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How to stay fit during the winter: 3 NYC bikers offer tips and advice.

12 February 2010 No Comment

New York City, February 2010. With the latest wave of snow hitting NYC just days ago, mountain bikers and roadies alike are forced to keep their bikes on lockdown as they watch their favorite trail system or road route hibernate into winter mode. If the snow isn’t enough to keep most people off their bikes, the cold temperatures should do the trick. Freezing hands, cold feet and miserable conditions are just a few good reasons to call off the afternoon ride and hang out indoors.

Story and photography by Nathan Kraxberger (www.nathankraxberger.com)

While the outdoor winter is tough on cyclists, an indoor winter can be a great way to stay in shape and fend off that winter coat. If you can manage to stay in shape during the winter, you will have a real advantage when the beginning of the cycling season comes around. Many riders find that winter is a great time to get off the bike and work on different aspects of fitness. Cross training is a great way to help your biking, both physically and mentally. Others prefer to hit the gym, either working on muscular development and strength, or hitting a yoga class to help with flexibility.

Whether you ride 12 months a year or shut it down when the temps start to dip, all of us can take something away from these NYC riders. NYC delivers such a great diversity of bikers. Have a look at what the following 3 guys have to say. We have a mountain bike racer, a road racer (also a mtb racer), and a DH/Slalom racer here to offer their thoughts on winter training.

NAME: John Griffiths, 31
YEARS RIDING/RACING: 4/2
RACING CATEGORY: XC Cat 2

John Griffiths, Feb 5th, 2010

John Griffiths commuting, Feb 5th, 2010

John is one of those riders who goes out no matter the conditions. He commutes daily to and from work to stay fit all year long. John is a member of Team NYCMTB-Peak Bikes and races as a Cat 2. One of his goals this year is to upgrade to Cat 1. John also likes the longer races. With four 100 mile races under his belt from 2009, John hopes to continue that trend this year, and commuting is just one part of his training plan.

1. What is the hardest thing about staying in shape in the winter? Motivation to get up when my alarm goes off at 5:55 and it’s dark and freezing outside.
2. Describe your diet during the winter. Does it change much from the summer months? No real change. I try not to eat as much if I’m not training as much.
3. Do you ride rollers or a trainer in the winter? I ride a bike outdoors.
4. Describe what recovery means to you. Eat well, sleep well, relax on that day off.
5. What is your favorite piece of winter riding apparel? Pearl Izumi Amfib tights.

NAME: Greg Waggoner, 39
YEARS RIDING/RACING: 11/10
RACING CATEGORY: XC Pro, Cat 5 Road

Greg Waggoner getting a workout in (what a view!), Feb 11th, 2010

Greg Waggoner, Feb 11th, 2010

If you are racing against Greg Waggoner, you are racing against one of the fastest guys around. Greg is a PRO XC racer who also races an occasional road race to mix it up. With a wife and 2 kids at home, Greg still manages to stay fit and strong all year around. He is also a Professional Coach (www.gwbike.com) and a member of the Sid’s mountain bike team.

1. What is the hardest thing about staying in shape in the winter? Watching my diet. I don’t gain much weight, but too much junk food and I definitely don’t train as hard.
2. What would you say are the top 3 things you do to stay bike fit in the winter? Ride 3 times a week, get good sleep, and strength train.
3. Do you ride outdoors 12 months a year? Are indoor training sessions for wimps? On the contrary, indoor riding is so boring. If you are able to do it effectively you must have some mental toughness. I don’t really train in November, so 11 months a year. 28 degrees is my cutoff temp for road rides. I won’t ride wet roads in the winter either. Don’t trust the cars.
4. Describe your diet during the winter. Does it change much from the summer months? If so, how? I’ve actually been counting calories for the first time. Not really for weight control but to be consistent from day to day. I try to match intake and output number of calories each day. I’ve been eating about 3000 calories per day.
5. What are your favorite electronic components on the bike? Power Tap! I have one for the road bike and would love to get one for the mountain bike too.

NAME: Eric Fleming, 33
YEARS RIDING/RACING: 17/12
RACING CATEGORY: Cat 1 DH/Slalom

Eric Fleming, Feb 9th, 2010

Eric Fleming practicing his sprints, Feb 9th, 2010

Eric Fleming is a rare breed in NYC. He is a Cat 1 DH/Slalom racer. Period. You may see a lot of road cyclists out and about on the streets on NYC, but it’s rare you see a rider like Eric. If he isn’t on his bike, his real estate (www.eric-fleming.com) business is occupying his time. Eric is the kind of rider who takes it indoors when the temps get too cold. He finds running and spin classes work well for him.

1. What is the hardest thing about staying in shape in the winter? Living in NYC and going out and having an active social life. All the dinner/cocktail parties, meetings, and events can really pack on calories.
2. Describe a winter workout that you do. I do sprints on my race bike. When I raced BMX I was taught to do downhill sprints to get a better spin. On West 70th behind my building there is a nice gradual slope. I keep the bike in a light gear and try to keep my legs as fluid as possible without shifting to a harder gear. This gets you great pedaling form on the bike.
3. If it is just too darn cold out, what do you do indoors to stay bike fit? I try not to eat everything in the fridge…
4. Any advice for people who just can’t seem to stay motivated during the winter months? Some people are very seasonal with everything, not just riding, and I’m one of them. It has probably hurt my performace over the years, but being an athlete for as long as I’ve been, I know how to train correctly and can turn it on. It usually takes me about a month or so to get into good fitness for my discipline. Once the chairlifts are running, I’ll spend 2 weekends just banging out runs and getting myself back into DH shape.
5. What is your favorite piece of winter riding apparel? Fox Polarpaw gloves. They are great and very comfortable. All the winter gloves I’ve used prior gave me no feeling for the handlebar. These arent too far off from my regular riding gloves and these keep me very warm.
Story and photography by Nathan Kraxberger (www.nathankraxberger.com)

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