I get a little bit of blowback, from time to time, about not riding more often outdoors through the winter. The All Seasons Cyclist used to hit me every time I wrote a post like this as a matter of fact. Truth be told, I could ride outside a little more, if I lowered my expectations a lot and bundled up a little better. About those expectations though, that’s a bigger problem than Just bundling up.
See, I have a built-in inner ass-kicker that won’t let me go slow except under very strict circumstances… Say I’m out for a Friday recovery ride with my wife, no worries, I can turn the ass-kicker off. It is, after all, a recovery ride and they have their place in keeping me fast – maybe as much as my interval days. Winter riding hasn’t qualified so far though – I want my ride to be a workout so cruising around the sixteen mile block at twelve miles an hour on the mountain bike just doesn’t do it for me. Add to that the reality of having to rebuild my mountain bike from the ground up every few years due to riding in the snow and salt and that I hate the cold – I’m just not the guy.
That said, depending on the group with which you ride in-season, if I’m going to keep up (and hopefully better, spend more time up front) come April, I have to pay the piper one way or another.
So I put in maybe 80 or 90 hours each and every winter on the turbo, cranking out the miles so that come Springtime I can comfortably hang with my friends. This isn’t the only way, of course. Many people will hit the gym, swim, weight-train at home, run… Whatever the choice, the fact remains: If I want to have any chance of enjoying the beginning of the season, I must pick my poison to keep my fitness through the winter. This is not so lofty a goal as maintaining my weight either, though that is a nice benefit. No, I work hard through the winter simply because everyone else I ride with is.
I tried taking it easy last winter (well, easier) and I paid for it till June. I was shortsighted. The thinking was, I worked really hard all season long, and I did get quite fast, so I thought it would be okay to maintain that fitness with shorter spins on the grinder than the year before. I misused what time I did put in on the trainer. I took it too easy and wound up shorting myself. When the beginning of the season rolled around I had to make up for the deficit. Fitness being a cumulative deal, I actually had to work harder than my friends to catch up while they were working to get into summer shape.
This year I changed up. I took a few weeks of leisure before absolutely hammering the trainer. I’m working on harder gears at higher cadences and greater durations with the hope that this Spring I won’t have a gap to close. We shall see how that goes.
Hey, on another note, what is that glowing orb in the sky?!