by Tony Marchand

Cycling Motivation

Maintaining motivation during the season and especially in those cold weather months is a challenge. Here are some tips that may help you.

Cross Training:
Pick and choose what you enjoy and suits you best.
  • Swimming: Probably one of the best low impact cardiovascular workout you can do. If you've done little, take a few lessons. When you learn to get into a rhythm, it's exhilarating.
  • Running: Provides a great cardiovascular workout but may not be for everyone.
  • Snow Shoeing/Cross Country Skiing/Elliptical Trainer: The elliptical trainer works similar muscles to cross country skiing and snow shoeing. These exercises are good because your heart and lungs will get a workout, helping your endurance on the bike. You'll also enhance strength in your hips, quads and abdomen -- the key sources of power you use to drive the pedals.
  • Weight Lifting/Leg Presses: Provide strength training for not only the legs but core and upper body which are used (more than you think) in cycling and prevent fatigue of these muscle groups on long rides.
  • Rowing Machine: A rowing machine (also known as an ergometer) provides a great work-out to the major muscle groups in your thighs, hips, buttocks, lower and upper back and shoulders. It also can be a very vigorous exercise, good for increasing the capacity of your cardio-vascular system.
Winter Training:
Develop a routine for those snowy days (can also be used on those nice day it rains). These could involve some of the **CROSS TRAINING** mentioned above but can also involve some stationary cycling routines without going stir crazy. Here's the one I use while listening to some motivational music downloaded from iTunes:
  • 15 to 30 minute workout with a rowing machine: Switch hand positions from holding on top of the bar to grabbing the bar underneath every 10 minutes.
  • Get on the stationary bike and just spin at around 100 rpm at a low resistance for 30 minutes just to get those lower legs loose.
  • 20 minutes of weight lifting: Here I concentrate on upper body and core exercises with the equipment at the gym. You upper body takes more of a pounding then you think while cycling. All that vibration coming up through the handlebars is absorbed through your arms and body core.
  • 30 to 60 minutes back on the stationary bike: I do a warm up at low resistance, 20 minutes of intervals and then a cool down. The interval consist of about 3/10 kilometers of high resistance where I must stand, 1 and 7/10 medium hard resistance seated and then 1 kilometer high cadence, low resistance. Then repeat.
An alternate is to do the first 3 above at the gym on alternate days and in between, do the 60 minutes on the stationary bike while watching one of my collections of Tour de France DVDs. When they sprint or go uphill, I put it in a tough gear and cycle hard; on the flats I use a mid gear; on the down hill I spin in a low gear. Interestingly enough, I always finish with the winners.

And don't forget **SPIN CLASSES** which will do wonders. Remember, spin classes help prep cardiovascular output and leg strength but some forms of cross training will help build endurance. Also, rowing with weight training will help build the upper body and core you need for cycling! Try them on alternate days.

**Yoga** will help flexibility needed for cycling and "hot yoga" will help your cardiovascular output.

Winter training takes intense motivation and is not for all. But if you want to keep in shape and not gain that winter weight, the above is what it takes.

Prevention of Burnout:
During the season, burnout is a real possibility from just pounding the pedals all week. Here are some tips:  
  • Alternate with cross training. Also try different forms of cycling such as mountain biking or cyclocross.
  • Take 2 days a week (or even 1 if your time is limited) and do a "bike walk," an easy pedaling day where you just enjoy the scenery.
  • Bike with a highly motivated friend. Maybe some will rub off.
  • Bike with different pace groups (this changes your routine and makes it fun). Also, cycling with various friends gives you a chance to interact and also take
    s your mind off your own aches and pains.
  • Try different areas. Although Sussex County is a ways from my home, it's easy to get there on weekends (no traffic) and has proved to be fun, new and exciting.
  • Treat yourself to new gear and equipment. You've earned it.
  • Yoga is great for relaxation, flexibility, and hot yoga for your cardiovascular system.