Every day I cycle up to that hill. I think we all have that stupid hill. I ride up to it and as I’m getting closer and closer I’m hoping and praying that the light just before it will turn red so I have an excuse to stop and rest before tackling it. It stares me down and I stare it down. It knows I’m tired from work and it’s trying to break me. I remember the joy I felt zipping down it this morning on the way to work at what feels like light speed. Everything was so fast and so easy. But the way back up isn’t easy. The way back up sucks. This is my off-the-trail training journey.
Let’s face it. Getting all your gear together and heading out to the mountain isn’t always in the cards. I work ten billion hours a week and am usually pretty exhausted most of the time. Combine that with the non-summer sun going down at 6pm and it’s a recipe for no riding for a long time. So I have been trying to find other things I can do in the meantime to not lose any of the progress I’ve made out on the trails.
The first thing has been actual hitting the gym time. I’ve done both in the gym and at-home workouts. I do enjoy this time but, ultimately, I prefer to actually be DOING something.
Probably similar to sticking a trail runner on a treadmill. Sure it’s fine and all but to actually get out on the move is where you really want to be. Either way, I find it extremely helpful to get my muscles in shape in order to last longer on my bike when on the trails. I have noticed an improvement for sure, but the only down side is still dealing with the sore legs from the squats you did that week while trying to shred. Doesn’t work so well when you start out tired.
The second is where the beginning of this blog comes in. Road cycling time. I’m not a great road cyclist. More of a semi-reluctant commuter if anything. If you saw me out on the road I definitely look like a mountain biker on her way to work. But I do have some great friends who are very skilled in this area and I was very happy to take one of them up on his offer to show me the ropes. Bryan and I hit the streets and he showed me some good routes to take, general roadie etiquette, and some general bike control type stuff (including shifting pointers). He’s great on the road, competes in cyclocross, and is a mountain unicyclist which is amazing to watch.
While I grumbled and suffered through some of this time, overall it was just nice to be on a bike, any bike, and doing my thing. There’s nothing quite like feeling the wind on your face and that sense of freedom knowing you won’t have to pay for parking when you get downtown. Of course there are negative moments (like the hill of doom) and idiotic moments (no matter what the weather says or what it looks like outside, it will rain in Vancouver and I really need to learn to prepare for that) but the days come where maybe you don’t need t use your granny gear to get up that hill. Maybe you’re not as sweaty and out of breath. Maybe you made it to work in record time. Either way, these little accomplishments add up and suddenly you’re riding all the way from your car to the trail head when before you couldn’t even make it to the gate. Riding on the road isn’t my favourite thing in the world, but it’s a great, eco-friendly, free way to commute, helps me with my overall fitness goals, and has definitely helped me on the mountains.
Whatever your off-mountain fitness routine is it all adds up to help you out when you just have to get in one more run to perfect that feature that gave you trouble last time. I’ll definitely be checking in with more of the off the trails fitness tales as time goes on. What works? What doesn’t? What’s fun? We’ll see…