ride fat tire bikes. We rented them from a local bike shop and went across the street to a forest preserve. As we headed out the door, the sales guy yelled “when in doubt, run it over!”

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Cross-Train for Fun and Fitness this Winter

XC ski season started for me several weeks ago. I prefer to cross-train through the winter, still riding occasionally but not exclusively, and I really enjoy XC skiing. No matter which of the numerous non-cycling activities you like to do to round out your off-season workout regimen, cross-training in the winter delivers myriad benefits to your cycling and overall health. Even if you live in a climate that allows you to ride year-round, taking a break from full-time riding and working some other activities into your routine is still a good idea. Here's why:

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Will Heavy Leg Weights Help My Cycling?

I'm doing a leg workout that's so hard I can handle it only once per week: one set of squats or leg presses, one set of leg extensions, one set of calf raises. Each exercise is for 20-60 reps until failure; I can't possibly do another rep. I'm already getting stronger, so how much improvement I can expect in my cycling next summer?

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How to Maintain Fitness, Gain Freshness and Enjoy the Holidays

Brent Bookwalter, who races for BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, choose recovery. Think of the holidays as time for quality recovery, a time to gain freshness. Freshness means that you are fully recovered from all of your fall activities and ready – physically and mentally – for the next round of training. The holidays are a precious time to spend with family and friends. I give all of my clients at least a week off from training around Christmas and New Year’s. Enjoy your time off, too!

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How to Make the Most of Your Trainer Time

Here's a cycling truism for the season: Riding on the road is fun. Riding on the trainer is not fun (unless you’re a masochist!). If you're a typical roadie, though, you’re always looking for ways to improve: better equipment, smarter training, losing weight, etc. So, figuring out a way to add your trainer time to this list of ways to improve makes perfect sense. Your trainer is a useful tool you can use to tune up your cycling – without driving yourself batty in the process.

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How Can I Cope With Early Darkness?

I'm in Louisiana. It's not cold here. It doesn't snow. Winter riding should be easy. But the early darkness is killing me. I feel like it’s dangerous to ride when it’s dark. Worse, not riding on weekdays makes me feel sedentary and I can’t get motivated to ride even on weekends. How can I deal with this?

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