As the northern hemisphere enters another winter, more and more athletes are hanging up their bikes and saying goodbye to not only their bikes, but also their hard earned fitness until spring, BUT with the right preparations this does not (and should not!) need to be you.

Purchase a trainer/rollers

This should be obvious to most, but I have spoken to some people who don’t know these wonderful inventions exist!  A trainer/rollers can be bought at your local bike shop and will allow you to ride your bike indoors when the weather turns ugly.  Some professional athletes ride their trainers year round because it takes all the environmental factors (stoplights, hills, cars, etc.) out of the equation and allows for the most predictable and repeatable way to train.  You wouldn’t catch me dead on my trainer on a beautiful summer day, but hey, to each his own, right?

Get structured

There should be little to no “junk” miles in your routine, but especially when riding indoors.  The trainer can become a huge drain mentally if you spend too much time on it or do not have a plan of attack for each workout.  I personally try to keep my athletes from exceeding 2 hours for any trainer ride and ensure there is plenty of structured intervals to break up the monotony and prevent burnout.  The trainer isn’t called “the drainer” by some people for nothing.

Distract yourself

Sometimes you NEED to spend 2.5-3 hours riding the trainer to get the appropriate training stimulus.  When these workouts come up the chute, make sure you have plenty of good movies, loud music, or an indoor group ride to pass the time.  I personally LOVE Zwift and feel like they have done a great job with their user interface and have lots of sneaky ways to keep you focused and on the bike longer.  There are many other options out there like TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest, or if you are local to the North Shore of Massachusetts come check out a P2 class!  (Shameless plug, I know)

Stay motivated

Repeat after me: “spring will come again”  Don’t get caught up in the late fall/winter doldrums and lose your drive.  Remember why you started to ride a bike in the first place, focus on how good you feel when you are done with a workout, be proud of yourself for keeping the Holiday weight off this year, and if you are a competitive athlete, think of how hard your competition is working this winter.  Do you want them to beat you again next season?

Stay consistent

This is always true to get the most out of your training, but especially when your overall time in the saddle decreases.  In the spring/summer you can get away with missing a day or two here and there because the group ride is 2-3 hours and will give you enough training stimulus to not lose fitness, or you don’t mind commuting to work a few days a week in the nice weather.  However, miss a few days here and there in the winter and you definitely run the risk of losing fitness quick.  It is always better to ride for less time 4-6 times a week then to ride longer 2-3 times a week!

For more information on GC Coaching and how we can help you increase your fitness using power, please visit


About the Author Shayne Gaffney

Shayne holds a bachelors degree in Health Science in Professional Development and Advanced Patient Care, is a USA Cycling Level 1 (expert level) Certified Coach, a level 2 certified Training Peaks coach, a USA Cycling certified power based training coach, USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport Certified, and a licensed physical therapist assistant. He is also the creator of Zwift's "Build Me Up" Flexible Training Plan. He can be contacted directly via for any cycling or training related questions.

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