Today is the 12th of October. In Spain that is a national holiday. The day of Pilar, the patron saint of the Hipsanic people. It is also the date that Columbus sighted land for the first time in his journey to discover the Americas. So, all in all, it is an important day in the Spanish calendar. For me however, it has always signalled the end of the cycling season. And today, it is the first day that it has rained in our part of Galicia since early June. So that is a sign that summer may well have passed, and we need to start preparing for off season cycling. The weather in Galicia is extremely temperate. Very well-designed seasons. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean prevents very cold temperatures within 30-40km of the coast. Yes, it rains, but never too prolonged. How else would we have such beautiful forests? However, it is unlikely that we will see the 25-30 degree temperatures for a while. So, we must start to prepare for off season cycling.
Maintaining the bike
Firstly, the bike. Like all machines, a bike will suffer more in winter than summer. Thus, it is important that you maintain your bike more regularly during the off season. I would recommend a quick clean after every ride. The road surface will kick up a lot of dirt and muck as the wet weather moves in. This is a nightmare for your bottom bracket, and your gearing. If you have access to a high-pressure hose, use this for general cleaning. As the bearings can get damaged do not use it to clean the bottom bracket. I would suggest using an old toothbrush to clean the delicate parts of a bike, with a specific bike cleaner, rather than a generic soap. The drivetrain and bottom bracket, particlularly during off season cycling must be cared for. If not, some expensive replacement will be in order come springtime.
A Top Quality Jacket
The improvement in the quality of winter clothing over the last ten years or so has been eye-catching. Yes, the price of some of these jackets are eye watering not eye catching. However, sometimes you must invest in one off items. And there is nothing quite like being cold and wet through on a bike. I am not here to recommend one brand over another. Last year I invested 170€ in a wind and water proof jacket, that had detachable arm sections. I have to say that it was a very good investment. The arm warmers can be used without the jacket, and the jacket can be used without the arm warmers. Take it from me, this is an advantage. The jacket doesn´t make you sweat, but importantly keep you warm and dry. Somethings you cannot scrimp on.
Off Season Cycling – Indoor vs Outdoor
Sometimes during off season cycling, this question arises. Shall I go out, or just hit the rollers. I, like many, always will choose to go out. However, each winter I find myself on the rollers more. I was fortunate enough a couple of years back to have lunch with Tour De France winner, Oscar Pereiro . He spoke about the constant demands of keeping his weight down, particularly during off season cycling. His “secret” was to get out of bed, and on his rollers for 30 minutes at least four times a week. And never eat before the rollers. It sounds a lot, but it is only 45 minutes extra in the morning. Get up, bib short on, earpiece in, quick podcast loaded, and spin away for 30 minutes. Straight in the shower, breakfast and off to start the day. This is now part of my routine from October to February.
More Gym Less KM?
Many pro cyclists are now sacrificing kms for more time conditioning their bodies. In the past, it was just 6 hours riding, and home to bed. Now, Pilates, yoga, running, and gym work are fundamental to be a top cyclist. So, what can us “domingeros” learn from the pros? Without doubt, stretching is fundamental to cycling. At all levels of cycling muscles take a beating. After every ride, stretching must be done to avoid longer term injury. Core stability is key too. This is where yoga and Pilates are really becoming important to cyclists. A stable core allows the legs to do their work. Although I personally am not an advocate of the gym for cyclists, I can see that weight training for toning is a good idea. Only track sprinters need to look like Hulk Hogan. In conclusion, what you do during off season cycling can have a profound effect for how you start the new season. Try something new like Pilates. Keep you and your bike in good condition through the winter months. And when spring comes you will be ready for the adventures ahead. And why not a cycling holiday in Spain to really enjoy life on a bike.