I was never a huge fan of Milli Vanilli. The Gen Y'ers amongst you won't even know who they are - YouTube at your own peril!! But "Blame it on the rain" is a pretty appropriate theme song for the last few days in Brisbane...
With a weather system of consistent, heavy rain and cyclonic winds for 3-4 days in a row, what is a C Grade Cyclist to do? I thought I'd put down a few thoughts on how to handle prolonged wet weather when you're a part-time, fair-weather cyclist...
A lot of people will gasp when I mention the 'R-word'. There are a lot of highly-respected coaches that basically say that the best training for cycling is, well, cycling - and running has no real cross-training value that 'more cycling' isn't better for.
Now, if you are a top-level cyclist focused on results, then I totally agree. But if you are a cyclist who's focus is on health and fitness, with racing just some 'added fun' into the mix, then running is a great addition in terms of 'cross training' and general health.
When its raining, running is a great additional 'sport' to have in your repertoire. I hate riding in the rain, mainly because of the slippery roads and (even worse) all the drivers who seem to forget that the roads are slippery and drive way to fast for the conditions. Running in the rain, on the other hand, is awesome fun and a great way to relieve yourself of the 'cabin fever' that can build up over successive wet days.
The trick is to always try and have a run each week when the weather is dry. That way you can avoid a week or two of sore legs when you start running again and your poor legs go into shock from the pounding!
2. Complementary exercises
Been a bit slack doing your core-strength workouts? Always wanted to try yoga or pilates (or yogalates, or whatever the latest fad mash-up is)? Use the rainy weather as an excuse to get back into those indoor stretching & sit-up routines, and/or look up a local yoga class and go along to give it a try.
If you really can't stay off the bike, then invest in a wind trainer (or mag-trainer, fluid-trainer, or one of the other options).
I have a mag-trainer at home, and I hate it. For me, its a psychological torture device - pedalling to nowhere drives me insane. So I only drag mine out if things are getting desperate...
Depending on how much you want to spend (or can afford to spend), there are a ridiculously wide range of options in the trainer market - from your basic triangular framed, back-wheel mounted cheapie, up to machines with linked video-streaming so you can ride virtual Tour de France stages.
If you must ride, then stay safe and do it indoors on a trainer.
4. Do Nothing
If you've been training consistently and hitting your goals - don't be afraid of staying off the bike. A few days off won't set you back in the long run.
Take the time to catch up on stuff around the house, or do a few things with your better-half and/or your kids. Then when the weather fines up - enjoy that feeling of itchy legs desperate to wind up the pedals, and hit the road mentally refreshed and ready for the mileage ahead.
Prolonged wet weather isn't a disaster as a non-elite cyclist. There are plenty of options for exercise and training (or just giving it a miss).
Instead of lamenting the lack of cycling time, seek out new opportunities that you otherwise would ignore during fine weather. They'll only make you more well-rounded in terms of general health and fitness, which will help give you greater longevity in your chosen sport of cycling.