So it is raining and snowing like crazy back east and Punxsutwney Phil stuck his furry head out this morning. As a result, he did not see his shadow, and has predicted that it will be an early spring. Now everyone will be champing at the bit to get back out on the road. While it is really cold here, most people are happily spinning indoors and occasionally sneaking outside when the roads are ice-free.
I did the latter last Saturday and found that I did not feel as comfortable and fluid off-road as I remembered being this summer - in short, I was stiff and lacked balance. It got me thinking of how best to restore flexibility and balance and I remembered my Yoga for Athletes DVD by Rodney Yee. After digging around the house for 30 minutes, I found the DVD and headed downstairs for a session. The only DVD capable machine we have down there is the Xbox 360, so I spent 10 minutes with the game controller pressing A, B, X, Y and Fire trying to figure out how to make it play. All the while the screen was inviting me to try a new game or chat online with iRule_Xbox (don't these people have a job?)
Finally, I got it going and confirmed my worst fears regarding my lost flexibility and balance for the next hour. I like this routine because it involves a lot of twisting and stretching poses -up/down, front/back and left/right. It also includes lunges and back back bends to open-up the hips, groin and front of your torso where in addition to hamstrings, cyclists are notoriously tight. Other poses strengthen the core which helps you pedal more efficiently while maintaining the health of your low back. All of which will help to avoid imbalances that can lead to injury later in the season when you really start cranking-up the miles. There are also bonus poses for cyclists that you can do after long rides.
Finally, the workout has 3 people on screen demonstrating modifications to the pose if you can't do the complete pose. So you try and follow one of the 3 instructors based on your level. I am not sure what this says about me, but in my case it was the guy named Chris with a Mohawk and nipple rings - I am hoping to graduate to following Rodney in the near future.
In addition to staying shape over the winter with spinning and weights, consider adding yoga 2 - 3 times per week to keep you flexible and balanced - it will pay dividends later in the season.