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Training outdoors in the winter...any benefits?

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Training outdoors in the winter...any benefits?

Old 12-29-17, 07:34 PM
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Billy1111
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Training outdoors in the winter...any benefits?

I really dont like being indoors, the past couple winters i did zwift etc. So this winter has already started out brutally here in the north east.. Its definitely makes the training harder, feeling like u have to put out more power just to get thru the air!

so my question does training out in the cold have advantages to sitting on the trainer? will i reap any physical rewards from it? Or am i suffering for nothing?
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Old 12-29-17, 08:09 PM
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Really riding is always more fun than trainer time, but I think from a programmatic training and fitness perspective, if you can do the hours inside, there’s more benefit to trainer work (assuming proper training and equipment).
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Old 12-29-17, 09:04 PM
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I generally switch to mt. biking in the fall. I have a hard time motivating to road ride below 35 deg., or so. Mt. biking let’s me extend down to about 15-20, less wind in the woods, I’m rarely moving over 10mph and it’s a nice change of pace.
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Old 12-29-17, 09:22 PM
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I gave away both of my trainers. I have one MTB with studded tires and one without studs always ready. I do like that MTB is warmer, if the ground is clean and there is no chance of ice forming I might ride a road bike. It's much better for me to be outside. Been riding two wheels in ice and snow since about 1968.
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Old 12-29-17, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I generally switch to mt. biking in the fall. I have a hard time motivating to road ride below 35 deg., or so. Mt. biking let’s me extend down to about 15-20, less wind in the woods, I’m rarely moving over 10mph and it’s a nice change of pace.
This. Mountain biking in the winter is a luxury we have in the south. In the North you can fat bike in the snow I guess.
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Old 12-30-17, 12:15 AM
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Being also from the northeast, I think the benefits of winter riding are mostly mental but well worth it. You can probably get a better workout doing a spinning class indoors, but I fail to see the joy of sitting in a dank, smelly room while a 27 year old who weighs 120 lbs screams at me over the latest Taylor Swift garbage. There's a special zen to cycling outside in any weather, and it can be especially rewarding when you're bundled up and riding through crisp air while lazier folks are sitting inside. I rode Tuesday of this week and it was 21 deg with 15mph winds for a wind chill in the single digits. There was no one outside except for us 4 riders and people looking at us like we were crazy, but we cranked out 33 miles including a nice 1.5 mile climb up a 7% grade. It was glorious and we felt like warriors when we were done.
Once you've ridden in 25 deg weather, everything else is easier. Go outside and ride.
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Old 12-30-17, 12:57 AM
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I’d much rather ride a few hours in the cold than sitting on a trainer. I’ve got music and Zwift and I’m good for 65min or enough to do one 2x20 set indoors whereas I can happily ride for 4hrs in the cold provided it’s not raining. Easier to get volume outside.
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Old 12-30-17, 01:26 AM
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I think you feel like a hardbody when you ride in the cold, but I don't think there's really any training advantage to it. It might even be a little worse, if it's so cold that you're struggling to breathe as deeply as you need to to support your power output in very cold air.

I know this doesn't compare to cold weather riding where the OP is at right now, but I did just do a few night rides down in the 30s here in AZ, and I found them onerous. Not because of the feeling of being cold, because I layered up appropriately and actually felt pretty good. It's just that the layering required made all of my movements a little harder, soaking up some energy just to move my body and clothing. At some point I was paranoid to boost my power output too much, just because sweating would threaten my layering strategy and possibly make me subject to the cold. My breathing wasn't the same either. I know that I personally would struggle to keep up with an actual training program out in the cold (or cool, as compared to some of you guys), and if I had a trainer I'd probably benefit more from using it than plodding along outside all bundled up.
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Old 12-30-17, 01:50 AM
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Base training on the indoor trainer really sucks. Its hard to get the volume you need. Buy proper winter specific clothing, dont cheap out and cover all bases. As long as you have proper clothing, you should be fine. Being cold is miserable, and completely avoidable.

I use the trainer for interval work and squeezing in workouts as quick as possible during the work week. I really find it superior to riding outdoors in this respect. Time spent on the trainer is usually alot more productive than riding outdoors.
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Old 12-30-17, 05:02 AM
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I've done several Century-A-Month challenges, and most have been done on the Canadian Prairies, right through the winter.

While most of my winter training in Canada, in particular, was done indoors, there was something about getting out to commute and to ride these centuries, that helped preserve my sanity and kept my motivation up.
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Old 12-30-17, 07:13 AM
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I think training outdoors is actually less productive than the same amount of time on the trainer when the weather is bad. You're likely pedaling less (due to stops, terrain, etc), so getting less work done, and then add in all that extra time dealing with getting dressed and all...

