Secret Training: Spin for Cyclocross

Why this "girly" workout is perfect for cyclocross women—and men—alike

When one of our writers, Ella, isn't making magic happen with her words you can almost always count on finding her on her bike. GranFondos, spin class, road biking—if it involves two wheels, Ella's there. We caught up with her to learn a bit more about her cycling habits and more specifically, why she loves hitting the studio to cross-train for cyclocross. 

By Ella—My main sport is cyclocross. I happen to think that ‘cross is the soggiest, silliest, smelliest (and some would say toughest) form of bike racing that exists. It involves sprinting around a circular obstacle course in the mud and rain, keeping your speed up while dismounting from your bike to jump over logs and run up hills with the bike thrown over your shoulder (and trying not to throw up). Basically, super fun. My teammates (the fellows especially) pride themselves on their toughness and have a great time poking fun at each other when someone does something deemed un-tough.

Tough Guys Have Secrets Too
One of the things deemed un-tough? Spinning (obviously they’ve never tried it before because it ain’t no cake walk). The first time I ran into a teammate at spin class, he darted his eyes to make sure I was alone, then sidled up to me and whispered, “Please don’t tell anyone you saw me here. I’m, uh, secret training.”

Why the secrecy? Aside from the fact that these tough guys didn’t want it to be known that they enjoyed Top 40’s, spinning as cross-training for bike racing makes you fit. And fitness makes you fast. “Fast Patty” wanted to get secretly fitter during our off-season so his competitors wouldn’t know he was putting in a little extra-extra. He was going to take his competitors by surprise and win some races during the upcoming season.

Two reasons why I loves spinning for cyclocross:

1. Target Zone Training
If you already use a heart-rate monitor and do zone training, you know that having control over your heart rate for an hour allows you to maximize your workout. As opposed to a “regular” ride of 2-4 hours where your heart rate is all over the board, during spin class it’s possible to target specific zones and stay there, allowing you to get more out of one hour on a spin bike than during an hour outdoors on a road bike (plus, the music is great).

2. Convenience Equals Consistency
Another benefit of spin class as cross-training is that you can ride more than you might normally during the winter. Waking up at 5am to get in a solid 2-hour ride (in the dark, cold, rain) before work can be a challenge in itself. Hitting up a spin class at a studio after work with colleagues requires much less motivation. Convenience equals consistency and consistency in training means a kickass you.

Oh and for the record, Fast Patty, the friend I saw at spin class? He killed it that race season.

This story originally appeared on the lululemon blog.

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