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”.
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!
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.
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.
Posted on February 9, 2016, in Behind the Visor and tagged fitness, health, motorcycle, Newfoundland, off-season, parked motorcycle syndrome, winter, winter activities, winter fun, winteraction, yoga. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.