Fall Cross-Training Keeps You Sharp and Builds Strength

Keegan Swenson and Tyler Wren fly over the barriers at the Utah State Fairpark in the 2011 Utah Cyclocross Series race #2.
Keegan Swenson and Tyler Wren fly over the barriers at the Utah State Fairpark in the 2011 Utah Cyclocross Series race #2. Photo: Dave Iltis

By Tyler Wren

Fall is one of my favorite times of year in Utah, especially in the mountains. Now is the time that color starts coming back into our landscape, and they are the most brilliant colors of the year. For me, fall and the end of the road cycling season inevitably brings a respite from my road bike and a chance to enjoy other types of exercise. One of the things I enjoy most about living in Utah is the accessibility to excellent and diverse outdoor activities. I believe the cross-training here has had a tremendous positive impact on my professional cycling career, so I want to discuss my fall exercise regime in this journal, and my wintertime activities in the next issue.

We are fortunate to have a strong cyclocross scene here in Utah run by the fine folks over at UTCX. Those races start up on October 6th this year up in Ogden. Although suffering on a cyclocross bike may not seem like much of a break from working hard on a road bike, it does offer an interesting change of pace from the road scene and a chance to incorporate some running into my cycling efforts. I believe in keeping all energy levels firing to some degree throughout the year, and cyclocross is the perfect way to exercise your top-end when your head needs a break from the road bike efforts.

The majority of my fall training time is spent off all of my bikes though, hiking in the mountains. Just outside Salt Lake there are dozens of incredible and difficult hikes to keep things fresh and interesting. I usually do two to three big hikes per week in the fall, and the first few leave me more sore than any bike race ever has. After I build some ‘hiking form’ and the soreness is minimal, I attempt some of the bigger, all-day hikes like Lone Peak, Mount Timpanogos, or Mount Nebo. The physical benefits of hiking the Utah mountains that stay with me months later in the road season are leg and glute strength, core muscle activation, stability, muscular endurance. If I go out with my main hiking buddy and former cycling pro Burke Swindlehurst, I can also count on my heart rate being pegged the whole way up the mountain.

I’m a big believer in getting into the weight room during the fall as well. I travel constantly during the spring and summer for races, so I can’t keep a consistent strength training routine during that time. Cycling is great physical exercise, but cycling alone can leave our bodies unbalanced with certain muscle groups underdeveloped, like our core and upper body. I use my time at home in the fall to address these issues and rebuild my strength for the following season’s marathon race schedule.

I hope my discussion of autumnal physical activity has helped inspire you to have an enjoyable and productive cycling off-season. With winter just one season away now, I’ll talk about some of my wintertime training approaches in my next journal. Thanks for reading. -Tyler

Tyler Wren is a professional cyclist for the Jamis/Sutter Home Professional Men’s Cycling Team living in downtown Salt Lake City. He also coaches athletes and is available for cyclocross and road cycling clinics. To find out more information, contact Tyler at [email protected] or 610-574-1334.

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