Becoming a Better Rider…During Winter

At the time of writing this, a blizzard has shuttered most businesses in St. John’s (yay snow day!) and the fierce north easterly wind is making my old house creak. Winter in Newfoundland stirs primeval urges to curl up by a heat source and eat copious amounts of carbohydrates in an effort to produce an insulating fat layer to keep warm. A few centuries of living on the edge of survival in an incredibly harsh climate tends to warp DNA a little, I figure.

If you live in a place where you can ride your motorcycle all year around, you don’t understand the psychology of the “off-season”. Some people call it “PMS” – Parked Motorcycle Syndrome – characterized by irritability, gloomy attitude, looking longingly out the window, and pervasive thoughts of relocation to warmer climes.

But the off-season doesn’t HAVE to be a bad thing. In sports, the off-season is a time to rest and repair, cross-train and work on deficiencies and weaknesses so that you can be better than last year. Some of you might think it odd that I look at riding in the same light as athletic pursuits, but there are more similarities than differences. Riding a motorcycle exacts a physical and mental toll, and if you’re a good rider you’re always trying to figure out ways to be better. Why not use the winter to prepare for riding season?

I read an interesting article from Cycle World the other day, and a statistic has stuck with me. Losing seven pounds is equivalent to gaining one horsepower. If that isn’t enough incentive to keep/stay fit over winter, being able to fit into your expensive riding gear come spring definitely is.

So keep moving over the winter! Outdoor activities like skating, snowshoeing and skiing burn lots of calories and improve balance and coordination – which I’m sure you know are kind of important. The natural sunlight and fresh air will even help with some of the symptoms of “PMS”.

pippy

Cross-country skiing in beautiful Pippy Park, right in the middle of St. John’s.

 

For an even better workout for the stabilizing muscles in your core, challenge yourself to a beginner yoga class. I truly believe that yoga and motorcycling go hand in hand. The strength, flexibility and mental focus that come with a yoga practise cross over beautifully into the realm of riding. I have to include a plug for my fabulous neighbourhood yoga studio Nova Yoga, but there are many more in the city. Step out of your comfort zone and onto the mat!

yogabiker

Why not?

 

Winter is also a good time to catch up on reading. There are literally hundreds of great motorcycle blogs out there, with some really useful information. One of my favourites is Riding in the Zone. Many of their posts are related to safety and riding skills, with titles like “Truths About Electronic Stability Control” and “How to Survive Mid-Corner Hazards”.

The dark, cold evenings this time of year also provide plenty of opportunities to break out the map and research routes, destinations, and (of course) the best places to eat. I love using Google Street View to find picturesque, out of the way places down dead-end roads that I would never have thought to travel.

gratescove

Beautiful Grates Cove, on the tip of the North West Avalon

 

Winter is a fact of life in this part of the world. It arrives every single year, but we still complain indignantly as if the four-plus months of ice and snow were unexpected. Change your perspective, motorcyclists. Embrace it, enjoy it, use the time off the bike to get better and plan for spring.

 

*Disclaimer: The author takes no responsibility for personal injury incurred as a result of following advice in this article. Fitness and exercise regimes should only be undertaken after consultation with a physician.

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Posted on February 9, 2016, in Behind the Visor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Krista, this is a very thoughtful and well written article, complete with pictures that make the point even clearer. Loved the one of the yoga mat rolled up on the back of the bike!. I think you are spot on about yoga-wish I had the core strength I observe in my yoga loving hiking buddy. Anyone who sees winter from your perspective will be smiling all year long!

  2. I agree winter is a good time get in shape for riding season. Good blog post! I’m a little luckier living out on the West Coast, where our winter is more rainy than snowy, but this year I parked my bike for the West Coast monsoon season. Last winter I was almost rearended coming home in torrential rain and fog, so even riding out in lotus land can have its drawback and suffer PMS. i’ve been doing planks and increasing my walking and stair climbing. Aquafit is on my radar, still considering yoga.

  3. Definitely take a beginner yoga class, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try! I do aqua jogging as well, it’s a really nice way to cross-train because it’s absolutely no impact. Great for those days when the weather is absolutely too miserable to do much outdoors.

  4. Great article and v inspiring! Here in the UK, we don’t have the snowy winters that you have in Newfoundland, but it’s still true that heading out into a downpour can be unappealing. So, I’m going to take the chance to exercise this winter. Checking out the pool and gym timetable now!!

  5. I just bought six yoga DVD’s to try out! I’ve been doing BOSU training and the improvements I have seen in balance and core strength are phenomenal. I’m looking forward to Yoga!

    • Balance and strength are soooo important to motorcyclists, I’m surprised there aren’t yoga classes marketed specifically to bikers, LOL! Glad to hear your hard work is paying off, you will love yoga!

  6. Great advice and I second your yoga recommendation!

  7. Totally agree with you dude. Your perspective on winter riding should be spread out. Here from where I live the winter is harsh, but when it starts to melt even just a bit, I can’t resist a ride. Love your ending part “Change your perspective, motorcyclists. Embrace it, enjoy it, use the time off the bike to get better and plan for spring”

  8. I take an ‘experienced riders course’ every spring. Great way to get back into riding. This year our plans are to take some off road courses as well. Cant hurt and sounds fun! Keep up the great writing!

    • I’d love to take an off-road course…unfortunately there aren’t any offered in Newfoundland. Riding offroad definitely makes you a better street rider. Thanks for your words of encouragement…I’ve lapsed in writing lately because I’ve been so tied up with a major technical report that I can’t bear to sit in front of the computer in my spare time! I plan to concentrate more on blogging over the course of the winter.

      • happens to me as well. I get sections of time where I do a very good job of keeping my youtube and wordpress sites current. And then for whatever reason I get busy with other things and I fall short. Keep up the great work!

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