So its winter-time. And one bummer about winter is that, as mountain bikers, access to our sport, and more specificity, our trails, will be limited – sometimes altogether eliminated! But even if we are forced to spend extended time off the bike (I plan on covering some winter-riding topics in the future), there are still plenty of things we can do to maintain our riding skill-set.
Most riders that I know jump into the typical winter-time cyclist’s regime of riding the road bike, the stationary trainer, and hitting the gym, accepting the fact that during those first real mountain bike rides of spring, they’ll be rusty, scared, and possibly crash they’re brains out. While the above work-out activities definitely can provide certain benefits, they really won’t do squat for a MTB’ers technical prowess on the bike.
Mountain biking is an incredibly mentally taxing activity. We are constantly making adjustments and corrections, we are often fighting fatigue, we often need to deal with emotions such as frustration or even anger.
I consistently see a difference in riders, beginners or other-wise, in their abilities to learn and/or adapt on the bicycle in relation to their athletic participation outside of bike riding.
A few good ones: as many of you are already aware, skiing and snowboarding are great for this. Not only do they require a mind-body awareness in a challenging environment, but they also give us a sense of speed and force us to use our vision (possibly the most important aspect of riding a MTB) in a similar way that we do on a bicycle. Sports such as racquetball, basketball, or martial arts (to name a few) are also excellent for our riding because, again, they will force us to be “athletic problem solvers” and engage our mind-body awareness.
In conclusion: it is winter-time, enjoy a little time away from your bicycle, but stay active, and be intelligent in your choice of activities. Go out and compete with yourself (and/or others) and learn something about yourself as an athlete (in success and failure!). Keep that competitive mind and your mind-body connection sharp even if you aren’t putting in an extensive amount of time on the bike. If done correctly, these gains will carry over into your riding season.
There are two big myths in the cycling community that hold back many riders. The myth of the “natural athlete” and the myth of the “magic pill” have played a huge role in depressing riders confidence for years.
Many people seem to think that the best people in sports are gifted or born with natural talent and that simply isn’t the case.
Yet despite not being a “natural athlete” I have done okay for myself in snowboarding and mountain biking.
The “magic pill” or “pros secret” does not exist. So many people think that if they just knew that “one thing” that Steve Peat, JHK, Sam Hill, Ryan Trebon, or whoever their hero his knew they could ride as well as them.
Check out this video of BetterRide Alumnus Joey Schusler ripping trails and having fun in Columbia!
My hydration pack is full on long rides, not just with water. In addition to the usual multi tool, spare tube, first aid kit, jacket and patch kit these items can make a ride ending mishap a minor inconvenience.
2. Your cell phone! Just because you friend is carrying his doesn’t mean you don’t need yours. Where our friend wrecked AT&T phones had no reception but Verizon did (my Verizon however was in my car). Having my phone would of gotten help there hours earlier.
This is by no means everything you may need. Always bring more water and clothing than you think you will need on long rides.
As someone who spends 12 months a year traveling the world coaching mountain biking, mountain biking and racing I have my favorite spots! I will start with the continental United States and deep winter (Mid-December through Feb.). When 90% of the country is freezing there are a few spots I love to ride in.
We will start with South Mountain. At over 16,000 acres (for comparison Vail Resort is the largest single mountain ski resort in the US a 5,289 acres) and over a thousand vertical feet it has great trails for advanced beginners to pros. South Mountain is my favorite place to ride in Phoenix as it has some of the rockiest, most challenging trails in the country that always keep me on my toes.
North of Phoenix off of I-17 is the Black Canyon Trail which has several trail heads and will one day go from Flagstaff to Tucson. It has quite a few fun sections all not for from I-17.
For late fall and late winter riding (Mid-November through December and mid-February through April) all of the above are great with Sedona and Boulder City warming up quite a bit.
Other favorite late fall and late winter destinations are Austin, TX, Albuquerque, NM, Saint George/Hurricane, UT and most of California.
I have purposely left out a lot of great trails and areas near those above has we live in a big, beautiful country, go out and explore!