In Season: What Are Outdoor Riders Doing Now?

Although our indoor classes might be populated with many folks who do not ride outdoors, we should also be mindful of what our outdoor riders may be doing or are capable of during a given time of year. This will help us deliver safe, fun, and appropriate classes regardless of the season, while understanding this still has value for the non-outdoor rider. Why? In general, many people progress in their fitness and go from less conditioned to peak conditioning in sync with certain times of year. I’m sure this varies in different parts of world, but for most of the US, people are less conditioned in the fall and winter and progress toward peak conditioning into the spring and through the summer months. This progression in condition is what most outdoor cyclists experience during a given year. Riders often begin developing a base level of fitness in the winter months, increase training intensity in the spring (as they get more time outdoors), and hit peak in the summer months where they enjoy long rides, charity rides, cycling vacations, and competition. So what are cyclists doing now?

Welcome to Fall Fun


  1. With or without prevailing climate conditions, a good reason to come indoors at any time of the year (and I promote it like crazy to my Athletes-In-Training who don’t ride a real bike) is that you can do controlled stuff in a short space of time on an IDC bike or bike/trainer combo that wouldn’t be advisable or even possible for most folk outside.

    For my demographic, I try to relate *outdoor* training to what folk might want to accomplish at any time of the year. New Year Resolutionaries (first quarter) Getting Into Beach Shape (second quarter) etc. etc.

    Another thing to market is post-injury re-hab. I was able to Keep It Real this Summer as I managed to fall off my bike very early in *my* season……as in, I couldn’t quite unclip in time to save myself from falling over. However, I fell next to a retaining wall in my front garden hitting my head and breaking my helmet, sunglasses and nose. Confidence gone for another season but the bruises I had would’ve been quite convincing as a reason to spend convalescent time in MY IDC class for anyone looking to retain fitness during a healing period.

    And then there was Colorado 😉 ….

  2. Author

    This cannot be more true from the prospective of those in the high mountains where I live. Once September hits, the roads and trails are still populated with the bright jerseys of locals out riding. But as the mercury starts dropping little by little, those numbers start dwindling. Locals begin driving several hours to grasp every last bit of warmth on the weekends they can. Here, it means going out to Fruita, Colorado on the Utah border, or even further to Moab, Utah. But then snowflakes even start to fall out there, and only the real hard-core riders with booties and facemasks and full-fingered gloves are out there. I do not count myself amongst them, but I know Mr. Scotto can be seen geared up accordingly in the winter months! 😉

    Right now, daily temps have dropped to mid-60’s F (18 C), so a great temp to ride, but it’s just going to get colder. Another big factor is that it gets darker sooner, so when I can squeeze in a ride in the early evening, I have to often shorten it. As the sun starts to set, I can’t just cruise and get an endurance ride. I’m finding myself riding even harder to get that trail squeezed into that one hour before the sun sets, so often my intensity has increased on my rides!

    Then add the equation of kids back in school, and formerly very active parents who used to ride after work, may now be dividing up the after-school activities with their spouse so they can fit their outdoor workout in. Inevitably, the total volume is decreased. Solution? Come indoors! You pack your workout into one hour!

    I think this is similar for any region that has four distinct seasons. You guys in the southernmost States (or parts of the world) with only two seasons (hot and not-so-hot) might experience the weather-based modifications in riding habits a little differently. But your outdoor riders will still be faced with changes in available daylight, and for many of them, the family & school obligations that go along with end-of-summer.

    Great post Tom, as usual. Helps instructors really see what outdoor riders might be thinking and doing when their riding time is reduced.

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