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Train Through the Off Season

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It takes me by surprise every year. Just like that fall turns into winter and I’m left staring at my mountain bike instead of cranking its pedals. Over the years, however, I’ve learned that winter doesn’t have to compromise my fitness. While it may be tempting to hibernate when the weather turns nasty, try focusing your energy on indoor activities instead. Take up yoga, spinning or Pilates to help stay in shape and improve your power on the bike come spring! With some proper preparation and the right kind of bike, you can even hit the trail this time of year if you so desire. Read on for some fitness inspiration during frightful weather.

1. Get Your Yoga On

It’s true. The ancient Indian discipline has been found to make you stronger and faster on your bike. In my experience, people fall into two categories when it comes to yoga: They either practice it and love it, or refuse to try it. If you’ve never given it a go, I highly suggest that you head to your nearest studio and take a class. After some professional instruction, if you decide yoga is right for you, find a quiet room in your house to practice on those gloomy, winter days. Yoga will focus and relax you, and provide you with an improved concentration on technical terrain. Additionally, mountain biking strength can help you hold poses longer on the mat.

2. Join a Spin Class

Stuck inside? You’re in luck! Spinning takes place on a specialized stationary bicycle inside four walls. When the weather outside is miserable, partake in a properly-taught and executed spin class to get much of the same benefits as you would if you were mountain biking outside. “It's of critical importance to not lose all the work that's been done in the warmer weather months by stopping the training program because the weather is bad,” advises Jason Bressler, personal trainer and certified spin instructor. Spinning will help you maintain your strength and is an ideal way to train during the cycling off season. Remember, it takes just three to four weeks of no training to drastically affect a person's overall stamina and fitness levels.

3. Partake in a Pilates Class

You need a strong core to be most efficient on your mountain bike. How does one attain such a thing? Pilates. The core-based, total-body exercise program was developed in the early 1900s as a form of rehab. Today, mountain bikers can reap the cycling-specific benefits of Pilates, such as posture improvement, flexibility and low back strengthening. Pilates both lengthens and strengthens muscles that are shortened while cycling to ensure a more efficient ride once you return to mountain biking. Learn which exercises certified Pilates instructors recommend for cyclists, and find out why mountain bikers who have Pilates in their cross- and off-season training program experience reduced recovery times in between rides.

4. Brave the Elements

If you’re anything like me, it’s only a matter of time before cabin fever sets in during the cold, dark months of winter. After several days cooped up inside my house, I. Must. Get. Out. When this happens, it’s typically in the middle of winter, typically after a significant snowfall and typically unsafe to drive. That’s OK. Because I make my escape via mountain bike. But not just any mountain bike. My Surly Pugsley is the only two-wheeled vehicle equipped for such an occasion. With wide rims and fat tires, my Pugsley allows me to ride all year long. Let me repeat that. All year long. The ultimate adventure bike, you can ride through just about anywhere on this funny-looking machine: mud, sand, snow, ice. It’s a must-have if you must break free from four walls.
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