As the weather gets colder and days get shorter, cyclists begin thinking about how to continue their training. If you are a cyclist who is even marginally serious about improving—or at least maintaining—your performance, then you should be searching for ways to train indoors this winter.
This is regardless of whether you are a novice cyclist with goals to be able to ride for an hour more comfortably, or an intermediate cyclist looking to do your first (or improve on a past) metric or regular century, or a categoried cyclist planning your competitions. All would benefit from some sort of periodized structured training program over the winter.
You have three options in the winter:
If you are the type to don every bit of clothing you own and train in freezing temperatures outside, and/or ride with headlights on dark roads after work, I applaud you and wish I were more like you. I'm sure others do too. But for many of us, it is not an option. Some of you are blessed to live in warm climates in winter, but you still may have your after-work training time encroached upon by shorter days.
Indoor Cycling Class
Join your local gym and take indoor cycling classes. (Spinning® is a brand of indoor cycling, so I'll refer to the generic term). This may prove to be a scary proposition for many of you, as many cycling classes have little to do with real cycling or employing proper training principles. However, there is hope, they don't all have to be "aerobics-on-a-bike"!
Put your bike on a trainer (or purchase an indoor cycling bicycle), and plant yourself in front of your television, alone or with a few other cyclist friends. This is often referred to as "basement penance", and can be gruelingly boring if you don't have the right tools to motivate you. If you find it boring, you won't do it. However, in the past few years, there have been many companies who have created a wide variety of training videos that can keep you engaged and excited as you train indoors.
Which option is for you? Since I am a wimp on my bicycle in the cold and dark, and know I'm not alone, I'll leave those uber-motivated types who opt for option no. 1 to their own devices. Yes, I am jealous of you, but I'm also a realist.
Option no. 3 deserves its own post. I have some great suggestions for products for cyclists who prefer to train indoors in their own homes, including some brand new concepts for staying motivated. I will cover those in part 3 of this series.
This article will address why you should consider attending indoor cycling classes to train this winter. Part 2 will address how to optimize your experience once you are there and what movements or techniques to avoid.
Here are the advantages of going to an indoor cycling class: