In his latest 2017 diary, ORICA-SCOTT's Sam Bewley explains why time away from the bike is essential for prolonging every rider's career:
The off-season is a crucial time of year for a professional cyclist: not just for each season but for your whole career.
It’s the only time I do other types of exercise. Running, hiking, swimming, basketball - getting away from cycling but staying fit doing other things gives you longevity in your career, physically and mentally. It’s a really important time and I enjoy it.
How long I take off the bike depends on the start of my season the following year. If I’m starting at Tour Down Under or targeting the New Zealand national championships, I need to be in awesome condition in early January, so I’ll take less time off the bike.
I haven’t done much riding since the Vuelta and my season won’t start until February. I was off the bike for a good month, doing lots of other things to keep my fitness up.
Mitch Docker introduced me and the team to Wall Ball. It’s pretty simple - you bounce a ball against the wall and it can only bounce once.
We’ve even got the ORICA-SCOTT trainer on board - he reckons as an off-season activity it’s pretty much perfect: a bit of impact, different movements, flexibility, so we’ve got the green light from the team which makes it even more fun.
It’s good for your bones. The density of cyclists’ bones is poor because there is no impact (apart from when we fall off). Running is good, anything where you are jumping and landing is good because it helps build bone density.
Back on the bike
When you come back to training now it’s not the same sort of training you do during the season. It’s a lot more relaxed, you give yourself a couple of weeks to build into it and take things slowly.
But you’re also really motivated to get back on the bike after the break, so it’s a really enjoyable time of year, especially in Girona when the weather is good.
You try different things, some dirt roads, stop for coffee, and it’s just a fun time to train. You start to implement things slowly.
Maybe you have one beer after training. Then you take the beer out, then a week later you take the coffee stops out, and a week later you take the gravel roads out. It starts to get more focused over the next four to five weeks, and in December it’s all about getting in shape to race.
With everyone else in party mode, December can be hard, especially for the southern hemisphere riders.
You spend all year away from your family, you head home during the summer and the festive season, and you’re mixing intense training with catching up with friends and family you haven’t seen for 10 months.
The main reason I stay in Girona so long is it keeps me away from any distractions. I can get pre-season going well and back into serious mode, start training really well, then relax a little bit when I go back for Christmas knowing I’m already at a good level.
So that's my plan now: training here in Spain until the end of December, back to Australia for a few days, and then I’ll be straight back into the new season.