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Cycling Thu Dec 09 2010

The Off Season

As the final rider of the Cat. 4B ChiCrossCup race at Montrose Harbor crossed the line last Sunday to whoops, cheers, and heckles, the 2010 Chicago competitive cycling season drew to a close (well, besides this), racers' thoughts turned toward how to improve for 2011. Of course, not without first taking some well-deserved time off from the bike in favor of spending time with long-ignored friends, lovers, and pizzas. Mike Sherer of the brutalizing Pony Shop squad was crowned the 1/2/3 king; teammate Jessica Hill was the Women's champ.

Due to the wide variety of different permutations of cycling, the off season can be longer or shorter for all manner of folks. The road racers have better start in with the serious training shortly, but the track stars can bum around for a month or two more. Bike polo players...what do you do?

As noted in a recent post, riding in winter is something of a science. What makes the winter training, especially the indoor kind, go down a bit smoother is dealing with the drudgery with some other soul. Pedaling With a Purpose, run by local racer Kristen Meshberg, is an excellent, low-key way to train with other cyclists. Unlike many spin classes, where the instructors are often not cyclists and who encourage sometimes-questionable pedaling maneuvers, Meshberg's class is designed for competitive cyclists using specific drills and exercises.

Also, another alternative is the indoor Computrainer classes organized by some bike shops within the city. A Computrainer is a computer controlled "turbo" that attaches the rear wheel of a bike and accurately simulates outdoor riding with hills and wind. Element Multisport (2754 N. Clybourn) offers Computrainer classes throughout the week and if triathlons are a focus, the shop offers assistance in that discipline, too.

Besides yoga, XC skiing, running, weightlifting, and other off season diversions, one of the more beneficial training techniques is to just ride with other people. No cycling friends? Make some. The biggest Chicago-area game is Judson -- near anarchy on wheels, but some of the best training around.

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