Skiing and Biking

Off-Season Biking for Skiers

Skiing and Biking. © Walik

Why is biking good for keeping in shape for skiing? First, biking makes you use the quads and core muscles you use skiing, while being easy on the knees.

Second, biking is a great aerobic exercise and, like skiing, bike riding requires short bursts of intensity to raise the heart rate. Running or jogging means maintaining a constant push on the heart rate (not to mention the knees), while biking has some downhill and flat coasting making for a great interval workout.

With biking, you can raise the intensity and keep it raised to meet (or push) your heart rate zones.

The Bike

You don't need a $5000+ bicycle to use for conditioning, but the old one speed bike in the basement may tire you out pretty fast. A good 18 or 21 speed bike that fits your body properly will keep you comfortably pedaling for many enjoyable and rewarding rides. It is a also good idea to tune-up your bike before and during the season. Learn how to fix a flat tire and maintain your bike - many bike shops give seminars at little or no cost.
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Making Mountains Out of Molehills

You don't need mountains to benefit from biking, but hills will add to the leg workout. You can vary the intensity of your ride through the mechanics of your bike. A bike with three basic range of gears can be used to ease you up the hills and to pace you through the flats.

Vary Your Scenery

The best workouts are the ones that won't make you bored.
With a summer goal of keeping skiing muscles tuned and lungs in shape for a day on the slopes, biking offers the opportunity to both explore your world and stay fit. If you think about it, there are probably dozens of different routes around your home that will give you a good workout on a bike.

Biking Trails

If you really start to get bored riding around the house, put the bike on the car and head to a state park or a municipal bike trail.
Bike riding has become such a popular family activity that most states have designated bike trails with no motorized vehicles allowed. These trails are almost always maintained and are a safe place to ride. You may not always get the exertion of road riding but you won't need to keep one eye on the traffic.

Be Safe and Stay Cool

Remember that you'll most likely be biking in the spring or summer. Even though the breeze you create riding feels cool, you still need to keep yourself hydrated. So, make sure you bring water with you.

Road riding can be a little nerve racking at first, but by following traffic laws and wearing a helmet and reflective or eye catching clothing you will get used to going with the flow of traffic.

Next Page: Bicyling Tips

Tips for Bike Riding:

Ride at a harder speed. This is where you can make the bike make the hill. If you are on a small grade, stay in the higher gears to make pedaling harder and you will feel your heart rate rise quickly and your quads start to burn. Don't overdo it, and shift down when you feel the need. Try to stay pumping for longer periods each time.

Try spinning. Spinning is when you use the upstroke leg to pull the pedal up while also pushing the opposite leg into the down stroke.

This maneuver is more common for indoor stationary bikes but if you use biking shoes or pedal baskets it can be converted to an outdoor technique. At first this method of pedaling may seem awkward but with practice it becomes easier and you will definitely see and feel the results.

Use a bike computer. You can get a good bike computer for 10-20 dollars that will calculate your distance ridden, your top speed, your average speed and time riding. This gives you the opportunity to set riding goals like 20 miles in two hours or maintaining 15 mph average. These mount on the handlebar area and are easily cleared and reset for each ride.

Maintain a good speed. Try to ride at a speed that keeps your heart rate slightly elevated most of the time, with either speed bursts or hill climbs to pump you up. The scenery may be wonderful but your out to give your heart and leg muscles a workout.

Join a bike club. Another way to make yourself pay attention to the workout is to look online or in local fitness magazines for bike clubs in your area.

With a club you can join scheduled rides that are usually advertised by average speed, distance and terrain difficulty and meeting time/place. Join one you will feel comfortable keeping up with and you can get that feeling by paying attention to your computer readouts and how you feel maintaining certain speeds over distances.

Tips for Clothing:

Dress for drying. Wear clothes like shorts and shirts that will dry and wick your perspiration. Most bike shops have a special collection of biking specific clothing that make a good investment and last for years.

Tips for Safety:

Wear a helmet. Make everyone you love wear a helmet. No excuses here - helmets are affordable and the most basic is designed to standards that will keep your head safe in a fall.

Obey traffic rules. Use signals when turning, don't weave in traffic, and stop at lights. Do what you would do if you were driving a car, but always pay attention to the road, cars, other cyclists, and where you are.

Carry dog biscuits. Some dogs hate bikers, or simply have the urge to chase or "herd" a moving object. Throwing a biscuit to a menacing dog may give to time to pedal off and save your leg for skiing. If you do get bit, find the owner or try to remember the dog. Demand proof of rabies vaccination for your protection. Call the authorities if you need to.

Enjoy the outdoors, stay cool and remember you probably won't be pedaling this hard when the snow flies.