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How Does Snowshoeing Help Cycling?

By Fred Matheny

Road bike rider logoQ: Snowshoeing has become the hot crosstraining sport among the local cyclists in my area, but I don’t see the connection to riding a bike. What’s the carryover to cycling? — Tammi W.

Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I love snowshoeing! Unlike cross-country skiing, it has a shallow learning curve. You don’t need much technique to get an effective workout. Snow conditions can be marginal, and you can do it in all types of terrain — even through the woods. Don’t try that on skis unless you’re skilled.

I snowshoe a lot where I live in westernColorado. I think it has at least five direct benefits for cyclists.

  • Endurance. Treks of three or four hours train the body to burn fat for energy while sparing its muscle fuel, glycogen
  • Weight control. When you snowshoe with poles, long hikes burn calories at an even greater rate than long rides. You’re using upper-body muscle mass much more than when riding.
  • Upper-body conditioning. Use poles and you’ll get a great workout for your arms, shoulders and back.
  • Leg strength. Pulling a snowshoe out of the snow and pushing it forward for the next stride is similar to the motion of pulling the pedal up the back of the stroke and pushing it over the top. When you’re snowshoeing uphill, you’ll feel how well it works the quads.
  • Variety. If you ride all winter, you may not be as enthusiastic about cycling as you should be once spring arrives. Snowshoeing keeps you fit while making you eager to get back on the bike.

During more than 30 years in cycling journalism, Fred Matheny has written hundreds of fitness & training articles for top bike magazines and websites. Many of his best eBooks and eArticles are on sale in the RBR eBookstore. As a rider, he has raced to medals in state and national championships, plus a senior world record in the Team Race Across America. As a coach, he has worked with hundreds of riders at PAC Tour Training Camps, Carpenter/Phinney Bike Camps, and Dirt Camp.

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