Winter is coming, and despite living south of the Mason-Dixon Line, adverse weather conditions will keep many cyclists from riding consistently through colder months. However, that doesn't mean cyclists should sit inside, helplessly peering out the window waiting for spring.
Many of the area's best rides come in early spring, and cyclists who don't keep in shape will miss out or have to sludge through arguably the best riding time of the year. To make sure you aren't one of them, here are five steps to help you stay in shape during colder months.
1. Work on core strength.
Cycling power comes primarily from the legs, but core strength is an often-neglected area for weekend warriors — one that allows riders to be more controlled and well-rounded on the bike. Luckily for cyclists, winter is a good time to tighten that core and improve power-to-weight ratio.
Core workouts can truly be done in 30 minutes or less and don't require leaving the house. Plenty of core workouts involve only bodyweight, and for those looking for more, dozens of workouts can be added with just an exercise ball and dumbbells.
2. Do some weight training.
Winter is a good time to work on specific muscle groups and build strength. While there's no better alternative to becoming a better cyclist than riding a bike, working on overall strength will prove beneficial. Squats, leg presses, lunges, box jumps and other leg workouts will help improve speed on the bike. Focus on leg strength and results will follow. Strong legs make fast riders.
3. Do high-intensity indoor workouts.
Nothing replaces the joy that comes with climbing a mountain, pedaling through scenic views or feeling the wind whoosh through your helmet. Nothing. However, indoor workouts can build endurance and help you retain strength. Attending a local spin class or using an indoor trainer will mean you can do even more mountain climbing, scenic pedaling and helmet whooshing come spring.
4. Perfect your diet.
For triathletes, nutrition is often called the fourth discipline, and it's equally important for those concentrating on cycling. Despite the holidays, winter months can be a good time to tweak your diet or start eating healthier. Whether you've stuck to a strict diet for years or have never eaten healthily, now can be a time to try new options or start creating a personalized diet for the first time, and you should be able to find a gluttony of advice on the subject this time of year.
5. Take advantage of the good days.
Living in the South has its perks, and one of those is mild weather that allows for year-round riding. While the region is no stranger to a cold stretch or the occasional snow shower, there will be plenty of days when the sun is shining and the temperature stays above freezing. Take advantage and get out and ride.