Now that the holiday cookies are gone, and all the chocolate treats have been devoured, it’s time to focus on getting back to basics. For cyclists, the winter months always prove to be a challenge when it comes to training, no matter what your goals are for the upcoming race season. For some, the inability to ride during the day because of work hours can cause frustration, and lack of interest in training. Since most of us are not seasoned professionals, and can’t go where the weather is warmer, we have to make the best of the situation. That being said, if you want to have a successful year on the bike, the time is now to prepare for the months ahead. Here are a few ways to get started on your new cycling season.
Miles: I’m talking about base mileage ladies and gentleman, and those miles will be the foundation of your season. While riding outdoors may be difficult during the work week, the weekends will give you the best chance to get those precious road miles in. Riding with a group will help you get motivated to ride through the cold, and keep it fun at the same time. At the Caffeinated Cyclist, road rides leave Sunday morning from the shop at 9am, and all riders are welcome to join! Along with riding with the group on the weekends, be sure to keep track of your miles with a Cyclist’s Training Diary. If you have a GPS cycling computer or a GPS enabled smart phone, you can upload files through software like Garmin Connect, Strava, or Map My Ride. With these applications, all your data is stored automatically, and you can keep track of what your friends are doing also! There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, right?
Training With Power: Yup, just like the 90’s band Snap said on their #1 hit “I’ve got the power”, well, you do have the power! Unlike the early days of training with heart rate, technology has allowed us to train more specifically with power, or watts as they’re called. Training with power can maximize your training time and give you a more accurate understanding of your fitness. This doesn’t mean heart rate training is obsolete; in fact training with both heart rate and power can go hand in hand. There are many options to choose from when looking at power measuring devices. Companies like, Garmin, CycleOps, SRM, Quarq, and Stages Cycling offer products that will help meet budget and training goals. Choosing the right power meter is the first step, after that, working with a doctor or coach to determine specific training goals will take you all the way. The Performance Lab, in Cherry Hill, N.J., is a great place to start with testing. Dr. Michael Ross has worked with amateur and professional athletes for many years, and can help you plan out specific goals for the year, all while training with power!
Indoor Cycling: Dreading riding your bike indoors? Well don’t. With today’s technology, being bored while riding indoors is a thing of the past. Many companies are offering virtual reality trainers at more affordable prices. The company Tacx carries the i-Genius which allows you to ride through a virtual world that’s so real you won’t be able to tell you’re riding indoors! New on the market is the Powerbeam Pro Trainer from Cycleops, which uses PowerTap technology for maximum accuracy. With Cyclops, you can create custom rides with the CyclopsOps virtual training software and GOOGLE maps, so you’ll never have to ride the same road twice! If riding inside at home doesn’t motivate you, then indoor spin classes might be what you’re looking for. Indoor spin studios, like CycleOn Studios in Sicklerville, N.J., offer daily spin classes with instructors that keep you motivated through the winter. You can ride one of their spin bikes, or bring your own bike and ride one of their three Kurt Kenetic Rock and Roll trainers!
Weight Training: While cyclists aren’t known for bulking up and putting on muscle mass, time spent at the gym can offer more than just lifting weights. Specific weight training can improve muscle fiber strength, and give you more punch out of the saddle. Many cyclists also focus on core strength workouts, something most cyclists don’t pay attention to. Strengthening your core muscles improves mobility and flexibility on the bike. Many cyclists suffer from lower back pain, or muscle pain because they neglect strengthening their core. Working with a personal trainer will allow you to properly exercise, without causing injury to yourself, so be sure to speak with someone that is knowledgeable in that area of exercise. You don’t want to cause an injury that will jeopardize you cycling season!
The important thing to remember is to have fun, and mix up your training. Focusing on too many details could cause you to burn out early in the year, and nobody wants to do that. Allotting time spent on the bike and at the gym will help change things up, and something as simple as riding a different route on the road, will certainly make it more fun. Whatever you decide, the key is that it’s your time, so make the most of it!