Now that September is finally here and the first hint of fall is in the air, it is time to think about what you want to do once your season is officially over. Depending on where you live you may already be done, or you may have another 1-2 months of racing still to go. By this time, however, almost all of us are feeling the burnout associated with a long summer of training and racing.
This is the best time of year to give yourself a mental and physical break from the bike and do things you’ve been missing out on all summer. Once you finish your last race I recommend taking at least four weeks completely off the bike. Your body needs the rest, and your head needs a chance to decompress from the rigors of training and racing. With that being said, I was never very good about staying away from my bike for a month. September and October are some of the best months to ride bikes here in Colorado so I would often grab my mountain bike and go out with friends for some epic rides in the aspens before the snow started falling. It is ok if you still want to ride a few times a week. The biggest thing is that you only ride for fun and you don’t do anything that can be considered “training”. Yes you will lose fitness but that’s the idea. Your body needs a break!
This is also a great time to do some hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, rock climbing etc. Go out with friends and family and catch up on what you’ve missed this past summer. Eat ice cream, stay up late, go to movies, or buy something fun for yourself.
After a month or so of no training, you can slowly start back into a very casual routine of riding. By this I mean you should try and ride your bike 1-2 hours a day, maybe 5 days a week. No structure at this point. You can ride as slow as you’d like. And if your friends are doing a big hard mountain bike ride on the weekend you can definitely go with them. Again the goal is to have fun and not feel like you’re “training” just yet. I would also start a strength training program, lifting 2-3 days a week. You can still throw in hikes and trail runs 1-2 times a week if you’d like. Anything aerobic is good.
After your second month of off-season activities it is now probably November/December.This is the time to get more serious about riding. Depending on your upcoming race schedule you may want to start doing some intensity mixed in with longer rides on the weekend. By January you should be back into the hard core training mode and getting ready for the first races of the season.
The off-season is one of the most important times of the year for cyclists. It gives us a chance to rest and recover from the long season. It is also when you will build the foundation that determines how successful you’ll be next season. Most importantly it reminds us of why we love to ride our bikes; because it’s fun!
Enjoy yourself, enjoy the beautiful fall weather, and rekindle your love and passion for the sport.