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Why you should still ride outside sometimes this winter

Augment your indoor rides with a weekly session outdoors

Although the weather in most of Canada is still pretty great for riding outside, we know that most of you are dusting off your indoor trainers.

Riding indoors has changed from a dreaded activity to something more enjoyable. Gone are the days of indoor trainers that make you feel like you’re pedalling in squares, watching old Tour de France videos in your basement. Training apps like Zwift have changed everything. You’re not counting down the minutes until your ride is over.

It also means your quality of winter training has gone up tenfold. Not only are you motivated to jump on your trusty trainer, but you can ride longer, and harder. In the old days, when spring rolled around you’d have cobwebs in your legs and not much of a high end. Thanks to training apps, you’ll be ready to race as soon as the snow melts.

Of course, riding inside isn’t quite the same as outdoors. You aren’t steering or changing position as much. You’re not coasting or cornering. It just feels different. Bike trainer platforms help with that, in an effort to simulate outdoor training, but you may not have the space for one.

Thankfully, there’s another way to achieve the benefits of outdoor training: outdoor training. Try and ride once or twice a week outside to augment your indoor training. Even though riding inside is way more bearable, it’s still nice to mix it up and get out in the cold weather and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, it’s smart to hit the roads and keep your technical skills sharp. Go up some hills, go down some hills, fly through some corners.

It’s a good reminder to those little muscles in your legs which don’t always seem to get activated quite the same on the trainer. Ever notice that after a season of riding the trainer, it takes a few days to really feel comfortable outside? This way you’ll avoid that transition from indoors, to outdoors.

Another great winter training idea is a double ride. On the weekend, why not go out for a long outdoor ride, come inside and have a bite to eat, then do some high intensity on the trainer? This will simulate the end of a race when your legs are fried but you still have to mix it up in the final sprint.

If it’s a bit too cold for your road bike, jump on the mountain or gravel bike once or twice during the week to give your legs a little change from Zwift. In the winter, you’re bound to be pushing bigger gears due to the cold, but it’s a good idea to have versatility in your training. Then, the next day when you’re spinning it out inside, you’ll remember just how nice it is to wear shorts in the middle of December, even in your basement.