Keeping Bike Fitness Throughout New England Winters
It’s that time of year up here in New England, WINTER! So what the heck do we do to keep our bike fitness throughout our LONG Winter…
Lucky for us, there are quite a few things we CAN do, not only keep from losing what we worked so hard to build but to ACTUALLY …get into even better fitness!!!
#1: Put the road & TT bikes away and dust off the Mt bike!! Fun way to change things up, so different after months of road, constantly changing terrain and rapid accelerations/decelerations… great for building strength! In terms of temperature, it is much warmer in woods & trails due to a significant drop in wind compared to the open roads and your speed is much slower when on the mountain biker. Less wind and slower speeds both play huge roles in making you feel warmer! Just remember, comparing mileage between road and mountain bike workouts is fruitless, apples to oranges folks. For example; my last 3hr road equaled about 54mi, compared to my first 3hr technical mountain bike ride which equaled only 12mi!
#2: Once snow HITS…..get out the fat bikes! They have huge tires which roll right over snow and ice!!
#3: Spin Classes: Most provide a variety of simulated terrain and speeds, they can be tremendously useful to keep up cardio/motor memory. Many are limited to just 50-60min, however, often you may find you have the option of staying in back to back classes which can then make it easy to get 2hr of training in.
#4: Home Trainer Based Workouts – Main Focus today
One Major Benefit for trainer based workouts is that you get more bang for the buck in the TIME spent department. In general 45 minutes on the trainer equals about 60 minutes on the road. How: Think about it, there are no stops for traffic lights, stop signs, intersections, no stopping to eat, fuel etc, and no coasting!
ALSO SAFER!! I love riding outdoors but really it is a ZOO out there, especially with the added dangers of distracted drivers courtesy of smart phones. Sadly you do not have to look far, to find many reports of terrible accidents where cyclists have been hit by cars.
Some professional athletes, perhaps the most famous, Andy Potts, is known for doing virtually ALL his bike training indoors.
Types of Indoor trainers:
Basic resistant trainers (NON Computerized): These utilize wind, magnets or Fluid encapsulated units to generate resistance. These are now being built to feel smoother and provide a more road like feel. Many are designed such that in order to change resistance levels you simple switch gears. Some older generation basic unites had levers or switches to change resistance.
Rollers: Great for keeping balance intact, but are easy to crash off of (see Youtube for numerous examples)
Smart trainers: These are GAME CHANGERS! Smart trainers use computers to modulate resistance levels, therefore, giving you the ability to dial in exactly the level of resistance desired. They often sync with numerous programs that allow you to ride pre-programmed rides or in many cases you can plug in a bike workout from your coach or training plan!
The big benefit is with these trainers there is No more slacking! If you are feeling tired and fail to put out the wattage required by the workout, it will grind you to a halt!
Popular programs include; Zwift, Cycleops Virtual Training, and Trainer Road. These programs let you pick actual courses and the computer will create the nearly identical resistance at each point along the road, want to ride that 13 mi stretch of climbs on the back of the IMLP course, no problem, you can do it from home!!
Guess What? It’s even better, many of these programs allow you to virtually race people from all over the world!!!
I hear they are AWESOME, I haven’t yet tried them because frankly, I am having a blast using Trainer Road to program my coaches workouts into my trainer and then I will stream Netflix! Currently I am biking through The Walking Dead…
Tips on Setting up your own training space aka Pain cave
- Get a trainer! Examples, Kurt Kinetic, CycleOps Power Beam Pro (the model I currently use), Tacx, Computrainer, Lemond,Wahoo Kicker, etc
- Get a mat that you can put under your bike and trainer to allow for easy clean-up. Trust me, the sweat piles up fast!!
- Fan/Air circulator, unless training for a HOT race
- Stand(s) for water/fuel/gels/food
- Sound system! Even those small set of speakers with subwoofers for laptops do a fine job.
- Simple Shelf to set computer/laptop, try to set at normal eye level to keep neck shoulders, back used to bike position
USE IT, WORK HARD!!!
So there you have it, despite the inevitable fact that winter is here in the Northeast, we do have many different options to use to not only keep up our bike fitness, but if we plan smart, we should come out of winter both stronger and faster!!