From the Rock Creek Sports Club
Winter Tips for Bike Commuters and Future Commuters
Bo Murphy, a member of RCSC and an outdoor cyclist, spins to stay in shape
Winter months can be brutal for those who crave the outdoors and who are not fond of freezing temperatures and slippery road conditions. Even the bravest and most avid cyclists will park their bikes until the spring thaw.
But Brian "Tiny" Washington, a cycling coach at Rock Creek Sports Club (RCSC) in Silver Spring, urges cyclists and others to keep moving during the winter months to stay healthy and ready to return to two-wheel commuting when temperatures rise again.
Traffic congestion, climate change and taking better care of your health are all good reasons to commute by bicycle as much as possible. By local jurisdiction, Washington, D.C. holds the best record for daily short-trip bicycle commuting with 49 percent of D.C. residents using two wheels instead of four each day. Montgomery's share is 17 percent.
A significant number of RCSC members commute to the facility regularly by bike. The club management responded to the growing number of neighborhood cyclists by installing a bike rack next to the door. A bonus for the club is its prime location on Grubb Road in a small shopping center near both multi-family and single-family detached homes. Snowmageddon of 2010 had little impact on business at the shopping center where RCSC is located. Clerks at the Silver Spring-Takoma Park Food Coop located there reported closing only one day during the back-to-back record snowstorms in the D.C. area. The reason: A number of employees of the shopping center could walk in from the surrounding neighborhood and customers did the same.
Stay warm and safe above all else. If you want to switch to two wheels indoors instead of braving the cold, here's how to stay fit for commuting to work by bike again in the spring:
- Winter months are a great time to focus on weight-bearing exercises, push-ups and exercises to build core body strength, says Washington of RCSC. "A lot of people don't want to spend time doing this during prime outdoor cycling months," the instructor said. "So hunker down with weights at the gym during the cold months and get your legs as strong as possible."
- If you can afford the expense, find a good instructor or fitness coach who is an avid outdoor cyclist and understands the physical benefits of cycling.
- Try "spinning" during the winter on your own, or enroll in spinning classes. "Challenge yourself when you spin," says Washington. "Build resistance, keep a steady pace and then increase your resistance over time. Make sure you hill-climb and try to duplicate outdoor cycling when you spin."
- Work out with weights, weight-bearing exercises and spinning every other day during the winter. Then when spring and summer return, switch back to your outdoor bike and go to the gym one or twice a week.
Washington is a former board member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). He believes in bike commuting so much that he teaches urban cycling classes and courses on safe riding with traffic to encourage others to become regular bike commuters.
In addition to working out the gym this winter, you can join others for an upcoming bike event to ask legislators to make Maryland communities safer for bike commuters:
For information on Montgomery County's revised policy on accepting used bike tires for recycling, click here.
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