Here is a sentence you hear very often:
We are very lucky to live in Southland during the winter.
This statement can however, be backed up by a number of facts:
1) Unlike parts of Europe in the winter, we don’t often get weather that is so bad/snowy that it is impossible to train outside;
2) We have fantastic, sheltered MTB tracks at Sandy Point that ride well, even in the wet and cold;
3) We have an indoor Velodrome – at this point in time, the only one in NZ;
4) We have an excellent MTB Winter Race Programme and a fantastic Winter Road Race programme;
5) We have fabulous gym facilities and spin classes at the World Gym;
6) The cold and wind hardens us up – no matter where you go in the world, not every race day is sunny and given their vast experience, most Southlander’s relish the crap conditions. To be able to race in all conditions and not be phased by a bit of wind and cold is a definite advantage.
Winter, in most places in the world, is a time for base training and cross training. No matter what your speciality, almost all riders overlap with one of the other codes for a bit of cross training during the cold months – as much for the mental benefits as the physical ones. While BMX has a break over winter, many BMXers keep their strength & fitness up on the Velodrome. You will see many road, track and BMX riders playing around on a MTB and no matter what your code, road racing is great for speed work and base fitness.
Winter is also a great time to do some base strength work and, most importantly, core work, in the gym. If this isn’t something you already do, then it is definitely something you should look into – AT ANY AGE. Strengthening your core will provide you with immediate improvements in your ability to put all the power you are generating into your legs, rather than losing it through your weak core and upper body.
Gone is the theory that kids shouldn’t be in the gym – these days, there are groups of kids, not lifting weights, but learning technique, doing body weight exercises, and doing plenty of “pre-hab” – balancing and strengthening their bodies to prevent injuries as they grow at a great rate of knots, while they are flat out doing sport at an equally great rate of knots. If you are interested, have a chat to Sid and the crew at the World Gym.
The Velodrome is open for business during winter and there are weekly sessions which cater for all ages and abilities – including beginner kids sessions (for 10 years and older) and beginner adult sessions. The Cycling Southland website (www.cyclingsouth.org.nz) has a list of all the sessions available.
Winter is also a time to embrace the indoor trainer. Love them or hate them, they are excellent tools for building strength, and if you don’t have your own, Cycling Southland has three “BT” Ergs, which club members can hire for use at the Velodrome. There are many torturous sessions which will help pass the winter hours, and setting up your trainer with the stereo pumping upbeat tunes, or in front of the telly watching the Tour de France, is a fabulous way to escape the cold and, you never know – you might get a solid 90mins of training in without even realising.
Finally, we are very lucky to have strong clubs across the board in Southland (if we do say so ourselves), with great MTB and Road Race programmes over winter, which cater for all abilities.
Check out the Southland Mountain-bike Club Website for a list of events: http://www.southlandmtbclub.co.nz/
For the Road Racing Calendar, check out the Cycling Southland website: http://www.cyclingsouth.org.nz/index.php?pageLoad=214
And of course, there are also those who are honing their speed over winter, before heading to BMX Worlds in July in Auckland. With the club in full steam over summer, BMX is a brilliant way to get your kids started on their cycling journey. Check out Southland BMX Club’s website here: http://www.southlandbmxclub.co.nz/
All up, although our daylight hours are limited in the winter (they make incredibly strong bike lights these days by the way, perfect for night riding), and it is cold, often wet, and some would say downright miserable, there are plenty of opportunities to embrace the events and training offered by other codes.
As they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!