For roadies, there’s something called an “off season.” This is the chasm between fall and spring during which there is no road racing, and around these parts it pretty much starts now. While some cyclists foolishly squander this time by enjoying themselves and doing different types of riding, roadies are above such frivolity. Not content to simply be squirrely on their bikes, they’re also squirrely in that they’re collecting metaphorical acorns for next season by putting on base mileage, doing LSD (the boring kind) and working out in gyms. And as any good roadie knows, there’s always something else you should be doing, and you better be doing it too lest your competitors get a jump on you. Here are some ways to maximize your off-season that you may be missing out on:
Every season some coach, pro racer, or publication decides there’s some hot kind of cross training you should be doing over the winter. Whatever that may be this year, figure it out and do it. It used to be fixed-gear riding. Then it was cross-country skiing. Then speed-skating. Then it was weights. Then weights were bad for you. Then one year Chris Carmichael said it was single-speed mountain biking, but the roadies were afraid to get dirty and that never really took off. I don’t know what it’s going to be this year. It could be Pilates, or gardening, or wrestling shaved pitbulls in kiddie pools full of Vaseline. I’m not going to do your homework for you. Just keep your ears open and stay ahead of the curve.
Sandbag in Cyclocross
Are you a higher-category road racer with no results but a little bit of form left? Well, take that form, head to the nearest C race, and grab yourself that elusive victory! There’s nothing more fun and vindicating than lining up alongside a bunch of junior racers and their grandfathers and beating them all. It’s a good way to stay in shape and a great way to pump up that ego for next season. Plus, you’ll earn the instant respect of the regulars. You'll put the "d-bag" back in "sand-bag."
Reconnect With Your Spouse or Life Partner
This is particularly important for the married male roadie with a non-cycling spouse. As important as your accomplishments on the road may be to you, they’re not nearly as important to your wife, no matter what she tells you. She is not bragging to her friends that she is married to the King of the Park, she does not like that you go to bed at nine and wake up at five, and she does not still reminisce about that time you won a $20 prime and bought her an omelette. So take this time to remind her that she’s important, or she might find someone else who actually likes to have fun. Remember: behind every good roadie is a good woman, and behind her is a mountain biker.
Shop for Holiday Gifts For Your Coach
Many roadies feel the need to pay somebody to tell them when and how to ride. If you are one of these roadies, take this time to make your coach feel appreciated. After all, not every coach has a long roster of pro clients and a book deal. In fact, most of them live hand-to-mouth and are pretty much the equivalent of ski bums. Did you notice that the car your coach drove to that stage race last summer cost less than your front hub? Or that his SRM cranks look suspiciously like a pair of Sears torque wrenches fastened with a carriage bolt? Or that he’s collecting your used gel packets, cutting them open, and scraping out the remnants? Meanwhile you’re riding around on an Orbea that would make a pimp blush, buying chamois cream at Kiehl’s, and using Ksyrium SLs as training wheels. So give your coach a gift this holiday season. He probably needs it.
Join the Adopt-a-Pro Program
Your coach is like Jay-Z compared to a domestic pro, though. These people earn less than minimum wage—in Liberia. And thanks to the Adopt-a-Pro program, for the cost of just one pair of high-end racing clinchers a month you can change the life of one of these athletes. If you’re the kind of person who keeps his Colnago in a climate-controlled garage and arrives at the roll-out to the local training ride in a BMW only to get dropped by guys with pro contracts who can’t afford new socks, you might occasionally feel a little embarassed. And you absolutely should. So assuage that slightly by adopting a pro today.
If you’ve ever eaten with a bunch of roadies, you know it’s like eating with a bunch of teenage girls. There is nothing quite as annoying as watching adults titter guiltily over eating half a pastry or taking a sip of beer, and there’s nothing quite as disgusting as watching someone blot the oil from a slice of pizza. Worse yet is when they turn nutritionist on you and tell you what you’re eating and why it’s too fattening. I’d rather eat veal with a vegan than just about anything with a roadie. So please, do the rest of the cycling world a favor—loosen up and eat something. And please, please, please don’t tell us about how bad you were at Thanksgiving. Unless you ate a turducken-stuffed manatee your Hiltonesque nibblings are not noteworthy.
Head to the Southern Hemisphere
Winter is a great time for mountain biking. You’re out of the wind, you get warmed up quick, you learn bike handling skills, and you have fun. Of course, if you’re like most roadies, you don’t like to get dirty, you can’t handle your bike and have no intention of learning, and you certainly don’t like to have fun. So if you absolutely must live in complete denial and pretend the road season never ended, do what the pros do and head southern hemisphere. It’s a crazy, mixed-up world where winter is summer, left is right, black is white, toilets flush in reverse, and the deer hop on two legs. You’ll love it! We'll miss you, though...