If I have 60 minutes to squeeze in a ride, I can usually get 58 or so minutes of pedaling on the trainer versus probably only 35 minutes of pedaling outside once I get dressed and and out the door and all.

Trainer is a bit more boring, but way more efficient and more comfortable if it's freezing outside.
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Old 12-30-17, 08:24 AM
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Well I did two hours outside yesterday in 34 degree weather and loved it. By 30 minutes inside on the rollers I go crazy. So, when possible I ride outside because I ride longer and harder and stay mentally into it. Plus it is extra work to ride hard and spin your normal cadence when you've got all that extra winter clothing on.
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Old 12-30-17, 05:14 PM
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I think it's a more intense workout in the cold, definitely different than on warm days.
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Old 12-30-17, 05:42 PM
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Rule #9 sums it up.....
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Old 12-30-17, 06:33 PM
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Riding inside is way more efficient compared to outside in most instances. You go according to heartrate not coasting and heat training. Sure it is not outside you cannot duplicate climbing to any degree but a hammer session for 60 minutes can worth 120 outside.
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Old 12-30-17, 07:53 PM
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If measurable gains in performance ability are what you want, then I believe a rigorous, incremental indoor training program would be the way to go, but I seriously doubt that riding for an hour on a trainer just to say you've put in some training is going to have any more benefit than riding outside instead. Both should keep you from losing ground. The only benefit is that riding indoors doesn't take as long. But personally, I find rides in the snow and such (like today's) are their own rewards.
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Old 12-30-17, 08:28 PM
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pride? street cred? intangibles? mixing it up can only help, even if we don't yet know how
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Old 12-30-17, 08:56 PM
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There are lots of benefits to riding outside.

Riding on the road engages the core muscles, helps the body learn balance, allows you to practice looking behind you, provides fresh air and probably a half dozen other benefits that a trainer does not.

Resistance rollers with a fixed gear bike on the back deck would be the next best thing.

Last edited by TimothyH; 12-30-17 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 12-30-17, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
There are lots of benefits to riding outside.

Riding on the road engages the core muscles, helps the body learn balance, allows you to practice looking behind you,
Pretty much every single thing you do engages your core muscles. Why do you need to learn balance? If you can ride a bike (or walk), you can already balance.

Why do you need to practice looking behind you? Can't you just do that already?
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Old 12-30-17, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Hapsmo911 View Post
Rule #9 sums it up.....
This
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Old 12-30-17, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Pretty much every single thing you do engages your core muscles. Why do you need to learn balance? If you can ride a bike (or walk), you can already balance.

Why do you need to practice looking behind you? Can't you just do that already?

A trainer doesn't engage the core muscles the same way actually riding does. This can't even be debated.

As for balance, can you take off your rain shell and put it into your jersey pocket while riding or do you have to stop? I have ridden with people who can. Balance becomes an issue for some later in life and flexibility can as well.

Are you able to put your head down and look back at traffic under your armpit?


-Tim-
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Old 12-31-17, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
A trainer doesn't engage the core muscles the same way actually riding does. This can't even be debated.

As for balance, can you take off your rain shell and put it into your jersey pocket while riding or do you have to stop? I have ridden with people who can. Balance becomes an issue for some later in life and flexibility can as well.

Are you able to put your head down and look back at traffic under your armpit?


-Tim-
Again, what doesn't engage your core? That's about the third time in two days I've seen someone post that about riding outside or on rollers instead of on a trainer, as if it's something significant. Everything aside from laying on the bed engages your core. You're not working out your core by going for a bike ride, period, much less on the road versus on the trainer.

Yes, I can, but not because I chose to ride outside instead of riding inside. I doubt most people go outside and practice declothing as if that's some sort of vitally important skill you'll lose by riding on the trainer.

Again, yes, and turn my full body around, too. And again, not something I "practice", and not something anyone practices.

Point being, absolutely none of that has anything to do with riding outside versus riding inside.
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Old 12-31-17, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Again, what doesn't engage your core? That's about the third time in two days I've seen someone post that about riding outside or on rollers instead of on a trainer, as if it's something significant. Everything aside from laying on the bed engages your core. You're not working out your core by going for a bike ride, period, much less on the road versus on the trainer.

Yes, I can, but not because I chose to ride outside instead of riding inside. I doubt most people go outside and practice declothing as if that's some sort of vitally important skill you'll lose by riding on the trainer.

Again, yes, and turn my full body around, too. And again, not something I "practice", and not something anyone practices.

Point being, absolutely none of that has anything to do with riding outside versus riding inside.
I think you discount too much, or expect 'practice' to mean too much. If you do something regularly as a matter of course, you have, in fact, practiced it, and you may well be good enough at it that you don't need to continue practicing it and develop your skills through the winter. But if others have never done anything like don or doff a jacket while riding, or turned around bodily while riding, you know they will be very awkward or fail the first time they try.

