Training Tips for Winter 2021
Winter 2021 Training Tips
Happy New Year! We’ve made it all the way through 2020. How are you easing into it? Hopefully you’re looking forward to some cycling adventures in 2021 — even if those adventures are closer to home than your normal vacation.
We’re working hard to make this year better than ever. Our bike tour guides are, too! We reached out to them for some tips on keeping fit through the winter.
Their unique personalities and approaches to life shine through with their individual approaches to making it through the “off -season”.
Andres – Kansas City, Missouri:
When it comes to riding outside, there is no such thing as poor weather, just poor choice of clothing. Riding in the cold can be enjoyable and very productive, and the more comfortable you are, the effective your outing will be. Plan ahead, and plan for the unexpected.
Think layers when it comes to clothing. Lightweight, packable items are easy to stow away and help you fine tune your comfort level. Beware of overheating. A good rule of thumb is to choose clothing that will make you feel just a little cold when you first get on the bike, but just right after your body starts warming up. This can be trial and error, so practice until you get it right! Sweating too much during the winter can just be dangerous.
Don’t leave the house without a good set of lights, front and back. Daylight is limited in the winter time, and when the sun goes down, bright lights that help you see and help others see you are your best ally.
Sometimes riding outside is just not an option, so jumping on the bike in the comfort of your home will help you stay on track with your goals. A trainer is an awesome investment for winter cyclists.
You can use a “smart” trainer to ride in virtual worlds and follow along with live workout videos. A smart trainer even gives you resistance to replicate the virtual terrain you’re riding on.
Smart trainers are pricey, so you can also connect your basic trainer to a virtual platform by installing speed and cadence sensors. But If you’re not into all the sensors and metrics, you can hop on a basic trainer and follow along with an online workout video (some of these are even free on Youtube).
Kathy – Harrisville, West Virginia:
Commit to and make a plan to do some type of physical exercise every day. But make it fun and something you look forward to doing.
Here are some ideas:
– I like to do morning yoga with a friend using Zoom. When you commit to exercise with a friend you are more likely to show up because your friend is waiting for you.
– Layer up and go outside and walk in nature. The fresh air and sunshine will boost your mood.
– Take a spin on your indoor bike trainer while watching your favorite show or listening to music.
Teri – St. Louis, Missouri:
I train indoors on a trainer with my regular road bike (because it makes the transfer to the outside easier if I have the same bike), but I ride my touring bike or fat bike outside a couple of days a week regardless of the temperature.
I don’t get too far away from home because I don’t want to have to stop to fix a mechanical issue. If you stop to fix something while you’re damp and sweaty, your body temperature cools quickly, which could lead to hypothermia in cold conditions.
I choose instead to do loops, in a park, all the way around a town, or such. I have a three mile loop around my town that I can do several times (or one if really cold!), but I am always close enough to someplace to get warm if I need to.
Paul – Elmira, New York:
For me, riding in the winter can be as fun and beautiful as during the summer. It’s all about heat control. I leave the summer cycling gear in the drawer, no tech or lycra for me. I’m not worried about trying to look like I’m going to the Tour de France. I wear what works. And the truth is, my winter “kit” has me looking more like a rodeo clown than a bike racer!
Here’s a great trick for those of us with poor insulation on the “roof.” Put tape over the forward facing vents on your hemet. That will keep the wind out and keep your noggin warm.
In the winter I like to keep my rides on the shorter side and closer to home. Riding loops while exploring neighborhoods is a fun change from “serious” rides. Plus being close to home allows me to bail out easily if the weather turns bad.
Also I tend to avoid big hills. Climbing a hill will certainly get me warm but flying down the other side can be super chilly. Flat to rolling routes are what I choose. Just getting on the bike for a little saddle time is all it takes to keep some base fitness. It’s totally worth it, too. Riding along a road or path with snow in the fields, blue skies, chickadees chirping in the sunshine, and red tail hawks circling overhead is the best.
Gary – Harrisburg, PA:
Winter and and all the things that come with it, especially this year, make winter training a challenge. I say, make it interesting, mix it up, keep it fresh. I suggest aerobic exercise in any form. It doesn’t have to be on your bike. Here are some options:
– Walk or run
– Stationary bike (quite the range of products here. Did Santa bring you a Peloton?)
– Cross-country skiing
– Nordic track ski machine (people are throwing them away)
– Take stairs instead of the elevator
Add a few squats or lunges into your day. Start with 5 of each in the morning and then slowly do this multiple times a day, then take up the reps. There are a number of variations to help keep it mixed up and build strength.
Colleen & Montana – somewhere in the USA
Usually we leave the United States completely in the winter to go bike touring in another (warmer) country. That’s been a great way to build fitness over the winter months.
But this year we had to change our plans to stay closer to home. We loaded a Jeep with our camping gear and mountain bikes and drove to Florida. It’s been awesome to do some camping and riding here in the sunny south.
Even if you can’t flee south for the winter, this time of year gives you the opportunity to mix up your fitness routine. It’s a good mental break to do a bit of hiking, running or yoga. Cross training is also a great way to strengthen other muscle groups you might not use often.
Since all in-person classes shut down in the spring, Colleen’s favorite pandemic yoga tool has been glo.com. It offers an amazing variety of classes. Many local studios have started offering online classes for a minimal fee, which can be a great way to keep supporting them through this tough time.
You can also use the winter time to teach yourself a new sport! In the past couple years, Montana has picked up skateboarding in his free time.
While we don’t recommend skateboarding per se (newbies spend a LOT of time falling down), you can try a lower impact winter sport like snowshoeing or fat biking. Or let out your inner child at a sledding hill! (Bonus – grown-ups are heavier, so they can go way faster than kids.) No snow to play in? Try online classes. Maybe learn to dance and impress your fellow bike touring friends later this year!
Do something, it is better than doing nothing.
Establishing a new habit begins with the first step.
Incorporate activity into your daily routine.
The activity you choose has to work with your lifestyle.
Winter fitness takes more planning and creativity.
Hopefully some of these tips can help you prepare for a rejuvenating and productive winter. If you’re interested in meeting more of our bike tour guides, visit our guide page to learn about the folks running your next adventure!