Keep riding, cross-train, lift weights and have fun
In Colorado, wintertime can mean 50 degrees and sunny one day and 20 degrees and a foot of snow the next. What’s a cyclist to do? We talked to two coaches who work with athletes from Tour de France riders to weekend warriors for their advice on how to stay fit and motivated through the winter.
FasCat Coaching founder Frank Overton practices and preaches a mix of year-round riding, resistance training (weights) and yoga.
Ride year-round with periodization
“Don’t take too much time off otherwise you’ll get slow,” Frank said. “I buy good gear to ride in like base layers, thermal jerseys, vests, neck gaiters, gloves.”
Being a coach, Frank encourages riders to break down their seasons into blocks of specific training, called periodization.
Ride indoors when necessary
Toughening up and getting outside is all fine and good, but sometimes it just isn’t feasible. For many people, riding indoors is the only way to ride year round.
“It can be fun if you do it right,” Frank said, referring to using software like Zwift in conjunction with a training plan. “And, more importantly, it can be very productive.”
What Frank does in the winter
“I lift weights, do yoga and ride – just not as much as I do in the spring and summer,” Frank said. “I follow a plan so that I accomplish something every day and make progress and improvement to my spring/summer goals.”
“I ride Zwift when it snows. Other times I’ll move my recovery days around and just go to a yoga class and then train when the weather improves.”
Colby Pearce is a former Olympian with an absurdly long resume. He coaches a variety of athletes now, including Alex Howes, a Colorado native who like Taylor Phinney rides for EF Education First Pro Cycling. Colby’s advice for non-professional athletes is straightforward: switch it up and have fun.
“A good strength and conditioning program and cross-training are my favorite ways to keep fit,” Colby said. “There is plenty of time for cycling in the summer. Broaden your athletic base and balance out your cycling posture with cross-country skiing, trail running, yoga, alpine skiing, hiking.”
Become less horrible at other things
“Cycling is a repetitive, aerobic endurance sport. This means you repeat the exact same motion thousands of times in a single ride. This results in a good cyclist and an athlete who is horrible at everything else,” Colby said. “The off season and preparatory season are opportunities to offset this myopic conditioning paradigm.”
What Colby does in the winter
Colby has one rule: never ride indoors.
“If I was a pro, being paid to ride my bike, and had to be race fit for a World Tour race in Columbia, it would be a different story,” Colby said. “But bicycles are outdoor devices, meant to get you from A to B. This is heresy in the ‘Age Of Zwift’, but if the weather is really cold and snowy, I either add more clothes or participate in a winter activity. Or mediate instead. Life is all about balance.”
Read some of Colby’s features or listen to relevant podcasts here.
Colby Pearce is a former Olympian, multi-time national champion and record holder – and founder of Pearce Coaching and Fitting
Roll Massif editor
Ben has been riding bikes and slinging stories since he was a paperboy. Professionally, he’s been a cycling journalist since 1999, when racing bikes and studying journalism at the University of New Mexico led to pulls at VeloNews, BikeRadar, Cyclingnews and elsewhere. After traveling the world to report on pro cycling in Europe and manufacturing in Asia, Ben is happy to be at home in Colorado, writing about the incomparable riding and the creative people who drive the cycling culture.