Bust the Winter Blues
Ever met a winter Mountain Biker Grinch? A species typically found in the northern hemisphere, they can be easily identified in winter; heads hung low, obsessed with memories of the past, torturing themselves and their friends with stories of what it once felt like to ride dusty trails now covered in snow. We examined our pro riders for winter Grinch symptoms and surprisingly, didn’t find any. Discover their secrets to beating the winter blues…
Julien Absalon: Travel to the Southern Hemisphere
Julien Absalon is a self-confessed winter grinch. He was born in the North East of France which suffers bitterly cold, wet winters and he moved to the Côte d’Azur a few years ago, where he can enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine per year. Ideal for training, it’s also a great source of motivation and happiness for the Frenchman.
“I don’t think I could live in a wet region like the Vosges mountains again! It’s easy here; I don’t need to look through the window to know how to get dressed. Of course, long sleeves and tights are needed at some point but I barely remember where my rain jacket is!”
Riding a bigger bike in the sun; that’s my way to survive the winter
As if the Côte d’Azur wasn’t enough, Absalon decided to fly to the Reunion Island last November. “It felt great to be in summer at the end of November. It was around 25°c there and it was lovely to enjoy the simple things you usually only do in summer: breakfast and dinners outside, wearing shorts and flip flops, etc.” But lying on a beach definitely isn’t Absalon’s favorite off-season activity. “I’m an active person, so I can’t really imagine holidays without doing some sports. This year I decided to take part to the Megavalanche in St Paul.
I trained a lot with my brother Rémy on my BMC Trailfox last winter to improve my downhill skills so I thought I should give it a go again. Riding a bigger bike with a focus of having fun, in the sun; that’s my way to survive the winter!”
The fun in the sun paid off; Julien finished 7th in the event that his brother won for the 7th time in his career!
Lukas Flückiger: Race cyclo-cross
Unlike his French team mate, Lukas Flückiger prefers to stay at home and enjoy what Switzerland has to offer. “A MTB season is long and we spend quite a few days away from home so I like to stick around in winter. I’ve always liked cyclo-cross and that’s what I like to do in the winter. Mountain biking is slow at this time of the year; the ground is wet and naturally I’ve lost some fitness after my end-of-season break, so the bike feels heavy. With a cyclo-cross bike I feel like I’m flying (laughs). The bike is light and the skinny tires go through the mud and over the roots. I guess I’m pretty addicted to speed!"
The cold, the mud, the gummy boots and the ‘glühwein’
"I also like to take part in a few races. It’s excellent training for the following MTB season of course but thats not the only reason I do it. I like the atmosphere at ‘Cross races; the cold, the mud, the gummy boots and the ‘glühwein’ (mulled wine). If you haven’t tried cyclo-cross yet, what are you waiting for? You’ll love it!”
Reto Indergand: Try other sports
In the Gotthard region where Reto Indergand grew up, the altitude is high and the temperatures low. Way too low for riding any type of bike. Luckily, like many Swiss kids, Reto Indergand experienced many sports as a kid and could almost ski before he could walk. So cross-country skiing has become his favorite winter activity. “I put my skis on two or three times a week for a couple of hours. It’s great for endurance training, for the legs and the upper body too. Of course the view is also much better than inside a gym!”
The view is also much better than inside a gym
Reto goes alone or with his sister Linda, another talented MTB racer (XCE World Champion in 2015 and 2016): “We have different speeds on the bike but we are about the same on skis so I like to share some training sessions with her.”
“When there isn’t enough snow, or when I’m too far from a ski loop, I go jogging. It’s a good alternative but not as much fun as cross-country skiing.”
Lars: Enjoy what you can’t during the season
For Lars Forster, winter is a time to enjoy life. “Of course, the winter is full of training, on the bike and on skis (cross-country and backcountry skiing) but I also take the time out to enjoy what I can’t during the season.
I love food on the banned list during the season; chocolate, fondue and cakes
Before I started racing cross at the end of December I enjoyed some rest days on the weekends so I could spend time with my family, my girlfriend and my friends. I like to go out sometimes for a beer or two but I try to keep that in check!
I love food on the banned list during the season; chocolate, fondue, cakes. I definitely eat more of that during the winter than when I’m in racing-mode. Anyway, Swiss winter can be cold so I figure its probably better to have a few more inches around the waistline to get through it! (laughs)”
Titouan: Work on your future
It’s important to me to study and to get a diploma
Despite the bright future that some expect for him on a mountain bike, Titouan Carod doesn’t want to put his eggs in the same basket and uses the downtime to work on his post-racing career. “The career of an athlete is never very long so it’s important to me to study and to get a diploma. It’s hard for me to study during the season so I take advantage of the winter to catch up.”
What about you? What's your secret?