Spin Classes For Mountain Bikers

Winter is coming, and for cold wimps like me, it is the dreaded time of year.

I know, many of you enjoy the cold. You love the biting wind in your face and the warm mugs of apple cider after a cold nighttime ride with friends.

Perhaps this blog post would be better if I were to have a guest author come on and discuss how to dress for cold winter mountain biking.

But I don’t roll that way.

I’ll go riding a couple of times in the winter if a bunch of friends is going. I can hang with the best of them. I hate the snow; I hate the cold, I’m a whiny crying pussy about it.

But I can hang.

Just because I can hang and have the gear, doesn’t mean that I have to. When the cold starts, I head indoors.

For the longest time, I just used a bike trainer and some slick tires on the bike. It sucks. Almost as bad as riding in the winter. You stare at the concrete wall or watch some cycling reruns or early 2000’s cycling workout video on the video.

So when a friend asked me to come along with her to a Spin class, I decided I had nothing to lose. I was already stigmatized for my refusal to ride in the cold. How bad could attend a spin class be?

So can spin bike classes help mountain bikers? You get to control your workout. There is a “knob of fate,” and the more you turn it up, the more you hurt. The better a rider you will be.

Even as an amateur racer, I find these classes to be challenging. It is one hour of pure pain. Pure sweat. Pure intensity.

Sure, there are those who just hang out and spin lightly. But I try to keep up with the instructor. I don’t do “fake” knob turns. I crank that knob, and I suffer.

Does Spin Class Make A Difference In Performance?

There is a magic piece to spin class. It is called “High-Intensity Interval Training ” (HIIT).

The popular way to train is to ride for long periods of time at high intensity.

With High-Intensity Interval Training, you take your body to its maximum output repeatedly.

In my experience, it is the worst idea for exercising ever invented. There are no easy sessions. I find it hard not to dread my workouts.

HIIT workouts are proving to be the most effective way to increase performance. Not only does it boost your overall performance, but it also promotes your ability to handle peak loads.

As you know from mountain biking, it often requires repeated high-output efforts as you climb over little climbs and maneuver roots and rocks.

HIIT is also correlated with an increase in testosterone and higher power outputs, even among highly trained athletes.

In my experience, it is the secret weapon that no one else is using. It seems the other riders just don’t believe in its effectiveness. Or maybe they hate it as much as I hate riding in the snow.

The best way to train for that is to ride a mountain bike. Outside of that, I find a high-intensity training program to be the most effective way to train off the bike.

Spin class isn’t “HIIT” by name, but I find the effort and the style to be similar enough that I get an equal workout over 45 minutes.

And that leaves me with more time for drinking hot apple cider.

What To Bring On Your First Road Bike Club Ride?

We have new riders joining us almost every week.

I often get messages from new riders asking what they should bring on their first ride.

Aside from your bike and a helmet, let me run over some things you might want to grab at the bike shop before you come out.

Water

Hydration is essential. Most of us use the standard 20 or 24 ounce water bottle. A good rule of thumb is to drink one of those every 30 minutes.

Granted, on cool days and slower rides, I often drink much, much less. But then, I might also be dehydrating myself on those rides.

Keeping your electrolytes in balance starts with good hydration. And, more novice athletes end up in the hospital from dehydration than from any other cause.

It is easy to go too hard and get yourself in trouble.

We’ve never had an issue with new riders, so don’t be the first! Most of our rides last about an hour or an hour and a half so bring at least two water bottles.

Snack

As you rush out the door from work to make it to the ride in time, it is easy to skip supper.

Additionally, some people don’t do well working out on a full stomach.

Bring along a small energy bar to help fill the gap. Some riders eat on the ride if they start feeling their energy wane, while others use it for a post-ride jolt to get them to their next meal.

Most riders will burn 400-600 calories in one evening, and if you are on the edge of your daily calorie intake, this will push you over into the “bonk” zone where you have no energy to move forward.

It is understandable that you wish to lose weight, but you can’t ride a bike on no readily-available energy. Make sure that you have eaten at least enough calories to fulfill the requirements of your basal metabolic rate before you show up to ride (and even then, you should have a snack just in case.)

Flat Repair Kit

Flats happen, and we look forward to helping you change your first flat. But make sure you at least have a tube along.

Of course, you will likely ride on your own. Purchasing a tube, tire levers, and a CO2 canister to re-inflate the tube are all you need to change out the inner tube when you have a flat.

And it can mean the difference between walking back to your car.

Bike Pump

Road bikes tires are fickle. They need air at least once a week. Most of us carry pumps to top off our tires before the ride, and if you want to borrow one of ours, that is just fine. Just make sure to show up at least 10 minutes before the ride so we can get you set up.

This one is optional. But, if you are riding a lot, you should go ahead and get one as it greatly enhances your daily rides.

I hope this list makes your first ride with us better, not more intimidating.

If nothing else, remember: Helmet, Bike, Water, Snack.

Bring those four things, and you are ready for a fun evening. And remember that we have a no-drop ride so you won’t get left behind!

Bikers East Group Bike Trainer Workout

A bunch of us recently got together at Bob’s Cycles to do a bike trainer workout.

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile, but it was difficult finding a bike shop who would lend us space after hours (as well as finding one with enough room for everyone to attend).

We had some ideas on how we wanted this one to go, and, after doing one, we have some more feedback on what went well and what can be better.

1. Entertainment

It is more fun riding with friends than it is riding the trainer at home. But that doesn’t change that trainer riding is, inherently, boring.

Some shops just put a favorite workout video. Cycleops has a pretty good set of videos that go with the trainer.

However, the best is when you can find a fitness instructor to lead the class. We were able to bribe one of our friends who teaches spin class three days a week at Planet Juno to lead the workout.

2. Sweat

Sweat is the enemy, and no shop owner wants their business smelling like a gym at the end of the session. Gym mats are a must, and you need to have a plan to wipe down all of the surfaces. I think the Clorox or Lysol wipes work best for resetting the place and leaving it smelling better than it did at the start of class.

3. Set Expectations

Sometimes cyclists aren’t the most prepared. Setting expectations on what people need to bring and what will be provided are critical to the success of your first trainer class.

Do your riders need to bring a bike? Trainers? Are rollers allowed? Do they need their mats? Snacks?

This becomes more important when you are holding class at a bike shop. Cyclists have a bad habit of thinking they can buy everything last minute, or they’ll try to slip their bike into the shop for a last minute tweak.

Many shops don’t mind this, but you need to know if the mechanics are still going to be there and if the register will be open. Communicate that in advance with your riders.

4. Get Free Swag Through Partnerships

The winter time is the best for synergizing. Most shops and organizations are slower in the winter and love having new angles for promoting their wares.

If you can get introductions to local sales reps, you might be able to work with them to get free gear, free snacks, and free power drinks.

It creates a VIP experience when everyone is getting special towels and bottles and newly released snacks to try.

Independent gyms are another excellent avenue for getting space or getting things like a gift card.

5. Gather Around The Tube

This is an old idea, but watch parties work well for group trainer classes. Maybe everyone wants to watch the Alp De huez on the Troudefrance. Or maybe you can combine your training session by watching a live Track race.

It’s an idea as old as the television, but can be a lot of fun. .

6. Costume it up

Add a twist. Everyone wears a costume. Or they get their friends to donate 10 cents per mile ridden. Or everyone brings cookies.

Find a way to add your twist.

It’s these little things that will make your ride unique and increase club engagement.