One may not think that such things are important to riding, and certainly if one is only interested in power and speed, they are irrelevant, but if one wants to be fully comfortable, confident and skilled on a bike, one has to develop the sense and skill to do such things. What all this has to do with training and riding outside vs. stationary bikes is that when on a stationary bike, you can't lose your balance, whereas when riding on rollers or on the road, you can, and you have to engage your core and account for the position and movement of your whole body in ways that you never do on a stationary bike.

Many of us can stand to be more skilled bike handlers, and most rides fail to provide much opportunity to develop bike handling skills, so riding rollers can be seen as an ideal opportunity in this respect; stationary bikes provide no such opportunity.
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Old 12-31-17, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
I think you discount too much, or expect 'practice' to mean too much. If you do something regularly as a matter of course, you have, in fact, practiced it, and you may well be good enough at it that you don't need to continue practicing it and develop your skills through the winter. But if others have never done anything like don or doff a jacket while riding, or turned around bodily while riding, you know they will be very awkward or fail the first time they try.

One may not think that such things are important to riding, and certainly if one is only interested in power and speed, they are irrelevant, but if one wants to be fully comfortable, confident and skilled on a bike, one has to develop the sense and skill to do such things. What all this has to do with training and riding outside vs. stationary bikes is that when on a stationary bike, you can't lose your balance, whereas when riding on rollers or on the road, you can, and you have to engage your core and account for the position and movement of your whole body in ways that you never do on a stationary bike.

Many of us can stand to be more skilled bike handlers, and most rides fail to provide much opportunity to develop bike handling skills, so riding rollers can be seen as an ideal opportunity in this respect; stationary bikes provide no such opportunity.
To be clear, the context of this discussion is riding inside versus outside in the winter. So what you're both asserting is that you're doing these things to such an extent during your normal riding time, and you'll be deprived of it to such an extent by riding indoors for a few months ,that it's actually going to be detrimental to your riding ability once you get back outside again?

The whole balance thing is really silly. Any five year old that has learned to ride a bike then has that balance to ride a bike for the rest of their lives barring some injury or issue. You're actually asserting that a winter of riding inside is going to rob you of this skill or something? It makes no sense.

Same thing with taking off a jacket while riding. Who does that? In twelve years of riding I think I've taken off a jacket or vest while riding half a dozen times. Maybe. Again, not something riding indoors is going to rob you of seeing as how you do it so rarely to begin with.

Again with the core. Riding a bike is not exercising your core anymore than walking down the road is exercising your core. It's a total non-starter. If you want to work your core, then work your core. Riding or not riding a bike in a specific way has nothing to do with it.

Riding rollers does not improve bike handling skills because you're not going anywhere, taking any turns, encountering any obstacles, or riding in proximity to anyone else. Those are actual relevant bike handling skills. Keeping your bike within a one foot "lane" like you'd do on rollers is not a skill so much as a coordination effort which, again, essentially anyone that's learned how to ride a bike (especially road cyclists who ride lots) has and does not lose.

What you notice in "handling skills" with people coming out of the winter is pack skills; riding in proximity and pacelines, etc. Again, nothing to do with simply riding inside versus outside.
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Old 12-31-17, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Again, what doesn't engage your core? That's about the third time in two days I've seen someone post that about riding outside or on rollers instead of on a trainer, as if it's something significant. Everything aside from laying on the bed engages your core. You're not working out your core by going for a bike ride, period, much less on the road versus on the trainer.

Yes, I can, but not because I chose to ride outside instead of riding inside. I doubt most people go outside and practice declothing as if that's some sort of vitally important skill you'll lose by riding on the trainer.

Again, yes, and turn my full body around, too. And again, not something I "practice", and not something anyone practices.

Point being, absolutely none of that has anything to do with riding outside versus riding inside.
Agree completely. People reason, if that's the word, back from conclusions to premises: they have a vague sense that riding outdoors is better than riding indoors and that rollers are better than trainers and patch together arguments to support those choices.

Yes, I rode rollers for winter training throughout the 1970s but switched to trainers as soon as the first version of the Racermate came on the market. Now I'm happy to use an exercise bike, since it lets me do focused interval sessions without wearing tires out.

"Bike handling skills," indeed. If you can ride 100 yards without falling over, you have all the bike handling skills anyone needs to ride in a straight line. If you want to improve your efficiency on the bike, ride with people who are stronger than you.

And any time I read the buzzword "core" in one of these discussions, I know that I can safely ignore the rest of the sentence.

Last edited by Trakhak; 12-31-17 at 08:08 AM.
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