Canada has some of the world’s best mountain biking but it is not always accessible. Long winter months mean time away from the bike which, if you don’t stay active somehow, can make the first weeks of spring a rough re-introduction to pedalling.
There’s two sides to winter in Canada, though. The trails may be covered in too much snow for two wheeled fun, but they’re perfect for skiing, skating and all kinds of other frosty fitness activities. Here’s seven ways to stay in shape through a Canadian winter.
Indoor bike parks
Sharpen your skills on the bike, or learn new ones. You can’t get more bike-specific with your training than being on a bike. Indoor parks are also wildly fun, too. You don’t have to be a pro dirt jumper to enjoy, or benefit from riding indoors this winter. From beginner friendly flow lines and pump tracks all the way up to big dirt jump lines, most indoor facilities can accommodate riders of all skill levels. Start with whatever bike you have, or rent one, and go from there.
Few sports are as demanding physically as cross country skiing. It’s a full body workout that will push your fitness for any kind of riding so even if you’re not a cross country racer, getting out on the skinny sticks could be your ticket to better riding this spring.
If you’re more focused on the descents than climbs, or opt for a chairlift whenever possible, alpine skiing could be the ticket. It is a great way to stay in touch with the speed, reaction time and leg strength needed for downhill or enduro-style mountain biking. And, honestly, it’s just really fun. If you want to add more of an aerobic element, try earning your turns with back country touring.
Speed skating, casual laps around the park or hockey, any time you spend on ice will help stay fit for spring riding. Your lungs will love the fresh air. Your legs will love the explosive power you develop for sprints when you’re back on the bike. Win win.
The ubiquitous online training platform takes some flack, mostly for its obsessive devotees, but there are tons of upsides to Zwift, too. It’s social, it is bike specific, and it offers an engaging way to keep in touch with your bike fitness without having to dress up to go out into a cold Canadian winter. You don’t have to do all your training online. Pepper Zwift in with your outdoor activities to keep your legs spinning through to spring. There are also a host of other indoor cycling options.
Indoor gym training / Yoga / etc.
Time off of the bike is a great opportunity to build balance and all-round strength that often gets neglected in summer when we just want to ride bikes every day, all day. Whether you hit the gym (or home gym) for weights, work on flexibility, or build core strength and balance through yoga, your body will thank you in the summer.
Climbing may not seem like a direct translation to any kind of mountain biking, there’s less of an aerobic element and its not as fast as mountain biking, but there are all kinds of benefits to hopping into a harness and hitting your local climbing gym. Helping correct muscle imbalances is a great way to help prevent over use injuries and stay healthy when you crash. Plus, a change of pace will make it all the more exciting when the trails dry out and you can pull out the bike again.