Our winter workouts are some of our favorite.
Triathletes and cyclists from Northern climates must adjust their training to the colder months. Some prefer to train outdoors, but not swim, while others may choose to train indoors for several months at a gym or health club. We love being outside as much as we can and believe there are many reasons to train outside, even in colder weather. However, there may be days when it is just too cold or you have to do a workout indoors.
It is also important to consider where you live. Access to trails will give you a better riding experience than riding on roads. We want you to be safe. Make sure you only ride in areas that aren’t increasing the chance of an accident. Safety first.
Running in winter can be quite simple – just put on some layers and choose your route carefully. You can also stay outside for most of winter. However, cycling training in cold conditions is more difficult. We have tried many different approaches to winter cycling and found that there are pros and cons to each. Our roadbike has been ridden on hardpack trails. We’ve switched to fat bikes. We have moved inside.
Like all things training, you will need to use a combination of several approaches to get your bike in tip-top shape for the spring. Below are our thoughts on three winter cycling training methods.
Winter Cycling Options
Option 1 – Stay outside year-round. If you live in Southern California, Florida or the West Coast, this option is likely to be easy. It’s the same thing you did in June, but in January. It’s not so easy for those of us who live in the Mountains, Midwest or North. You will need to adapt some routes and adjust your bike setup in order to be able to ride outside. Many cyclists switch to heavier bike tiresin winter. Winter riders in the North need to be aware of two things. One is temperature, which can often been mitigated with the right clothing. You can only make your bike more comfortable in ice or snow conditions. Remember that snow can make roads shoulders narrower, and any existing shoulders could be covered by road salt which can cause
unpredictable soft patches.
The Cannondale CAAD Fat Tire bike is an excellent entry-level Fat Tire bike.
Many cyclists look forward to the fourth season of riding after the introduction of the fat tire bike. Although we could write a separate article about fat tire bikes, the bottom line is that they’re a completely different animal. There are many things you should look out for and some bikes are made by companies we don’t know about. A good entry-level bike, such as the CannondaleCAAD, can give you the motivation to ride outside all winter. We are more concerned with time and distance when riding outdoors in winter.
We wrote a whole article about the best entry-level fat bikes. You can check it out.
No matter what you do, dress for the weather. You need to protect yourself from the cold and ensure your feet are safe on ice. Layers are recommended, with outer windbreaking layers (a good running jacketis fine, but you should consider getting cycling-specific leggings, tights, or leggings) to keep the wind off your face, middle thermal layers to keep warm, and base layers that wick away moisture to prevent perspiration from creating clamminess. Layer up or down depending on the weather. Don’t forget to cover your head and hands. You will be able to make the best investment of your life with a pair of all weather cycling gloves.
Option 2 – Spin Classes.Many triathletes swear to spin classes in winter. A good spin class will give you leg strength and keep your heart rate up for a long time. A spin class is a great way to motivate your spouse and husband, who may be at different levels of fitness. Spin classes are a great way to burn fat and get sweat. They don’t require any additional equipment or a membership to a gym, which we know can quickly add up. However, a spin class is highly dependent on the instructor. Some instructors may be better suited for certain individuals than others. You can make a spin class an “A” workout if you wish.
Try a variety of spin classes before you settle on one or two. You should find an instructor who is able to give you the challenge level you desire. Some classes are shorter and may last only 45 minutes, while others can be 75 minutes or longer.
Many winter cyclists still use indoor bike trainers.
Option 2a – Get Your Own Spin Bike. A spin bike can be brought to your home so you can take the class with you. A quality bike will cost you an extra $1,000, but you may find that having a dedicated piece of equipment in your home can help you get in more workouts. We’ve done a detailed review of the best stationary and spinner bicycles, but we love the Sole Fitness indoor bike line. It is very adaptable and feels like a real roadbike.
Option 3 – Inside on a Trainer.We enjoy cycling outside in the winter and taking spin classes but have found that we prefer to work out at home using an indoor bicycle trainer. Although a quality cycling trainer can be expensive (we recommend the Cyclops Fluid2), it is worth it if you are able to use it often. You can either set it up in your basement or bring it into the living room to use. Then, you can store it away and get a high-quality workout at home. You are also training on your own bike so you can build strength in the exact same position that you will race in …..
A Cycling DVD is a great way to make trainers’ workouts more effective. It helps us organize our workouts and keep our focus. There are many to choose from but we would pick the SpinervalsDVD due to its variety and Coach Troy’s effectiveness. There are many workouts to choose from, but we recommend choosing 2-3 that you can do often. For those special workouts, we recommend a longer version for fat-burning days. A shorter one is better for people with limited time. To help you make a decision, each DVD comes with a difficulty rating (10 being the highest).
The newest trend in bike trainers (and it is here to stay), is the smart home trainermarket. Some of the names you might be familiar with are Wahoo and Zwift. These names are part of a market segment that offers great training at home via an app that connects to the internet. You can also train with other people from around the world. This is too complex to explain here. Please check out our article on the topic.
No matter what your approach is, whether you’re using a trainer, staying outside or spinning, think about how winter cycling fits in with your overall fitness goals. It’s okay to take a break if you have done a difficult triathlon in the autumn. It will likely be beneficial for you.
You should start building up your endurance cycling about 4-5 months before your race plans. Then, add more intense training plans as needed. No matter what sport you choose, don’t ride the same route for long periods of time. Periodization is crucial to get the best out of your training, regardless of the sport.