Three tips for a hassle-free return to the saddle outdoors

Emilie Hauss
  • 4 minutes

Many of us continue indoor cycling during the long winter months. Some people spin in their living room, while others train in their garage. Some people even cycle in their unheated backyard shack. That’s the case for at least one Cycling Avenue employee. During those many hours pedaling away in the saddle, daydreaming about warm weather and moving forward like our Zwift character, we give our 110% effort (or 60%, depending on the energy level) and sometimes adopt behaviors which may have unknown consequences. To avoid unpleasant surprises, here are three tips to restart your outdoor season on the right foot.

1. Good Posture

When riding indoors, it’s important to maintain the same neck angle as when riding outdoors. Placing your tablet, laptop, or monitor at eye level will help you avoid a lot of neck pain in the spring.

Many people make the mistake of putting their devices on a table below their typical field of vision outdoors and end up with discomfort on the first few outings because the neck muscles aren’t used to supporting the head in this position.

Several solutions are available to remedy the situation; there are tablet supports that can be attached to your handlebars, or opt for a good old-fashioned music lectern that will support your tablet as well.

For people like me who use their laptop, a high stool can be an easy fix. For those who have their TV mounted on the wall, it’s often already at a good height. Also, depending on your exerciser and how high it raises your rear wheel, a block for your front wheel may be necessary to balance the height of your position without always feeling like you’re leaning forward.

2. If you sweat a lot, don’t neglect the towel

A towel isn’t only necessary to wipe your forehead or arms. It’s also rather useful when placed on your handlebars to prevent (salty) sweat from being deposited on your bike. You might think it's just sweat and it doesn't matter, but over time it can affect some of the components of your bike because it doesn’t dissipate in the air like when you ride outside.
Come spring, it’s not uncommon for technicians servicing your bike to spend more time cleaning or changing certain parts due to sodium build-up. The most common areas of build-up are the speed/brake levers, the steering column, the crankset and the bottle holder screws. By placing a towel on your handlebars and/or by installing an anti-perspiration cloth, you’ll avoid salt accumulation, which is both harmful to your bike and unpleasant for your technicians.

3. A little weight training isn’t a bad idea!

To ensure an efficient return without any aches and pains, it’s important to devote part of your training time to strengthening your muscles. Climbing a hill on Zwift doesn’t stimulate the same muscles as when you’re actually climbing a hill outdoors.

Outside, you can feel your abdominal muscles contracting, along with your lower back, biceps and triceps flexing as you climb. You’ll likely experience less of that when you’re climbing in front of your screen. Therefore, it’s important to keep these muscles activated. Don’t neglect to strengthen your buttocks and legs in order to get back on the road as smoothly as possible.

If you have access to a personal trainer, follow their advice based on your established goals. Alternatively, here are some exercises that can easily be integrated into your routine;

  • The classic plank and lateral plank
  • Lunges and squats
  • Push-ups
  • Finally, if you keep these three tips in mind; a good posture with a forward rather than a downward glance, a towel to avoid sodium build-up in your bike components, and a little workout to keep your body ready for the return to the saddle, you should return to the road as you left it in the fall!