Question: I have a strange question for someone like you who lives in a cold climate. I’m in Phoenix and the winter weather begs me to come out and enjoy it. I just finished a great cycling year that included numerous double centuries, brevets and Paris-Brest-Paris. I want to ride long distances and have fun doing it this year, too.
Even though it’s January, I still want to ride every day. But I also feel like I should be taking it easy right now in advance of the coming season. Should I back off? Not to gloat, but I hope you’re not snowed in as you read this! — Mike S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: We’re not exactly snowed in, but we got five inches yesterday and it was below zero last night. Today it’s weights and the indoor trainer! But I like winter in Colorado for the reason you mention — it provides a break from riding, and I enjoy crosstraining with snowshoeing in the nearby mountains.
You’re right. I tend to identify with roadies who live in cold climates and want to stay in cycling shape but can’t ride outside enough to do it in the winter. On the other hand, there are riders like you who have some of their best cycling weather in midwinter. Let’s call you Sunbelt riders.
Cold and inclement winter weather can be a big advantage when it forces you off the bike and increases motivation. Watch the snow fly for three months and you’ll be dying to ride come March. When the climate doesn’t give you a natural break, overtraining and loss of motivation are always a threat.
Here are four ways to deal with your warm-winter situation.
- Establish your goals and a schedule. If you want to peak for midseason events, you’ll be less tempted to ride long or hard all winter. It simply isn’t in your best interests.
- Make June, July and August the off-season. When it’s blistering hot in the Phoenix summer, simply do your off-season training in air-conditioned comfort and ride outside the rest of the year. Many Arizona events are scheduled outside of the hot months. Of course, this won’t work if you’ll be traveling to summer events in temperate areas.
- Crosstrain. Even though you can ride doesn’t mean you should ride. Enjoy other activities in winter like those of us in the Snowbelt states. You can’t ski and snowshoe, but you can run and inline skate. There’s some great mountain biking in your area, too, which keeps cycling fun by taking you off your same old roads and teaching you new skills.
- Ride like you feel. You say you’re feeling good and want to ride. That’s fine as long as you don’t exhibit symptoms of overtraining like heavy legs or eroding motivation. Winter riding in Arizona, Florida and other southern states is definitely enjoyable, so don’t totally deny yourself.