Pre-season training for cycling isn’t all about cycle training in winter, instead start by mixing things up with some off-the-bike workouts or a training camp to avoid boredom and burnout once peak season arrives.

Have you heard? It’s not always about the bike.

To go fast, sometimes you have to go slow at first. Pre-season training for cycling isn’t all about cycle training in winter, which can often lead to boredom or burnout at season’s peak. Instead start by mixing things up with some off-the-bike workouts or a far-flung winter cycling training camp in a warm climate. Get creative with your surroundings and strategize first for fun, then performance. That order may change once you get closer to the cycling season so seize the pre-season and take wholesale advantage its freestyle attitude toward training.

What is “pre-season”?

It’s that ambiguous period of time between wanting to chuck your bike after the final event of the season and that moment when you start thinking about how next season will go so much better if you make a few changes. Pre-season depends on when you decide to start your season in earnest, which can vary between cycling disciplines and even which hemisphere you live in. Summer in the southern hemisphere occurs opposite to when it is in the northern hemisphere, so unless you’re an international bike racer or triathlete, your cycling season will probably be inline with summertime where you are.

When does it start?

In theory a cyclist is in pre-season up until the first event of the year; anything after that would be “in-season”. Perhaps owing to cycling’s many variables, pinning down a definition plus a timeline of pre-season has so far proven elusive.

I’m officially in pre-season, now what?

One way to boldly launch your pre-season is to book some warm weather riding by heading off to a training camp. Mallorca and the Costa Blanca region of Spain are both popular winter cycling destinations and many outfits that offer cycling holidays focused on training have literally set up camp for riders to come down out of the cold.

Step away from your bike!

You’ll get plenty of time in the saddle once the season is underway so take the time now to do something other than ride your bike. Skiing, hiking, dancing, strength training, yoga, Pilates etc. are all popular options to complement riding your bike. The Insight Zone on British Cycling’s website is loaded with free training resources, including an 8-week pre-season training plan and related winter cycling training tips.

Try another form of cycling

If you usually ride on the road, why not hit the trails for a change? If braving the elements has lost its thrill (or if you want to take the guesswork out of navigating), try track cycling. British Cycling lists accredited velodromes on its website along with indoor cycling training programs that can be done on the track. Among other benefits of track riding, only left turns are allowed and best of all, most velodromes are covered so there’s no need to put on gloves, booties, or rain jacket!

Pre-season training is like a honeymoon before the real work starts so take advantage of this time to indulge in what you love about riding a bike. Make your pre-season training fun with a purpose and use the pre-season as an excuse to get back in shape without working too hard.