Well, fall is here (and its pretty much winter, now!). The temperature is dropping, wet and cold weather loom outside, and suddenly we realize that the road cycling season is almost over. Still, some of you may squeeze a ride in here and there, enjoying the last of the fewer and fewer warm days we have left. Others may have already called the season over and may start looking into getting ready for next year. It doesn’t matter if you are a triathlete looking forward to competing next year and striving for a new PB or if you’re a weekend rider who enjoys the longer bike rides with the company of friends and family, there are strategies you can adopt in the off season so that when the spring finally comes you are ready to go!
Someone once said that rest is wonderful medicine, and they were right. You are advised to rest -physically and mentally- after a long biking season. The body needs to rest to recover and to be strong for the next challenge, and the off-season offers a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Rest doesn’t mean to sit on the couch for the whole winter and completely stop moving! No, you just need to slow down on the cycling you do. Besides, if you are a serious athlete, it is never recommended to just stop your regular activities. Normally you would be advised to do some off-season training.
Ideally, this part of the off-season will include some time away from the bike, giving you a needed physical and mental break while encouraging other activities that you enjoy that keep you active.
It doesn’t matter what kind of rider you are, competitive or recreational, there is a chance that during this past season you may have felt an ache, pain, or other discomfort that you didn’t pay too much attention to and pushed through it thinking that you could take care of that “after”. Well, now is “after”. Go see your physiotherapist, massage therapist or other treatment provider. This is the best time to take care of that ache, pain or tightness that was bothering you during the season so when next year comes around you are ready to start pain free.
The winter months (along with the general inability to bike outdoors) bring a wonderful opportunity to improve your fitness in other areas you wouldn’t have time to improve on if you were still cycling outside.
Take this time to work on your strength at the gym by lifting weights. This will give you the advantage to use bigger gears if you are a competitive rider.
Work on your technique as well. Cycling indoors allows you to focus on proper posture and technique so when you get back outdoors the body is under less stress and you will not experience those aches and pains after your rides.
Don’t forget to devote some time to working on improving your cardio. If you have access to a pool swimming is an excellent way to work on your cardio without putting too much stress on your joints.
Some of us look forward to the spring and summer and see winter as an unwanted stop to our cycling life, but remember there are still things we can do during the winter off-season to help us be prepared for the new biking year.
Not only can we help you recovery from an "in-season" injury and provide a custom off-season training program to ensure you are at the top of your game in time for next season but we also provide bike-fitting services - to make sure you are making the most of your equipment and positioned for optimal performance! Think an ergonomic assessment, but for your bike!
Written by: OSVALDO BOLANOS, Registered Massage Therapist, Sport Massage Therapist + Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner
Ozy is also a Sport Massage Therapist for the Canadian National Sprint Cycling team!