Mar 13, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Laura Wheatley


Are you longing for warm summer rides? Lacking motivation to train due to the darkness and chilly weather? You are not alone! Here are nine tips that will spice up your cycling this winter and come spring, you will be a stronger, faster athlete!

1. Tackle the Trainer

Bicycle trainers allow you to mount and ride your own bicycle in the comfort of your home.  Prices range from $50-$1500 with features such as noise reduction and even interfacing to your computer to ride the course of your next race.  There are cycling workout DVDs that you can buy to guide your workouts, such as Spinervals or The Sufferfest. Or, what better way to catch up on your DVR or Netflix?

2. Maximize Your Workout With Interval Training

Although your goal may be to ride a 100 mi.+ event this year, you don’t necessarily have to slog it out for hours at a time indoors this winter. Train your high-end aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways with shorter, more intense workouts this winter. This will improve your ability to tolerate and clear lactate, a byproduct of intense exercise; thus, you will be able to sustain harder intensities and recover more quickly. You will also improve your body’s neuromuscular ability to recruit and fire more muscle fibers, translating into better form and more powerful muscle contractions.

During the spring, you can build into an aerobic cycle when it is more enjoyable to ride for hours outside.

3. Take a Cycling Class

If motivation is low or you are getting lonely cycling in your basement, there is definitely power in numbers!  Take a cycling class at your local gym, or even better, find a class that utilizing bike trainers that you can still use your own bike (like Max Testa training centers or Balanced Art Multisport weekend rides).

4. Participate in Cycling Challenge

Set a goal for yourself (i.e. 30 rides in 30 days) or check out an organized cycling challenge such as The Sufferfest’s Tour of Sufferlandria! This challenge consists of 10 days of consecutive cycling starting on January 25th.

5. Ride Outside!

When the roads are dry, gear up and head outdoors!  With the low humidity and calm wind, you CAN ride comfortably in mild winter temperatures when you are appropriately geared up. BONUS: you will look REALLY hardcore.

6. Cross-Train With Winter Sports

It can be refreshing to take a break from your primary sport! Plus, by participating in different sports, you will strengthen your muscles in different ways: For example, cycling is done primarily in a fixed sagittal plane (front to back). If you cross country/skate-ski during the winter, you will work and strengthen your outer glutes and hips in ways that you couldn’t do sitting in a saddle!

Another example is downhill skiing may improve your coordination and confidence descending on the bike. Taking advantage of the “best snow on earth” is a must-do for Utahns. Snowshoe race anyone?

7. Get Proper Gear and a Bike Fit

Perhaps you have a little extra Christmas cash burning a hole in your pocket—a great way to spend it would be on a proper bike fit. This is must-do for any serious cyclist, as it will maximize your comfort and performance on the bike.

8. Strength Train

The winter is great time to work on strength, range of motion and durability. Strength training will improve your power and climbing, as well as reduce your risk of injury.

9. Baseline Performance Testing

Depending on what you have access to, body composition testing or performance testing, such as VO2max, lactate threshold and metabolic assessments can establish your aerobic capacity, performance baselines, and training zones for your upcoming season. Retesting will enable you to monitor progress and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.


Laura Wheatley

Laura Wheatley is a PhD student in Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Utah, and is an exercise physiologist at PEAK Health and Fitness. She is a USA Triathlon-certified coach. Over the past 10 years, she has completed 10 Iron-distance triathlons along with numerous other endurance events.

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