Mountain biking is a fantastic sport, except for a couple of drawbacks. For one, it can be difficult just finding time to get out on the trails, especially with the recent time change. If you don’t have a light your plum out of luck. Also if it’s raining, as it has been the last day here, you’re usually going to have to stay off the trails to keep them in pristine condition for the next ride. This is the time of year when it can be especially advantageous to have another sport or way to workout when jumping on the bike isn’t ideal.
Running is a great way to keep up your stamina and work some of the different muscles in your legs. It’s also more feasible in the rain than biking. Throw a rain jacket on with your ear warmers and you’re set. Hill running will help to build up those quads and calf muscles too. Yes, running isn’t everyone’s favorite past time but it breaks up the constant of always biking and helps work muscles you wouldn’t normally use during pedaling. I used to run trail running races and noticed my fitness level shot up quickly. I’d then race cross country on a 40 pound hardtail rig and was actually able to beat about half the pack. Plus running just has that different feel to it. Like it’s you against the elements.
If you’re not into running or you feel like it’s too boring for your tastes, then maybe try some type of organized sport as another option. I’m certain the majority of us riders played some sort of sport either in school or in an after school league. Are you telling me you don’t miss it? Maybe try playing basketball, baseball, football, etc., with your kids or friends. Much like running, other sports offer something cycling can’t and that’s a means to use other muscle groups. Heck, even if your not playing a sport you can lift weights. A pair of dumbbells are about $20 at your local sports outlet.
I think cross training is a great asset to any athlete. It gives you versatility in the muscles you use and increases your skillset. And if you’re playing a competitive sport the focus and hand/eye coordination required can only help your biking. So if you can’t get on your bike or you have some free time, try something a little different. Variety is the spice of life.