The season of weight training and nutritional debauchery is here
The dust has settled on the World Championships in Bergen – the rainbow stripes have been re-administered and even most of the pros are packing their bikes up, ready for the annual cobweb gathering competition that is the off-season.
Amateur cyclists, to a certain extent, are no different – though perhaps a little less informed and not quite as fit.
Here’s a guide to getting the off-season ‘right’, by all amateur cyclists ever…
Spend a week doing nothing, and telling everyone about it
Start by binging on the recovery which you’ve failed to give your body all season. Except those hours hunched over your desk at work – which don’t count.
Use the hours you would spend riding your bike to slope around the house, dragging your legs and mumbling some sort of justification for living in compression pants despite not actually exercising. Soon those you share the home with will be begging for the break to end.
Engage in culinary debauchery
Power to weight is irrelevant between now and… ohh… March, maybe. And the pre-season weight loss drive wouldn’t be nearly so fun if you didn’t gain enough weight to actually reach crisis point – so best start now. Pint of Guinness with a side of cake, please!
See all neglected friends and family members
Those who don’t cycle with you are starting to forget what you look like when not dressed in lycra and disappearing out the door at earliest opportunity.
Spend a few weekends catching up. This may include picking up a few DIY jobs and household chores you’ve managed to avoid by travelling to events far, far away. Just make sure you punctuate conversations by informing everyone that this is an annual treat.
Find ways to destroy body in minimal time, without the bike
One week no exercise: complete. Your muscles are starting to return to a state where a small child could prod your quads without resulting in squeals and just-about-stifled tears. So obviously it’s time to screw it all right up. Really make your hard working physio/osteo/sports masseuse wince.
Suggested exercises include time in the gym (because core strength) and running (because bone density). Pilates and yoga are your other options. Anything that limits your ability to walk the following day.
Buy a new cyclocross bike, love it for a month, then break a mech hanger and spend the remainder of the ‘cross season trying to buy the correct replacement.
Write a training plan
Once about a month has passed, you might want to start thinking about how you’re going to organise your winter for best results next year.
Settle down with a coffee (flatwhitemachiatospresso) and a slab of cake (the dietary debauchery can continue until January), an Excel spreadsheet or a notebook with lots of coloured pens.
Skim the opening chapter and headings of a few books until you feel like you’re pretty much in a position to take over coaching of the GB Olympic squad and away you go.
Subscribe to Zwift
Hire a coach
Follow your own plan for a few months, to varying degrees of dedication. Note that self-coaching isn’t proving entirely successful, and hunt out that mate of the guy in your cycling club who sometimes writes plans for people.
Give the coach about a month to prove themselves. Question everything they ask you to do. Discuss the plan with your cycling mates and determine you all know better. Decide to save yourself the cash and spend it on a new bike – which will make you much faster.
Buy a new bike
Do it all exactly like last year
Because, last year wasn’t so bad – and if you hold the same form, maybe you can win the club handicap cup again. Just ride the first 10-mile TT of the season on that cyclocross bike you didn’t ride all year.