It feels like the time I have truly off or to really rest shrinks every year. For the peloton, the race season has now stretched from early season races in January and February all the way to October, and all of these races seem to get more competitive every year.
I consider the time between my final race and first winter training camp as my true “offseason.” It’s my chance to consistently be home and take the time needed to properly prepare for the upcoming season. In general, it’s more relaxed and flexible, and I prioritize rest, recovery and recharging.
Once I feel my body has recovered, it’s time to add in the fun parts. For me, this means going out mountain biking, hiking and exploring new roads without the burden of hitting the “set button” for an interval. I also try to get in some moderate core and strength work to help round out my routine and rebuild some of the weaker links in my body that were neglected during the long race season.
If I had my way, I’d ride my mountain bike a couple of days per week all year. In the earlier part of the offseason, I do almost all my riding on the mountain bike, and then as the early season approaches, I’ll shift to more road bike. I still try to get 1 or 2 days per week on the mtb as we head into our first team training camp. Once I get into the meat of the season, every day really counts and sometimes there just isn’t space in the week for a mountain bike ride, but I always try to fit one in, even an easy one whenever I get the chance.
Adventuring with Jamie
Definitely one of the best parts of the offseason is having the chance to enjoy some rides with Jamie. We’ve been through a lot of adventures together on the bike, and we try to add to this collection of memories and experiences every year. We do some relaxed exploration rides on mountain bikes, which are all about fun.
As I start getting back into serious training, we still ride together, but she’ll slide into my draft for a few minutes and then we will get back to enjoying the ride in between those efforts. She may not be racing full-time anymore, but she’s always fit and has an impressive amount of mental toughness, so we can do some really solid rides together.
Other activities we enjoy in the offseason are hiking and some backpacking/camping. She usually puts the hurt on me during these outings, but the main idea here is to slow things down, get into the forest and quiet everything down for a few days. It is the perfect way to reset and recharge while staying active and using some muscles that were forgotten during the pedaling season.
Juggling Time Between Asheville and Girona
The shift from Asheville to Girona is always a bittersweet one. We are super fortunate to call these two amazing places home, so there is always a feeling of “sad to leave, excited to go” whenever we make the switch. The transition shifts a little each year based on my race program and Jamie’s schedule, and this year we will spend the majority of the winter and offseason in Girona.
I miss Asheville when we are in Spain. I really miss the people and community, which is one of the main reasons why Asheville feels so much like home. I long for a day out in Pisgah National Forest, which is one of my favorite places in the world. The dense, deciduous forest, rolling Smokey Mountains, the constant sound of rushing water and thick, rich organic smells are feelings and visuals that I use to anchor and motivate myself through the nitty gritty parts of the European season. I always look forward to returning.
Offseason Food and Treats
While there is nothing “moderate” about pro cycling, I like the idea of “everything in moderation” and this applies both to the offseason and during the season. The offseason just allows for a slightly greater amount of flexibility.
During the early offseason, I don’t really count calories or strategize my nutrients. Instead, I focus on staying healthy as my body and mind are recovering. You should know though---I’m never the type of guy who totally swears off any one item during the race season.
In the down months, where I let myself indulge a bit more is with a few good beers. Asheville has become a craft beer mecca, and there are numerous amazing small and large breweries that pump out some impressive creations. Another offseason favorite is increased flexibility with mid-ride cafe stops where I might cave to that muffin or brownie that always is calling my name from the sweets case.
The Holiday Season
The holiday swing changes a little each year. Spending time with family is always a priority and Jamie and I rotate trips to see our parents, who are slightly spread out around the country. It’s always a tricky balance between enjoying myself and maintaining some focus for the quickly approaching season. We don’t have any super strong traditions, but I always try to get out for a big ride, ideally with a group, on either my mtb or road bike on New Year’s Day—I can’t image a better way to start the new year than with a fun group on the bike. Also, having a big ride planned keeps New Year’s Eve a little tamer…
Heading Back into the Season
I typically go 1 to 2 months without stepping on the scale. Once I’m back on the bike and really training, I begin to monitor my weight and pay attention to what I’m eating (calories in vs. the energy spent during a ride). It’s important to lose any extra offseason pounds steadily, which is makes it healthier and easier to stay that way.
Some offseasons, my weigh fluctuates more than others, but after a few weeks of training and paying more attention to my diet, it evens out and I reach an acceptable point to start the real season. I aim to show up at the first team camp fit and ready, but not razored down to peak race weight.