Over the colder, winter months, much like the rugged bear, a lot of bike riders and bikes will go into hibernation. We can’t say we blame you; the weather in England is never really that amazing even when it’s supposed to be summer!
However, when the time comes to bring your two-wheeled beast out of hibernation, you also need to be prepared and make sure your fitness is at the right level in order to ride into the sunset with ease.
A lot of people, especially non-riders, don’t know that motorcycling is actually a healthy, low-impact, aerobic sport that could help you land some great abs while enjoying the freedom of the open road.
Since motorcycles usually weigh at least a few hundred pounds, riders must use their bodies to help steer, manoeuvre and balance the bike, plus brace themselves, especially when riding without a screen, against the forces of the wind. All of these things demand use of many muscles.
However, after an extended period of time away from riding (usually leading into autumn and throughout winter) your body can shut down and these muscles may weaken if not in constant use you are then in danger of not being ‘ride-fit’. Therefore, you will more than likely need to rebuild your core strength in order to comfortably return to the open road.
Like anything physical, you should build up slowly by riding for half-a day at first, then a whole day, then a couple of days one after another. If your planned riding is all relatively short journeys, then the need to do this diminishes, but if you plan to go on a long ride or a tour early in the spring, then you really must get yourself in shape to do this.
There are three main areas to focus on in order to improve your riding: strength, mobility and endurance.
For high-performance riding, on or off road, you’ll need strong legs, core, back and shoulders.
You rely on your legs to change your body position and help control the bike, so strength training increases both stability and endurance. There is nothing worse than coming up to dunes in the desert or a particularly nice bit of road and not having the strength or energy to brace your body as you hit them.
Your upper back and shoulders need to be strong to help you control the handlebars and keep you in position against the wind. Manoeuvring a bike through a race track or a dirt bike through single-track trails or an MX track takes a lot of strength and you’ll burn your arms out far too fast if you aren’t getting your whole upper body involved.
Exercises you can do to help increase your strength are outlined below:
Never underestimate the importance of flexibility. Not only do you need some flexibility to be able to contort your body to fit most sport bikes, but you also need to be able to open your hips as you hang off the bike or rotate your shoulders to operate the controls while tucked into various and sometimes odd riding positions.
To loosen up your body we have outlined some exercises to help with this:
While most people think the motorcycle does all of the hard work, long term riders know better and pros of this generation greatly step up their training before a race, as should you if you are serious about being able to ride at your peak. Whether you’re a motocross rider or track day hero, or just a Sunday afternoon rider, endurance plays a massive role in your ability to ride well and safely, because physical fatigue leads to mental lapses.
Below are just some of things you can do to ensure your endurance levels are kept up to scratch.
Whether you are in it to win it, or just enjoy weekend adventures, being ride-fit is imperative to staying safe and reducing the risk of injury whilst out on the open road. There are already a lot of dangers on the road for motorbike riders, don’t add your health and fitness to that list!
We’d like to thank our friends over at Tour1 for collaborating with us on this blog post. We’d recommend giving them a follow over on Facebook if you’re interested in all things Touring. You can find them at @tour1mcrides.