While we are all still recovering from our Thanksgiving feasts, the holidays are always a reminder of how quickly winter is approaching. Eggnog, fires, and even more special days are on the horizon, and while we cannot wait for the pleasures winter brings, the challenges of staying in peak shape during the darker months is ever present. To help you achieve your goals for the warmer months ahead, we thought we would share our top tips from our leaders to help you stay in riding shape over the winter months.

  • Set a goal for the upcoming season (i.e. do your first century, perhaps a race). Track your progress using a log book. This will aid in pinpointing key areas of focus for your training, as well as provide a record of your workouts.
  • Develop a fitness routine with activities based around the winter to avoid injuries from overusing certain muscles, as well as to provide a fair balance to your underused ones.
  • Indoor activities can be done in one’s own home, and the exercises involved will help increases your strength, balance, flexibility, agility, and endurance all in one! Consider taking a spin class. Spin classes are a group activity utilizing indoor exercise bikes and the programs are paced to music. Another option is for those who simply cannot stay away from cycling all year and are not willing to brave the elements, we recommend getting a smart trainer. Apps like Zwift allow you to ride famous cycling routes and compete against other riders from the comfort of your own home. 
  • Concept 2 rowing machines, often found in gyms, are good for cardio and help build core muscles that help on longer rides.
  • Join a Yoga class – strength, balance, flexibility, agility, endurance all in one! At home, you can also subscribe to Gaiam, a robust online yoga channel.
  • Cross training: Skiing is an excellent sport that allows for fun and exercise at the same time. Cross country skiing, in particular, is a great way to keep up on your cardio, while also giving your gluts, hamstrings, and quads a good workout. Snowshoeing is a wonderful winter activity, both for staying in shape (it burns more calories than normal walking or running) as well as to enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Winter running with a pair of studded running shoes that will keep your feet dry and provide a very reassuring grip on snow and ice.  Running is free, aside from investing in a good pair of shoes, and portable.
  • Winter hiking and snow shoeing on uncrowded trails and beautiful vistas.
  • Encourage a friend as your exercise companion and stay committed to one another throughout.
  • Enjoy your holiday feasts, but beware of your calorie intake!
  • Naturally, go on a Sojourn warm weather winter trip to Arizona, Texas, or California!

In addition to your cycling fitness, it is especially important to maintain your bicycle throughout the winter.  Here are 5 tips to ensure your equipment is in top shape for the spring (or all winter).

  • If you’re storing a bike, give it a thorough cleaning at the end of the season. Also be sure to periodically check the tires throughout the winter to avoid any flats. If the tires appear to have taken a “flat shape” or go completely flat, they might not bounce back quite as well as one would want them to, potentially requiring a repair.
  • If you plan on riding throughout the winter season, we recommend a set of fenders for your bike. Fenders help to localize the sand and grit on your bike and will also keep you drier (and more likely warmer) during rides.
  • If you live in a region where the weather tends be severe, a dedicated winter bike of lesser value may be in order, so that you don’t damage your primary bicycle with exposure to salt, grit, and grime. During the winter offseason, there are several bike shops or even Goodwill stores that may have a bike available at an affordable price.
  • As the days grow shorter, having a quality set of lights for your bike is essential. Many companies in the bike industry are currently promoting daytime visible lights, which are a great safety tool for all months of the year.
  • Caliper rim brakes combined with grit and grime can do damage over time to the rims. If you have custom or high-end wheels, an alternate set of winter wheels can help keep your primary wheels in great shape. If you have disc brakes, you may be fine riding the same wheels throughout the winter.

We hope these tips keep you up to speed for the winter, and in the meantime set your long-term horizon on a Sojourn summer tour and stay fit to be prepared! Here in Vermont, we will be doing an awful lot of skiing and snowshoeing to keep active. Let us know what you are doing in your state!

Sojourn Leader Contributors: Leigh Mallory, Rob Broadfoot, Beau Denham, Jonathan Hart, Karen Keane, Karyn Lewis, Josh Poppel, Joe Kozell, Sue Donahue

Sojourn Staff Contributor: Daniel Langevin