Monday, January 11, 2010

Beginners Page # 12 How to Maintain Fitness Even in Winter

Winter has arrived and, speaking for myself, the weather has drastically cut into cycle time. You can hear the plaintiff rumblings of being house-bound from a lot of quarters.

Recently I was surfing on my Facebook and some of the comments found on my page: “O.K.—I don’t live in Texas fur nothing; it’s darn cold. I must remember this come those 100+ temps we ride in during bikin’ season, but 12 degrees—really!”

“You hit it right on the nose. I’m already tired of riding on my trainer. I just want to be outside!!! I would live up north if I wanted this much cold!”

To which a person from the “North” responded: “I live in Missouri and have not reached a high of 12 degrees for several days. Today finally got above 20 for a high.”

(To the above currently unnamed contributors: I read somewhere that whatever is posted on Facebook becomes public property, so if I get any grumbling, I will reveal your names!!)

So I am not alone when bemoaning being shut in when we have been spoiled by frequent rides, and the only thing (I) complained about was wind. Oh yes, and the hills, and being left behind, and falling, and cramping, and tearing up other people’s bicycles—other than that (and really a few other things) I was a happy cycler.

I know two of the above commentators have trainers so while maybe “booooring” at least they are keeping in somewhat good physical shape. What about the rest of us? I have tried the gym thing—too much work. I have tried yoga and I am like the wire rimmed tire—un-pliable. I bought a CD on Pilates. One of these days I will take the wrapper off.

So I have settled for the next best way to keep in shape. But for some to understand my logic, I must provide some background. Have you ever wondered (what else is there to do in the winter?) how a black bear can hibernate for 5-to-7 months in the winter and wake up with “fight or flight” capacity and without taking energy bars, gel, supplements, electrolyte hydration drinks, recovery drinks, or even some of Randy’s nutrition tips not to mention base miles, interval training, or hill repeats?

Scientists, who had nothing better to do during the winter months either, found that bears lose about 22% of their muscle strength while hibernating for about 120 days and humans couch-ridden for about the same time (comparable winter down time) lost 80%. So how do they do it? Instead of saying, “Uh dunno,” read on.

The scientists found that the black bear was essentially doing two things during hibernation to maintain muscle tone. Using their findings, I am in the process of developing off-season exercises for cyclists to maintain our in-season fitness level—whatever it might be. (The good news is that you can freely use my routine until I have written the book and copyrighted the material. ) Now...the scientists discovered that the black bear essentially did two things: shiver and isometric contractions.

Shiver routine: First, “allow” your wife to turn down the heat in the house. Don’t have a wife? Turn it down yourself and that is an extra bonus in muscle tone. Don’t put on extra layers of clothes—in other words don’t dress warmly—and you will obtain hours of exercise without leaving your house. As an extra benefit, try emptying the trash early in the morning. That will start your day’s exercise off to a good chilly start.

Isometric contractions: I am still developing my routine so that is why you get to use it without buying my book.

Not all people are adept at keyboarding, but I have found that I maintain my handle bar grip muscles by typing (as we used to call it). And you do not have to type brilliant things to maintain fitness, just keep those fingers moving as fast as you can.

I used to “never” watch TV except for Monk and 24. Both are off the air now so I must force myself to sit in front of the TV in the name of fitness and health. As you start to sit in the lounge chair, slowly, ever so slowly lower yourself into the chair. Feel those thigh muscles contract? You are on your way to muscle tone.

Commercial break: Slowly lean forward—good for the abs and core. With your hands on each arm rest, slowly press down and count to fifteen before raising yourself out of the chair. Feel the arm and chest muscles work? Burn baby burn. Since commercial breaks are at least every fifteen minutes; that is enough recovery time between each set of reps of one. Watch at least four hours of TV and you will get in 16 sets of exercise per evening.

All that is lacking so far is to work the leg muscles more since they do a lot of the work during our biking. So as an extra bonus, put a foot stool in between the lounge chair and the refrigerator. Step up with the left foot first as if you are climbing a staircase. Do at least 5 reps and then switch to the right foot and do 10 reps. Why? It has been found that right leg dominate people pedal mostly with their right leg so that leg needs more exercise than the slacker left.

The above have been some do-it-yourself exercises that I am in the process of perfecting. I am not in a great hurry to write my book as my only competition at this time is some other scientists. They have taken the black bear lessons and are working on applying it to bed-ridden or coma folks. But their idea is to “stimulate a kind of nerve-firing to specific muscle areas and do it in such a pattern that you keep muscles active even when a person is lying in bed…” Now if you have become sleepy reading this long dissertation, that means using some sort of electrical shock to stimulate the muscles. So which would you rather do? Watch TV under my system, or lie in bed and get shocked using the intellectual system? If you are like me, (Editor’s note: Thank goodness most people are not like him) you will choose the “Roy’s Off-Season Cyclist Kinetics System” (ROCKS) [Editor’s note: or “Roy’s All-season Total System” (RATS) or “Roy’s Off-season Total System” (ROTS).]

