Winter is coming—and it will surely steal cycling from our daily routines. If unprepared, the grieving process can be overwhelming.
Don’t let the cold win this year. Use this guide to learn how to identify the common signs and symptoms of the offseason blues—and become a better cyclist for the season ahead.
Denial and Isolation1 of 6
How you know: You smashed the last Gran Fondo of the year, exceeding all your goals. But fall has quickly turned to winter, and even though snow is on the ground you aren't ready to call it quits. Why? Because the cycling season is over when you say it is. You set up the ultimate indoor trainer area in the garage and proceed to challenge every person with a Zwift account to a one-on-one race. A normal training day turns into a 10-hour sufferfest.
What to do: While this might seem like nothing more than a dedicated cyclist, training too long indoors instead of giving yourself a break to recharge mentally can lead to overtraining, injury and burnout. Try pacing yourself in those workouts instead, and keep yourself fresh by taking a break from the bike when needed. Cross-training activities like hiking, running and swimming could be just what you need.
Anger2 of 6
How you know: After days or even weeks of being unable to ride outdoors due to dropping temperatures and that pesky blizzard forecast, you throw caution to the wind. Nothing is going to keep you from the sport you love, weather be damned. You put on every piece of winter cycling gear you have and head out into the storm. Icicles on your chain and frostbite on your eyelids are a small price to pay for fresh air.
What to do: Cycling outside in the winter is absolutely doable if you're safe and smart. But when temperatures fall too low or the conditions are generally considered unsafe, you'll get more benefit from doing a short workout indoors. Instead of putting yourself in danger, sign up for a spin class, do a short interval session on the indoor trainer, or head to the gym for a pickup game of basketball. There's always tomorrow.
Bargaining3 of 6
How you know: You notice the dust collecting on your beloved bike and begin to reminisce. Six-hour rides in 70-degree weather begin to feel like a distant memory. There has to be something you can do, something to right this wrong, so you get on your knees and pray to the cycling gods for mercy. You promise to never again skip a training ride or make excuses when your training partner asks you to join them on an early Sunday morning workout. You swear to never again curse the sport when a car pulls out in front of you, when your chain breaks in the middle of a ride, or after you suffer your third flat tire in an hour. All you ask for in return is one more sunny, warm day to ride your bike.
What to do: Instead of leading yourself into a darker hole when the weather doesn't change, a vacation may be just what you need. If you can't afford the pricey hotels and flight fares to San Diego, there are plenty of other places where warm weather persists, even in the dead of winter. Tucson, Ariz., is a top 10 cycling city in the U.S., and due to its varied terrain and low-traffic roads it's one of the most popular winter training spots for professional cyclists. On the other hand, if cash isn't a concern, head to Mallorca for seven days and nights of cycling heaven.
Depression4 of 6
How you know: That last fall Gran Fondo is no longer your reality. Cycling seems a distant dream that you will never ever experience again. Instead of finding a happy medium during your winter training, you give up completely, pulling all of your cycling kits out of the closet and putting them in a box in the garage. A new season of House of Cards on Netflix and two pints of Ben & Jerry's await you from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy recliner.
What to do: Motivation is what you need. Turn off your Netflix account and re-watch this past year's Tour de France on the NBC Gold Pass—or an old classic like Breaking Away—to get your insides stirring again. Take the recliner out of the living room and replace it with your indoor trainer. If that doesn't work, watch this video.
Acceptance5 of 6
How you know: There's a balance in your life. You haven't forgotten about cycling, but that's not all you do. You feel recharged and anticipate the season ahead. As January rolls around, you've got new goals to accomplish and begin to set a plan into motion.
What to do: Organize your offseason by mixing it up. Strength training, yoga sessions, indoor trainer time, and plenty of time for rest and recuperation should all be on the menu. Don't forget the occasional ride outdoors by taking advantage of mild days. Everything you do should be aimed at making you a better cyclist, whether your workouts are on the bike or not. Concentrate on increasing aerobic capacity, strength, and flexibility to be in tip-top shape when warmer weather arrives.