Tips for winter training

OUTSIDE IS FREE(zing) 

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Being a track rider from California it was safe to say I was a bit of a fair weather rider. Having moved to Belgium, the days of letting rain delay my rides are long gone. It’s not a matter of if it will rain here but when. But my new location has given me a newfound appreciation for fall and winter. Embrace the change in season and get out there and ride!

They say there’s no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing.

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Dressing for the cold:

Layering is like the three bears- you can’t wear to little or too much. It has to be just right. Ideally you’ll be cold for the first few minutes but after your heart rate kicks up and the blood is pumping you’ll be warm. If you start out too warm you’ll quickly overheat and end up with your layers in your pockets for the remainder of the ride. Save that room for snacks 🙂

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Choose items that are easy to add on or remove. Don’t overdo it!

Extremities 

Winter Layers

Your head, hands and feet are where your body retains and looses most of its body heat. It is also near impossible to warm up again just with physical activity. Keeping them warm is your key to success. This is especially important during rainy months.

Head- I’m a big fan of headbands and buffs. Buffs are great because you can wear them as both a head cap or neck warmer. Keep your head and ears warm.

Hands- The colder it gets the more important your gloves are. Look at the labels! Most gloves give breakdowns of the temperatures they’re best designed for.

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Feet-Warm socks paired with the right booties will keep your feet warm and dry. Keeping  you pedalling through those long winter base miles.

Hydrate

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Athletes often overlook the importance of hydrating during the cold winter months. During summer when you begin to feel thirsty this indicates that you’re not drinking enough. However, in winter you can dehydrate yourself long before you begin to feel thirsty so it’s important to remember to drink up. This is because all your warm layers that are keeping you insulated are also trapping in your body’s heat and causing you to sweat more. Aim to take a few good sized sips from your bottle every 10-15 minutes from the moment you start your ride. For eating I recommend eating a little, often. Nutrition on the bike isn’t for that moment, but for 10-20 miles down the road.

Hit the indoor trainer! 

You have to train fast to be fast

Rollers vs trainer- Each bring their own set of advantages and disadvantages. They’re different but not necessarily better than one another. That being said, I prefer the rolllers. I just got a set of the Cycleops resistance rollers- what a difference! All the benefits of the rollers with the added resistance of a trainer.

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Photo by Joel Sunderland

Why rollers?

Rollers help with balance and reactions on the bike.

Rollers also help with leg speed and pedal efficiency.

Rollers keep you engaged and make you work for it. There’s no slacking off while on the rollers-there is zero downtime with the rollers so every pedal stroke counts.

Korina Rollers

Photo by: Kerstin Wintercamp

Souplesse – French for suppleness – has been appropriated into the cycling lexicon to describe the perfect pedal stroke; that fluid cadence we all strive for, but rarely achieve. To pedal avec souplesse is to spin without thrashing, dance without stumbling; it is to look entirely natural on a bicycle. -Rapha

Sufferfest

Sometimes the hardest part about winter training is finding motivation. Finding the energy to go do intervals and push yourself. Sufferfest takes all the guesswork out of training and pushes you. I’m the type of athlete that likes to be told what to do- when to go hard, when to go all out which allows me to focus on riding. The Suffrefest videos are great workouts combined with various cycling footage to keep you engaged and suffering while on the trainer.

Hit the gym/ Cross train

What to do:

Planks

Burpees

Squats

Hill Sprints- yes I mean running

Hill sprints will raise your heart rate, work your upper body and core, develop proprioception and general motor skills, provide some impact for improved bone density, help assist a more upright posture, and develop explosive power in your legs to help with cycling. –Breakingmuscle.com

Leg Extensions (One legged to work out muscle imbalances)

Keep it dynamic- dynamic training for strength and explosiveness

Core Strength Training with Tinkoff-Saxo

Yoga- regular yoga practice as part of your training can have many benefits for cyclists, including improved strength, flexibility, balance, and focus. On top of that, it may play a key role in injury prevention.

Cyclist doing yoga

Wash your bike

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Winter is filled with rain, mud and grime. Winter is harsh on your bike so it’s important to keep your bike parts clean to add life and efficiency to them. A clean bike is a fast bike.

Dan Horndasch, mechanic extraordinaire, recommends taking a dry paintbrush to your bike after dry rides to remove dirt in those fine nooks and crannies of your bike.

Another mechanic says,

I always advise not to use a waterhose. Rain doesn’t get into your bearings and chain, while water from a waterhose sometimes does get in nasty places. I sometimes see chains or even a bearing which is rusted because the oil/grease is ‘hosed away’.You can safely use water out of a bucket, with a sponge. But do not use a hose. Especially not a high-presure hose!

The best thing to do is clean the bicycle entirely with some cleaner without grease. Based on silicon for instance. Spray it on the bicycle, and clean the bicycle with an old cloth.

Add in your tips and recommendations for fellow athletes as well.

Now get out there and ride your bike! #JammiesToChamois 

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Jammies to Chamois

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