Is it better to ride indoors or outdoors during the winter time?

Is it better to ride indoors or outdoors during the winter time?


Most cyclists I know can be put in one of two categories. The first guy will never go for a ride in anything less than 40 degrees. The second guy will ride his bike down to 7 degree weather even if it’s snowing and the only body parts he can still feel is in complete agony.


So is it better to ride indoors on a stationary trainer or outdoors? What will give you the best training results and prepare you best for Bike4Chai?


90% of the time, the better option will be to ride outdoors. Hills, wind and other variables mix up your outdoor ride and better prepare you for real riding conditions. The main thing is to dress appropriately (we will cover this in a future post). With the right clothing you can ride comfortably down to 25-30 degrees.


There are times when riding outdoors isn’t the best option. You might think you’re tougher than Lance by riding in 7 degree weather, but getting a flat  or being absolutely miserable on a ride is not going to end up well. Dangers on the road like snow or black ice is also a bad idea.


Riding indoors can have it’s upside. If you compare a one hour bike ride outside versus on the trainer, your indoor ride is 100% riding while your outdoor ride has some coasting on flats and downhills, plus some stops at intersections. On your trainer you can ride uninterrupted, which is very beneficial.


It’s also a great alternative if you are short on time and just want to get a quick ride in (let’s face it, dressing for the winter can sometimes take longer time than the actual ride)


If you can ride outdoors, go for it. If you’re stuck inside, put on your favorite Tour de France DVD and pound those pedals.


Mark Izhak, RD

Bike4Chai Coach

2 thoughts on “Is it better to ride indoors or outdoors during the winter time?

  1. For all who are interested in a great program for indoor riding, I would like to recommend Chris Carmichaels Progressive Power Cycling videos. They are downloadable and they’re great. I found it very boring to watch the Tour de France :-) and this allows me to really train with professionals.

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