Let me prove the superiority of my system another way. During the Christmas break, two friends of mine took a trip to Illinois and took their bikes with them. Note: The lead picture was on their trip. To do this, you already know, you have to be…Hard Core Cyclists. And if you have your bikes with you, what is there to do except use them? No watching TV for them!!

A side note: During my attempts at winter riding I have found that I wear cool weather gear. Ty and Christine took their COLD weather gear.

Ty and Christine reported the temperature was Brrrrr degrees.
I remarked that the hill behind them must have been pretty tough going on those roads. From Ty I got a, "It was just a small hill." From Christine, no comment.

Hey you Texans, watch this!!

The nose tells it all.

The eyes tells it all. Take me back to Texas. From now on I will use Roy's ROCK system.


  1. I'm from Los Angeles, so I dont have to worry about snow or even rain getting in the way of my daily exercise routine. I use ExerciseTV all the time - I couldnt imagine a better way to exercise inside aside from actually going to the gym.
    They have some really great free online workout videos that you should check out @

  2. Looks like my rides up here in Vancouver Canada. Good for you for braving the conditions!

  3. @Emma. Thanks for the tip. I quickly get tired of the "shiver" routine. :) I have placed the website in my favorites and will explore it. I may announce the tip in our bike club website as another resource for us to use. Thanks again.

  4. @Steve. I can appreciate what you are saying. We have been to Vancouver. But,you are biking in a beautiful place. We plan on going back in June taking a cruise/wilderness tour. At one of the ports we have a bike ride lined up, and as you know, snow is still on the mountains in June. Cyclists are a unique group.

  5. looking at your photos reminds me how thankful I am for all year round tropical weather =D

  6. Wow ... it's so cool.
    I'm Indonesian, so I never feel this snow.

  7. This is Ty. It was not cold. It was just the absence of heat

  8. I just walk up some stairs outside when it's cold and my lungs start burning.

    Also, I'm not balanced enough to sit on some ice let alone ride a bike on it...

  9. cycling is a great exercise for legs but in cold weather no no one can try it indoors. great photos

  10. ♥♥ ~~ LOVE STORY~~ ♥♥ A girl asked a guy if he thought she was pretty and he said no. She asked him if he would want to be with her forever and he said no. She then asked him if she were to leave would he cry, and once again he replied with a no. She had heard enough. As she walked away, tears streaming down her face t.....................he boy grabbed her arm and said.... You're not pretty you're beautiful. I don't want to be with you forever. I NEED to be with you forever. And I wouldn't cry if you walked away...I'd die... ♥♥ ~~THE END~~ ♥♥ .......Isn't that sweet? Tonight at midnight your true love will realize they like you. Something good will happen to you at 1:00-4:00 pm tomorrow, it could be anywhere on IM or email, outside of school, anywhere! Get ready for the biggest shock of your life. If you break this chain letter you will be cursed with 10 relationship problems for the next ten years. If you post this to 15 pages in 15 minutes, you're safe.

  11. That looks so cold!

  12. Heh heh, I wish I could do that. But I doubt I'd make it out of the drive before coming back. Good blog, I must say

  13. Wow that is soooo cool. That must be great experiences for you.

  14. It was. But I will never complain about Texas weather again. It was nice to not have high winds all the time though. The salt they use on the roads is very hard on equipment. Try not to use your good stuff.

  15. Les paysages sont vraiment belles! Super!!!

  16. Wow great pics!

  17. Amazing photos. Hello from Greece. If you want check out my blog:

  18. Your pictures make me want to travel again really badly. Though, probably via airplane because the last time I went bike riding in a foreign country I got lost in Quebec....and only knew how to ask in French how to get back, not how to understand the answers and directions I received

  19. @mylifeisrandom: Fortunately it seemed almost everyone in Germany spoke English. As we arrived we were going to take a train to Garmisch, but it was a bewildering busy train station. I stopped a young lady and asked if she knew which train went to Garmisch. In perfect English, she said "Yes, I am going there. Follow me." Which we gladly did. Another time we were going to buy a ticket to an event and Christine was trying to tell the person in German what we wanted, but obviously was murdering the language. Exasperated, the ticket person said, "Why don't you speak English?"

  20. 12 degrees?
    I live on Vancouver Island in BC and we're half that temp!
    My advice...bundle up and go anyway and you'll be glad you did! It takes no time to warm up!!

    P.S. Great web site. Good info! Thanks