Enjoying the ride through winter in New England

Athena Thompson

Ahhh, fall. Time for flannel shirts, body warming soup and coming indoors. For many of us though, this is a time to mourn the joy and freedom of summer.

Athletes along the shoreline find it more difficult to get home in time for a run or ride before dark, and as the temperatures begin to dip, we are forced to give up shorts and tanks for full length leggings and fleece.

Outdoor cyclists are especially affected by the shorter days, cooler temps and even the safety factor. Leaves on the road can be slippery when wet and can cover acorns that have fallen which can be problematic for a bike tire.

So what to do to offset your warm weather outdoor workouts? Come in out of the cold and join a spin class. No it’s not the warm summer breeze blowing through your hair, but we have fans for that. To help create a cool summer vibe, expert instructors can guide you through a visualization ride in fabulous locales like the Caribbean beaches or the Colorado Rockies. You might be prompted to find your own version of summer nirvana, and with your eyes closed and Bob Marley playing, you might even enjoy it more than your same ol’ Route 1 ride.

Another benefit from indoor cycling is cardiac conditioning. An indoor ride doesn’t allow for the long downhill break that you would get from the infamous stretch on Route 80 near Chatfield Hollow, for instance. Our way of going downhill is usually in the form of a sprint, the benefit of which is that your heart gets stronger. Of course, we have no problem climbing that hill in the opposite direction, albeit using our imagination.

Indoor cycling, or “spinning,” has other benefits as well. Those winter enthusiasts needing to find their ski legs need not look any further than a spin class. Climbing hills with resistance will build muscle without adding bulk. Some avid outdoor adventurers are lured to the couch when the days get shorter, but signing up for a class will keep your body ready for winter and your mind focused.

Outdoor cycling can be isolating too, but the community of a class and the interaction with like-minded individuals can also help to fend off the fall doldrums.

Tips for finding your perfect class? Try a few different instructors before you make a judgement. There are many different styles out there, some leaning towards simulating the outdoor experience, some taught to the cadence of the music, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a little of both.

The music is important as well, and you’ll learn who likes what soon enough. Keep an open mind and know that while it isn’t the outdoor experience you might be used to, it will keep motivated to get back at it when the weather permits. Enjoy the ride!

Athena Thompson is a fitness instructor at Privé-Swiss Fitness, an award-winning, upscale, boutique fitness studio, located at 1587 Boston Post Road, Westbrook and 757 Boston Post Road, Madison; phone: 860-391-8735; website: www.priveswissfitness.com.

Connecticut Media Group