Right, so it’s dark when you leave for work, dark when you get back and the roads are wet and icy. Understandably, your motivation for getting out on the road bike is going to be pretty low.
So what choice do you have? You could go to a spinning class, sit on an exercise bike in a sweaty gym or dust off the turbo trainer. You could…but none of them are particularly appealing are they?
Instead of forcing something that, let’s be honest, is pretty unappealing at this time of year, why not do something that will improve your fitness and give you something to look forward to. Mountain biking has all the fitness elements of road biking with the added bonus of letting you get out in the great outdoors. If you can find a group of you to get out each weekend then there’s also the social element to keep you interested.
One of the reasons many triathletes and road cyclists ignore mountain biking as a realistic training option is that it’s a lot harder to monitor and vary the intensity of your workouts. Though this is true to a point, there are lots of ways you can make sure you get a proper workout each time you get out on the trails.
Get a Proper Workout
The easiest way to ensure that you are pushing yourself each time you get out is to ride trails that allow you to tailor the intensity of your workouts and keep the workload consistently high. The best places to get this sort of workout is at one of the many ‘trail centres’ which are gaining popularity across the UK. These are purpose built mountain bike centres which have circular routes of varying length and difficulty. They are fully maintained, have all the necessary facilities and they don’t have all the usual obstacles (gates, boggy fields and pedestrians). They let you focus on the riding and tailor each ride to ensure that you get a proper workout.
There’s a circuit near us which is graded ‘red’ (intermediate – just like skiing) and takes an hour to get around if you are pushing hard. Do that twice and your legs will be like jelly.
Though mountain biking does involve investing money in a whole load of expensive kit, it’s a great way to improve your cycling fitness over the winter months, it helps improve motivation and can be great fun. If you can manage it, it’s well worth the time and money you need to get started.
What do you think? Do you get out on your mountain bike during the winter months? How else do you maintain your cycling fitness over winter?