Skiers may live for the winter, but they’re made in the off-season. Staying active during the off-season months is essential if you want to get the most out of your winter experiences. But when it comes to cross-country skiing, it can be hard to find activities that help keep you in ‘cross-country shape.’ Cycling is a fantastic way to cross-train for the upcoming Nordic ski season. Not only is it fairly accessible, it’s also trains your body for the challenges that long distance sports bring. But, before you head out on your bike, follow a few of these tips for a better biking experience.
Safety first: always wear a helmet when bicycling.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, every year 550,000 people are treated in the emergency room for injuries related to bicycle riding, and head injuries account for 62% of deaths, 33% of emergencies, and 67% of hospital admissions.
Inspect your bike.
This includes checking your seat, bike chain, spokes, rims, bike tires, pedals, and brakes. If anything isn’t working properly, be sure to get it fixed before riding. When inspecting your tires, be sure to check the pressure. If you have road tires, typically the pressure required is 80 to 130 psi (pounds per square inch); mountain tires, 25 to 35 psi; and hybrid tires, 50 to 70 psi.
No matter what skin type, be sure to wear sunscreen. According to skincancer.org, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40%.
Make sure you get plenty of rest prior to a big ride. And not just the night before—you should rest well for at least two or three nights before a major excursion. This gives your body time to rest, repair, and prepare for the next challenge. Remember: you’re riding to stay in shape this offseason. The distance should be far and it should challenge you. This isn’t a Sunday stroll with the family (but you can do that too!).
In the days leading up to a long ride, remember to eat. You’d be surprised how many people forget this step. Yes, you’re trying to stay in shape and keep those pesky pounds off, but you also have to fuel your body for maximum performance. Eat whole, real foods. Real foods like fruits and pastas fuel your body better than empty sugars. When preparing for a ride or race, fuel up with the premium.
When doing rides that surpass 20, 30, or 50+ miles, it’s important to keep fueling your body. Your bike is the car and you are its engine. When you run out of gas, you won’t get far—and your body is no different. Cycling can burn anywhere from 400 to 600 calories per hour. In order to maximize your results, you have to fuel your body during your ride. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks, gels, and bars when you go on your rides and don’t be shy when hunger strikes.
Last, but certainly not least, have fun! It’s summer, after all! Mileage, body weight, watts, and speed can be great motivators, but nothing keeps you coming back for more than good old-fashioned fun. Ride with others, take in new scenery, or take a bike trip. Whatever you choose to do, choose fun!