Question: 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. – Steve Koester
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Hiking even for a bit over a week won't really impact your cycling fitness negatively.
In fact, it might be beneficial because you'll be using cycling muscles in a different way. Think of it as a short block of cross-training in the middle of the season. And in addition to the physical benefit, there's a great psychological lift from doing something different. After the hiking trip you'll be eager to get back on the bike.
I have backpacked, hiked and climbed in Colorado for 46 years, and it has always been a great complement to cycling for the reasons listed above.
After a 4-day backpacking trip in the San Juan Mountains a few years ago, I was markedly better on the local climbs when I got back on the bike. I needed a few days of easy spinning to get my legs back into cycling mode, but then I experienced a real jump in form. I've noticed this on several occasions.
Even a hard, one-day hike in the mountains is good for a boost in cycling form after a few days.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.