Dispatches from Columbine

By Dave Wiens and Rebecca Rusch

When the weather dictates it’s time to put the bikes away, what do two of our favorite mountain biking pros do with themselves? We checked in with Rebecca Rusch and Dave Wiens to learn their secrets to surviving the long winter, so they can emerge feeling refreshed and ready to roll. From cross training to relaxing to goal setting, maybe their off-season routines can inspire your own.

Rebecca Rusch

What’s your favorite cross training activity?

I live in the mountains of Idaho, so riding outdoors is not an option right now.

I don’t put studs on bike tires and try to force a sport out of season. Instead I embrace the winter because I can’t change it and because it’s a healthy break physically and mentally. I also plan bike travel trips throughout the winter to keep me motivated. Here are my top five winter activities:

  1. Cross country skiing: SUPER good aerobic training and I can tailor traditional bike workouts to skis, including hill intervals, fast cadence, endurance, etc.
  2. Backcountry skiing: I chase the sweet Idaho powder and make it count by not buying a lift ticket and earning my turns instead. I hike uphill plenty in the winter and that makes for great endurance days. Plus I always offer to break  trail since it’s a better workout, so friends are happy to invite me along.
  3. Trainer time: OK, so sitting on the trainer and going nowhere is not my favorite thing to do, but I realize it’s essential in keeping muscle memory firing and doing the cycling specific workouts that CTS Coach Dean insists upon. The key to victory here is quality vs. quantity. Plan those hard workouts on the bike and get them done and out of the way in an hour.
  4. Stretching/yoga: Oh, yeah! Now I remember why my hips are so tight! It’s because I forgot to stretch! I use the extra hours of darkness in the winter to reacquaint myself with my foam roller and stretching regime. This is a great time to address nagging soreness or stiffness that developed during the race season.
  5. Strength training: This is also something that gets neglected when I’m traveling and racing full bore, so when I’m home in the winter, I tend to muscles that need attention. I’m not into heavy lifting and hardcore weights, but you can do plenty of good work with some resistance bands, balance exercises, core and maintenance.

What’s your favorite winter relaxation routine?

I tend to do a fair bit of nesting in the winter. This includes baking my own bread and doing plenty of home cooking. This is also the season for organizing closets, getting rid of old gear, and reducing the clutter that piles up during the season. It surprises many people to hear this, but I am quite a homebody when I have the opportunity. Maybe organizing is so rewarding because it lends an illusion of stability and calm to my otherwise hectic lifestyle.

What’s your favorite way to connect with family & friends after a busy race season?

Holidays are the time when I’m on a less regimented travel and training schedule, so I can take a week to visit family and not be stressed about logging workout time. These trips can be more about them and less about me. My mission is to be the coolest aunt ever, so I love visiting my nieces and making the time spent all about them. Thanksgiving in Washington D.C. was filled with bike rides, rock climbing, ice skating, dance party competitions (their idea!) and hikes. With friends at home, I mostly connect with ski dates and spend a fair bit more time working at the Ketchum Fire Department.

Do you do any introspective review of the previous season and think about what goals you might want to set for the next year?

Introspection on my season sort of happens automatically when I write an end-of-year report for sponsors. This work requirement is actually a great personal exercise, as well. It’s a forced trip down memory lane that is a wonderful way to recap how things went. During the busy season, I’m rushing from one event to another with little downtime to reflect. I STILL haven’t written a blog about the 2012 Leadville Trail 100 win because I rushed straight off to Crankworx and a SRAM Gold Rusch Tour event 24 hours later. (Side note:  I do promise to put my thoughts in a blog about that fantastic day.)

I do think it’s important to look at the year, reflect on the highs and lows and lay down some plans for the upcoming year. I find if I don’t set some goals, I wallow around aimlessly and never really accomplish much. My goals for 2013 will include race goals, SRAM Gold Rusch Tour event goals, personal goals and business goals.  Some will be small, some will be big and some will absolutely be shared with you on the start line of many of the Leadville Race Series events! See you there.

Dave Wiens

What’s your favorite cross training activity?

All kinds of skiing: alpine up at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, skate skiing on groomed trails and backcountry touring. I like to compete in Nordic races like the Alley Loop and in some ski mountaineering races, too. I also play as much hockey as I can. This game is pretty new to me, so I’m not very good, but it’s challenging, fun and full of intervals, intervals, intervals. I also try to get into the weight room two or three times each week just to keep everything strong and working: three sets of 15, light weight and no rest. Upper body, lower body, abs, lower back, etc. Full body.

What’s your favorite winter relaxation routine?

There’s very little relaxing around our house ever, other than at might when we’re sleeping. In order, my favorites are hot baths with my wife, Susan; movies with Susan and the boys; and watching the Broncos.

What’s your favorite way to connect with family & friends after a busy race season?

We’ll make a few trips to Denver to see my family, and Susan and I just got to reconnect with her family and friends in California (where she was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis, CA, last month). We’re always able to stay up with our friends here in Gunnison, so winter isn’t much different than other times of the year.

Do you do any introspective review of the previous season and think about what goals you might want to set for the next year?

Always. Racing or otherwise, goal setting is a constant. I’m always striving for something.

2013-12-29T22:39:04+00:00 December 11th, 2012|