There are a million reasons you can list to avoid riding outside: It’s cold, the streets are messy so you’re going to have to clean your bike, you don’t feel like your gloves are warm enough, your bike is on the trainer already, that one place you like to stop is closed in the winter etc. We get it. You may be avoiding thinking about them, but there are actually a number of reasons riding outside can actually benefit you. If you’re properly geared up winter riding can be beneficial to not only your physical health, but your mental health as well (plus you get bragging rights). Here are a few reasons you should ride outside this season.
1. Break up the monotony of trainer rides
If you have an indoor trainer the bike is already set-up and ready to go—it’s much easier than setting up to go outside. That being said, when you find yourself on the third month of indoor riding, semi-dreading your planned ride, it’s probably time to get in a few outdoor workouts if you can. You’ll be surprised at how much they can do for your motivation.
2. The opportunity to experience nature
Riding along familiar roads in the winter can feel like a completely different experience than in the summer. Trees look different without leaves, snow is covering familiar fields and creeks are frozen over. The differences are interesting to notice—riding through nature on a quiet and peaceful winter day can be a meditative experience.
3. Improve your bike handling skills
According to two time Canadian Cyclocross champion Michael van den Ham, “there is nothing better for those early MTB races or slippery fall ‘cross races than sliding around on your bike all winter.”
Even if you’re just getting out on cleared roads your road bike, you’ll be surprised how different cornering and handling the bike feels after a winter on the trainer.
4. It’s important to get fresh air
Many cyclists are working from home this year which means far fewer chances to get some much needed vitamin D. When you dress properly for the cold, the mental health benefits of going for even a short ride though the neighbourhood can be significant.
5. You can get more hours on the bike
Being on the trainer for more than two hours is a pretty miserable experience. Comparatively, when you’re riding outside a two hour ride can slip by in no time. With so much free time on our hands, there’s no better way to fill a morning and feel like you’ve accomplished something for the day.
6. Resistance training
Riding on thicker knobbier tires for better grip will affect your speed to varying degrees. It also tends to be windier in the winter—at times you’ll feel like you’re facing a headwind in every direction. Despite these barriers, training in harder conditions with heavier and slower equipment will help you build up your strength for the summer riding season.
7. Bragging rights
You’re not better than anyone who doesn’t ride outside, but you do have the right to feel good about pushing yourself to get out there and ride in chilly winter conditions.