Winter TrainingJan Heine
I enjoy the annual rhythm of the seasons. It encourages me to change my cycling and exercise, like a farmer rotating crops and leaving some fields fallow for a while.
The early months of the year remind me of preparing the soil and sowing that year’s crop. This means base training: long rides with friends at a moderate pace, along with stops in cafés to warm up. It’s a great way to get out of the city and escape the “blues” that winter in Seattle can bring.
As spring arrives, the first shoots of the plants poke through the soil. It’s a time to tend them to ensure they grow. On a bike, this means working on speed and endurance. At first, the intensity can be hard, but it’s also invigorating to get back into the swing of cycling. Randonneur brevets provide a great opportunity, as each ride is training for the next, longer one.
Summer is the time to harvest the fruits of all the labor. On a bike, this means those long rides in the mountains that I’ve yearned to do all year. The preparation pays dividends as we soar up mountain passes and ride through the night. This glorious season stretches into autumn, until the first snow closes the mountain passes.
Then comes the time to rest and recover. As it rains outside from October through December, I sit at my desk with a cup of hot chocolate and catch up on work. I try to get ahead so I can take off time next summer. Not riding “seriously” for a few months allows me to recharge my enthusiasm for cycling. It lets my body recover, and hopefully reach even greater heights next year.
During these rest months, I still ride for transportation and the occasional weekend jaunt with friends, but there are no efforts for speed or training. Rides rarely are more than 3 hours in duration.
This time off the bike does not mean that I don’t exercise at all! This is a good time for cross-training. I go running a few times a week. I enjoy this, and I like to think that it helps to maintain my bone density, since I run on steep trails. I also go to the gym and work on core strength, stretching, and building overall strength, mostly as a means to prevent cycling-related overuse injuries. Running and the gym make it fun to take some time off the bike. These other workouts ensure that I still work up a sweat a few times a week and enjoy the glow that comes with vigorous exercise.
Do you take time off your bike, and if yes, what do you do during the off-season?