Last week, pro cyclist Loren Rowney shared her joie de vivre approach to the off season, filled with drinking, binge eating, adventures and family time before getting back to training. Now, most of us aren’t pro cyclists and we don’t sacrifice nearly as much as they do year-round. There also isn’t a strict program waiting for us when November arrives. Luckily, ALP Cycles has some tips on how to approach the off season for us budding, amateur cyclists.
For road racers, off season is here and that means time off, time for vacation or time for activities that you can’t really do during race season. (Unless you are racing cyclocross of course.)
There are some things you should and shouldn’t do during off season. Even though it sounds like an easy time, off season is an important time. Believe it or not, things you do during the off season have a big influence on your next race season.
Spending your time on the couch for a whole month isn’t the right thing to do and neither is riding or working out like crazy.
I have had to learn it the hard way- I admit that. I’ve made mistakes during my past off seasons. Mainly because I can’t sit still and just like to be active. Resting can be hard too!
Do’s and Don’ts
-Your last race of the season might be in the books but keep riding! It is a good idea to get in some longer rides in September and into October. Make use of the nice autumn weather and colours.
-Then, take a real break of around two weeks. After a long race season, it is important to rest your body and mind.
-It depends on when your first race will be in the new season, but your structured training should start again in November.
-The idea is to build up your fitness for next season step by step. Your coach should be able to provide you with a good plan that fits your needs and help you to prepare for next season. If you don’t have a coach, now is a good time to start looking.
-Next to riding your bike, this plan should also include strength and cross training. Incorporate crossfit, running or hiking or skiing or anything else that you may enjoy doing and that complements cycling. This is essential as it builds up full body strength that you may have lost during race season. Next to improving your fitness, it will also challenge your mobility and balance and helps to prevent injury.
-Off season is the perfect time to work on your weaknesses. Reflect on the past season and Identify your weaknesses. Talk to your coach, if you have one.
-Work on your bike handling and riding skills. This can be very simple: just go to an empty parking lot and set up some cones or water bottles. Work on skills like picking up water bottles, cornering, track stands, bunny hopping, riding figure 8’s, taking off jackets or arm warmers, riding no-handed, 180 turns, the list goes on. Being able to master these skills will make you feel more comfortable on your bike and make you a better bike rider.
-If you have to adjust things, like your bike position for example, use the off season to do it. The same counts for getting used to new shoes, new cleats, pedal systems, saddles, etc. It is never a good idea to dial in or change important equipment once race season has started.
-Try to avoid weight gain in the off season. It is OK to enjoy some goodies but don’t overdo it. Being a little bit heavier during winter is no problem as long as you can lose it come spring time.
-Analyse your past race season and set goals for the next season. Sit down and reflect on the past season, what went well, what went wrong and where can you improve or work on. Set your goals for next season and write them down.
Enjoy your off season!
ALP Cycles Coaching is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.
Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Road racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.