Let’s face it, even folks in Hawaii get bad weather from time to time. Whether you’re on a tropical vacation, doing a training camp, struggling through a frigid winter or just dealing with less than ideal weather, your bike training could suffer.
To keep your fitness routine on track, there are several tactics you can start developing now before the weather conspires to keep you off the bike! Become more resilient by expanding your movement options, adding key clothing and gear to your quiver and, occasionally, embracing unplanned off days.
Clothing and Gear
Your clothing and gear greatly expand the spectrum of conditions you can ride in. If you only have a road bike and skinny tires, then you are limited to a very narrow range of weather compared with someone who can put bigger tires on their bike and has full fenders. If you only own shorts and short-sleeve jerseys, consider layering undershirts, a waterproof rain jacket, long-sleeve 1/4 zips and several sets of gloves. Thinking toward how you ride your bike in different weather conditions will help you see what gear and clothing you need.
Riding No Matter What
Many hard-core cyclists will ride in any weather. Their secret is to have the right equipment, an appropriate route in mind and embrace the weather. Not giving yourself an option except to go out on a ride — even a shorter one than planned — often gets you out the door. Usually you overthink the conditions, and your brain tries to convince you to stay inside your warm house. Commit to your ride: Put on your booties, caps, jackets, fenders — and my personal secret weapon, a neck gaiter — and head out the door.
An adjunct or replacement for riding outside is an indoor cycling class, trainers or rollers. You can boost your ride time almost effortlessly if you ride to and from a spin class. The trick is to bring a spare set of clothes for ride home so you aren’t really sweaty!
Similarly, if you do have to shorten an outdoor ride, you can use your indoor trainer to warmup and/or cool down to extend the time in the saddle. This is a really nice way to get in some quality training without staring at your basement walls or freezing outside for hours.
Expand Your Workout Horizons
If you have many workout options, then you’ll rarely be sidelined by bad weather. My podcast, “The Consummate Athlete,” talks about becoming competent in a variety of sports to enjoy more time moving in any weather. If you are able to swim, rock climb, run and ride multiple types of bikes, there is no weather that will get you down. Add some kiteboarding, and you are set for windy days. Swimmers don’t need to worry about snow or rain, and runners can be happy in a wider range of conditions than cyclists. If one of your friends does a sport you don’t, get them to take you out and show you the basics.
Take a Day Off
If the conditions are beyond what you’re willing to train in, then take the day off. Many endurance athletes regularly operate with a fair bit of fatigue due to high volume and intensity. Taking the odd unplanned day off can actually boost your training. You might feel rejuvenated and find that the rest of the week’s workouts are high quality and easy to complete. In fact, athletes often get their personal-best power numbers or breakthroughs in skills after rest days. During those unplanned off days, you can take the time to review your goals, take care of bike maintenance and perhaps go shopping for gear you are missing to ensure future success.
Our goal as endurance athletes is to become resilient, to endure longer and work through a variety of conditions. It can be hugely performance-enhancing to embrace different conditions as a chance to change up your sport or discipline, test your gear and, if all else fails, use the forced off-bike time to recover and prepare for awesome upcoming workouts.