How Peloton Helped Get Me Ready for Snowboarding Season
Calling all skiiers, snowboarders, and winter athletes.
By Alyssa Sybertz•
I always get butterflies before the first snowboarding trip of the season. I wonder if I’ll pick up where I left off last year or if it will take me a couple of runs to get comfortable again. I wonder if this will be the year I’m finally brave and confident enough to try the moguls or if I’ll just stick to the groomers. But this year, ahead of my trip out to Park City, Utah, those butterflies weren’t as active as usual and the voice of doubt in my head had dimmed. Why? Because for the past 10 months I’ve been riding a Peloton.
In the weeks leading up to my trip, I would think while on the Bike about the ways that cycling—especially climbing and jogging out of the saddle—translated to snowboarding. But it wasn’t until I hit the slopes that it became really apparent. On day one of my trip, I focused on the basics, and they were many of the same basics I think about on the Bike. I tried to keep my upper body loose and relaxed and my center of gravity balanced over my board, the same way I try to keep my grip on the handlebars loose and my butt pressed back over the seat. And it worked: I felt relaxed and calm.
But snowboarding, just like cycling, is mostly in the lower body. When I’m sliding down the trail on my heel side, my glutes and quads are doing the heavy lifting. And when I’m on my toe side, it’s my calves and hamstrings that get the brunt. But just like in cycling, if you spend too much time on one side, your muscles get fatigued quickly and you can be in trouble for the rest of the day. So I thought about the way I try to focus on the push and pull of each pedal stroke and tried to translate that to the mountain, keeping my turns even so as not to wear down one side too fast.
At the end of day one, we hit some pretty steep groomed trails. These are the trails where I tend to get in my own head, doubting my abilities until I chicken out and mentally kick myself as I slide down the trail on my stable heel side. But on my Peloton rides, especially those with multiple sets of intervals, I’d been practicing getting out of my head and convincing myself that my body was capable of more than my mind gave it credit for. Not to mention the fact that, standing at the top of the trail, I could remember what it felt like to hover up over the seat of the Bike, my core tight and legs turning yet totally in control of my body, and I knew that was how I needed to feel to get down the trail. Guess what? I crushed it.
Days two and three, however, were different animals. For one, I was tired. My legs were sore. And that made me see another similarity between cycling and snowboarding, which is the way my body wanted to react when fatigue set in. In both cases, when my muscles are sore and burning, my body grows longer. I stand up straighter on my board, which means I have less control over its path, or lean forward on my Bike, causing a slow, broken pedal stroke. But this doesn’t help in either case—I’m much more likely to catch an edge and fall while snowboarding and it’s much more difficult to get back into the rhythm on the Peloton.
The key, I realized, is to dig in, to sink down deeper into my legs. The lower I bent my knees over my board, the more the burn lessened and spread out among my quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves, plus I was significantly more in control. In past years I probably didn’t have the lower body strength to actually go lower when it hurt, but that is just one of the pleasant side effects of the Peloton. I also tried more un-groomed trails on days two and three, which require more engagement in the core and more flexibility in the hip flexors in order to avoid the trap of standing up taller and losing balance and control. And thanks to hours of cycling, I had those things and was able to make it safely and sturdily down the trail.
Snowboarding can be hard (especially when you learn as an adult, like I did). But it can also be incredibly fun and rewarding. This year, on my first trip, it was both. And I owe a lot of that to Peloton.