There’s only one place to ride a bicycle and that is outdoors, but through the winter more cyclists have been taking to indoor cycling to avoid the rain and cold. We’re here to remind you of all the benefits of cycling outside.
We’re sure most of you don’t need us to tell you why cycling outdoors is so much better than indoors cycling, but just in case, here are six reasons.
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing
Yes, the rain and cold can make facing the outdoors challenging at times. But provided you’ve got the right clothing you can face any weather.
Cycle clothing has come on leaps and bounds in recent years with some big textile developments that make it so much easier to face the rain or cold weather. Waterproof and breathable jackets, waterproof socks, neoprene gloves, soft shell jackets. The Gabba. You don’t even need to spend a fortune either as the quality and performance you can get in clothing that doesn’t break the bank is impressive these days.
Cycling outdoors makes you happy
There’s nothing like the feeling of air rushing past your face and the exhilaration from hurtling along a road at high speed to make you feel alive and lift your mood. You don’t get that in a gym that’s for sure.
According to some research outdoor exercise can be a cure for the seasonal affective disorder that some people suffer from at this time of year when the days are short and the nights long. So that’s a good reason right there for shunning the indoor trainer.
Riding outside is sociable
You can’t ride with friends on an indoor trainer. Though saying that Zwift does allow you to ride with virtual partners. What we mean of course if you can’t go for a ride with a group of friends and have a good old natter, racing each other to the top of each hill and then celebrate with a slab of cake and hot drink. Riding in a group is also safer and you’re more likely to push yourself that little bit harder.
Cycling is a great sociable activity and it’s one of the big appeals for many cyclists. Doing regular rides with friends is a great motivator as well, especially if you’re feeling a bit lazy or the weather is a bit iffy. No one likes to let a friend down.
Cold weather helps you burn fat
According to a study cycling in cold weather can promote the growth of brown fat (brown adipose tissue) which burns white fat and can reduce sugar levels. The brown fat consumes a lot of energy producing heat to keep you warm in cold weather and this process can help regulate body weight. So cycling outside in the cold is good for you.
Cycling outdoors is interesting
Who wants to sit on a stationary trainer staring at the wall or trying to distract yourself from the tedium and utter boredom by listening to music and watching television? Not us. Cycling outdoors is infinitely more interesting as you have the beautiful great outdoors, whether country or urban, to enjoy and prevent you ever getting bored.
The outdoors gives you the chance to enjoy spectacular views, watch the sun rise over the valley, experience the transition from one season to the next, experiences that are far more enjoyable than staying indoors staying at a screen. Plus there's night riding which, provided you're prepared with decent lights, can be hugely enjoyable.
Plus, not only is riding indoors on a stationary trainer so boring, it 'might' also knacker your bike, as Mat found out when he spoke to a few brands about using carbon bikes in a turbo.
Outside is free
To borrow the popular #outsideisfree hashtag, cycling outdoors doesn’t cost you anything unlike indoor training which requires an expensive turbo trainer at the very minimum, and a smart trainer and Zwift subscription if you’re really going to invest in cycling indoors. Yes, there will be those rides in the rain, cold wind and snow even, but there’ll also be rides in the sun and it’s those rides that you’ll look forward to and remember fondly.
What gets you cycling outdoors?
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.