Fixed Gear Crit

What to do in the off-season? We asked the pros

Red Hook Crit Milano marked the end of crit season for many fixed gear racers around the world. While some athletes are now consumed with racing cyclocross, and a few others may be chasing warmer temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere, most are faced with the realities of off-season.

Off-season is a crucial time for physical and mental recovery for an athlete, but studies have also found that it common for many athletes to struggle with post-season blues and asking themselves “now what?” The daily training regimen is over, the time for pursuing goals has passed, the mental preparation is complete, and the excited anticipation of travelling and seeing friends must now wait until next year. What many athletes may not consciously recognize is that the preparation that goes into racing is often the most rewarding and enjoyable part, and even physiologically the body has become accustomed to the endorphin-induced high of consistent training.

We spoke with some of the 2017 Red Hook Crit top contenders for their pro-tips on staying motivated in the off-season, fighting the post-season slump, and enjoying the downtime (and even maybe even a beer or two).
Text: Sarah Bartlett
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Stefan Schafer, Specialized / Rocket Espresso
“Every year I take four weeks off of the bike. I do nothing on the bike and get my excitement back for cycling because the season is usually pretty long. The body is tired but the head is tired as well, so for me, it’s important to get fit and prepared again. After the four weeks, I start a bit of training again, not too hard. If the weather is bad, I stay at home, because there is no hurry. I take it easy in the winter. I also take time for my family because during the season they all need to step back for the sport, so now it’s their turn to get my time. I enjoy this time because it’s so precious.”

Photo by Gophrette Power

Raphaele Lemieux, iBike
“Go outside and do other sports! It’s really important for me to play outside. I like to go alpine skiing and cross-country skiing. In November, I will be on the hill all the time during the weekends. After a crazy bike season, I enjoy to take a big one month off of no training at all, and I really enjoy my free time being outside and seeing my family. I am happy to do something else other than just biking.”

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David Santos, Aventon Factory Team
“I love all avenues of cycling, so for me, the fall and winter are when I put on the knobby tires and go ride trails. I do structure-less rides with as many friends as possible. Just be on the bike purely for fun and get muddy! The off-season is more of a social time, just 100% pure fun. After a bit of time, I come back refreshed and ready to start training and setting next year’s goals. Some people start super early, but then come May or June they are done. For the Red Hook season, we go through October, which is a long time. It’s good to not get too anxious and go too hard, so you aren’t burnt out too early.”

Picture by Chris Leustean

Keira McVitty, Revo Racing
“I like to give myself something else to focus on other than cycling and catch up on the stuff I miss out on in the summer. I’ll go rock climbing, go running or swimming. I also like to evaluate the year and plan out what I will do next year. One of my main hobbies outside of cycling is making videos, and I put a lot of time and energy into that. This year I struggled with anaemia, so I have found that making videos has helped me to talk about cycling without necessarily cycling all the time. Essentially, get a change of scene or a different hobby to give your brain a rest.”

Photo by Paul Williams AKA Gingerbeard

Colin Strickland, Intelligentsia Racing
“I start off-season by having a period of not riding my normal race bikes at all for a few weeks or longer. I like to focus on types of cycling I typically don’t have time for. I am riding mountain bikes quite a bit right now – riding trails, and riding away from cars, and focusing on different skill sets. I also take care of the other parts of life that kind of get neglected with cycling all the time. For me, that’s remodelling my mom’s house and working on my house. It’s my time to manage the other parts of life that are fulfilling.”

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Lisa Worner,
“When you train regularly after the season, you feel so much better, but you have to push yourself a bit to workout to raise your heart rate. That’s the struggle though because you aren’t training for something, but you have to find a way for you to raise your heart rate a bit but also have fun with it. Go running, or mountain biking – find something else that is exciting for you! It’s important to be excited that you don’t have goals at the moment. You can party and you have time for yourself and your friends. You have to enjoy the time off to be ready for the next season.”

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David van Eerd, 8Bar Team
“I take two or three weeks off and party as much as I can since I don’t really party during the season. Then I feel done with that and I start doing some riding but not really much-structured riding. I don’t take off too long because my fitness goes down fast. When I was doing more road racing, I would try and do one or two stage races in other countries, but now I don’t have time for stage races anymore, so I am planning a bike packing trip to have a week with some friends. Not training, but riding. Seek some adventure to get through the winter! Especially after the final Red Hook, it’s easy to get restless, so do different sports, catch up on going out and plan a trip!”