I used to hate winter. Thinking about it during late summer or early fall would make my chest tighten up with anxiety. The cold, the snow, the darkness, the joyless three-hour rides on the trainer – I absolutely hated it. Especially after the football season ended.
It’s taken me almost 20 years, but I think I’ve finally learned how to enjoy the time between cycling seasons. There’s no perfect substitute for warmth, sunshine, and clean, dry pavement, but with some creativity and flexibility, I’ve found that I can make it through the winter and start the following season feeling fit and mentally refreshed.
The list that follows contains things I’ve done (with varying degrees of success) and things I haven’t done yet but am contemplating doing this winter. Some people can keep riding year-round with no apparent physical or mental fatigue, while others need to take a break from the bike in order to stay fresh, so I’ve separated the list into cycling and non-cycling activities.
Keep on pedaling:
- Just continue riding outside (but with some adjustments)
- Ride a fat bike
- Ride on an indoor trainer or rollers
- Race your friends on the Computrainers at a bike shop
- Take Spinning classes
- Go somewhere warm
- Ride at Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park
- Do the Santa Rampage or other Bike Winter events
- Go cross country skiing
- Go showshoeing
- Speed skate at the Pettit National Ice Center
- Do some yoga
- Get caught up on bike maintenance
- Learn how to do your own bike repairs
- Volunteer at a non-profit bike co-op
- Get professionally fitted on your bike
- Go to swap meets
- Drink beer and get fat
This list is by no means complete and authoritative, so I invite readers to contribute their suggestions in the comments. Do you embrace your inner Inuit and pedal right through winter? Do you need a break from cycling and hang up the bike? It would be great for this to become a “sticky” post, so as comments come in below, we’ll update the list. Over the course of the winter, I’ll write follow-up posts on some of these ideas.