Off Season Practices from Seven Road Racers
By Lori Nedescu, MS RD CSSD @cadencekitchen
Drop the bike and hit the beach (or couch), it’s the OFF SEASON!
For road cyclists, the off season is a period of time between the end of racing and the start of a disciplined training schedule for the next year. It is supposed to be a time of rest, recovery, relaxation to let the body and mind take a break before the toll of daily workouts, proper nutrition and performance anxiety kicks into full speed. Some love and cherish this time while others hold it in disdain.
Here’s how several serious women road cyclists spend their off season.
Julie Kuliecza (@JulieKuliecza)
Pro Cyclist for Hagens Berman | Supermint
This is the first year that I have taken off from cross. I am really enjoying just riding my road bike for fun and taking a relaxing outlook on the off season. Taking an off season allows me to go on trips, spend time with my family and pet my dogs. I usually blow off nutrition for the first couple of weeks of my off season because you need a break from that also! I have already started back in to focused healthy eating because in addition to being necessary it also makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER! I will also hit the gym to build a strong core to deal with the demands of the upcoming season.
Nicole Pressprich (@Nicholepressprich)
Cat 1 Cyclist for Point S Nokian
I like to take a complete rest from any physical activity for at least a week. After a long year of racing and travel, my body and mind need to be sedentary, I usually start itching to do something and I’ll start with a 20 min run after a week and the soreness that comes with that usually makes me rest for a few more days of no activity.
After a week of nothing I love to go hiking, the more challenging the better. The off-season is a great time to start the weight bearing exercises again so hiking is a nice transition into that. After 3 weeks completely off the bike I’ll start lifting again and resume riding unstructured. I’ll do that for about 2 more months and then start focusing on road specific training. If I don’t feel like riding I won’t, I’ll go for a swim, or cook more as the fall time is my favorite time to do these things. I don’t race cross and love to explore this time of year on my bike. Come winter time, I love to downhill and Nordic ski as well.
Stefanie Sydlik @Stefsydlik
Cat 1 Cyclist for SWISSE Femme Équipe
As a professor, the end of road season and off season means back to school! I am one of the lucky ones who gets to sharpen my pencils and break out my backpack every fall. Even better, as a teacher I don't even have to take exams any more! This year, in addition to filling my time by teaching organic chemistry to the sophomores, I decided to try something novel and new... rest!
This past season was very stressful for me on many fronts, so I'm taking extra time to sleep and recover. I haven't touched my bike or worked out since my last race, over 2 weeks ago! Mostly, I've been filling my time with organic chemistry and cooking, which is one of my favorite things to do. This week I'm adding in a few light yoga sessions, and then this weekend I'll take up riding for fun again.
For me, fun will include some gravel and trail rides, piloting a tandem bike, and just generally mixing it up before I start training in earnest for next road season. I'm also planning to do some rowing. My husband and I are signed up to race the Head of the Charles, the largest long course regatta in the world, in a mixed boat. We got 3rd last year, so this year will be on the hunt for gold! After that I'm excited to reunite with my teammates for some fun Gran Fondo style races as we begin to build together for next season.
Caro Poole @Caro_Piscine
Cat 2 Cyclist for Leborne Women's Racing fueled by The Fold & Raduno.
Early off season I race a little bit of cross to keep training and racing exciting for me and to prevent "burnout vibes". Once base training starts, I rest a lot (always with snacks), drink lots of green tea, and run a lot of epsom salt foot baths to keep my immune system in check. Also, for some reason I'm very diligent about stretching in the off season!
Swapping the slicks for knobbies as much as possible.
Rallying the troops for big, dumb rides à la Sklontz Epics (Seriously, find yourself the friends who can curate routes that dreams are made of).
Partying in the woods the way only flat bars know how.
Soaking in the lush beauty of The Pisgah.
Exploring Western North Carolina sans bike by way of brews and food.
PUZZLING! (non bike hobbies)
Eating all the cookies from my @ORNOT handle bar snack bag while tooling around.
Off season is the time to shift gears, unwind, reset and refocus. You can catch me shoving the Garmin in the pocket for a pseudo “no Garmin, no rules.” Why? Because that tiny torture device that typically yammers away intervals and power targets has only one job in the off season - track all those joy rides to make your friends jealous. #nopowerallparty
Isabella Bertold @Isabella_Bertold
Cat 2 cyclist for Trek Red Truck Racing
I spend extra time doing things I don’t get to do while caught up in the race season, such as riding to food destinations like local farms, cross country skiing, and spending extra time on the water sailing (she’s a world cup medalist in sailing, just FYI…).
Lori Nedescu @CadenceKitchen
Cat 1 cyclist for SWISSE Femme Équipe
During this off season, I’ve focused on rest, fun, wellness and variety. For rest, I’ve taken the ‘do whatever feels good’ approach which means I’ll ride to ride, no caring about pace, time, duration or power (unless I’m segment chasing, which gets filed under pure FUN). Race seasons can lack fun, so the off season is a good time to cram it in. For me, fun is running and I’m competing in two marathons this fall.
During the off-season I have more time for self care. So I stretch, massage, indulge in foods I restrict while really training and experiment with different nutrition practices, like pre workout meals and vitamins/supplements. I’ve started taking SWISSE Wellness’s CO-Q10 (bc its almost impossible to get enough from whole food) for mitochondrial support and Klean Athlete’s Beta Alanine for help boosting my explosive power.
Variety is the hard part and I’ve been very adamant about pushing out of my comfort zone by racing difficult cyclocross courses, riding gravel, and doing more strength training. See my full off season blog HERE.