Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Off-Season Activities: fun with winter weight gain.

The price of having spectacular cycling weather from July-October in New England is that we endure 3 months of no outdoor cycling at all. From December to the beginning of March only the most intrepid bike idiot can be found riding the roads. It is simply too cold, too icy, too pot holed to ride at all for most. Sure, if you dress like the michelin man and mount up studded tires you might be able to ride 5 miles. But it is hardly fun for more than a few rides.

Winter is the off season for northern New England cyclists. So we have to figure out what to do with 10-12 hours of free time each week (besides drink beer and get fat, which I'll discuss in a moment.) Most of us just want to get out of the house and do something aerobic. Winter sports come first to mind, namely skiing. New Hampshire and Vermont are wonderful places to ski, whether alpine or nordic or backcountry. I switched to nordic skiing several years ago since most of my cycling friends were doing that. The only problems with skiing are the time spent getting to somewhere to ski, and the weather. Unlike cycling, I can not just hop out the back door and ski. The weather is a much greater limiter in skiing than cycling. Too much snow, too wet snow, too dry snow, or as is the case this year, not enough snow and good skiing is but a distant memory.

With a month of snowless weather and cold temps, we did get good ice on the lakes. That meant we could ice skate the big lakes with out risk of drowning. Ice skating on touring style speed skates is a blast. Nordic skates mean that snow-less winters no longer depress me. Cruising around bob houses on stretches of open ice is wonderful for the quads, if less aerobic than a good hard ski.

But, I never avoid putting on some weight in the winter. I am too tempted by holiday goodies and weak after a season of self denial to avoid the treats. The good beers come out at Christmas and usually hang around until Valentines Day. By then, I have put on 5-7 pounds, am thoroughly disgusted with my condition, and vow to have more self control next year. Fortunately, by the end of February, the start to the cycling season is in sight.
I am glad to we are forced to take 10-12 weeks off the bike in New England. My friends in the warm parts of the country sometimes complain that they never get a break. When cycling is as easy in January as it is in June, why stop? The real problem is that they never reach peak fitness. The training is all plateau since there is no real rest. I fear that I would be the same if I lived in San Diego. So winter here forces us to actually take a rest period.
Now just keep me out of the cookie jar, please.

1 comment:

  1. hah! This year is the first year that I:

    A) Rode through the Winter (approx. 60-70 miles/week).

    B)Actually LOST and not gained weight by the end of the Winter.