Embrace the Outdoors and Ride Outside

Embrace the Outdoors and Ride Outside

In today’s fast-paced world, finding time for exercise often means squeezing in a workout whenever and wherever possible. For many cyclists and triathletes, this has led to the rise of indoor trainers—convenient, efficient, and increasingly sophisticated machines that replicate the experience of outdoor cycling. While there’s no denying the benefits of indoor training, there’s something uniquely valuable about taking your bike outside and hitting the open road.

This year, I challenged myself to ride outside more often (which can be challenging sometimes in the rainy Portland winters), and I can 100% say that my bike handling, ability to respond to surges and confidence on technical courses has grown tremendously. While I still ride my trainer about 1-2 times a week and especially for specific, targeted workouts, prioritizing outdoor time has made me a much stronger cyclist very quickly. Not convinced? Here's a few other reasons why you should get outside more often:

1. Connection with Nature

Riding outside allows you to connect with nature in a way that an indoor trainer simply cannot replicate. The changing scenery, the feel of the wind on your face, the sounds of the neighborhood or even bumping into friends on your route creates an immersive experience that’s both mentally and physically refreshing. Getting outside has a calming effect on the mind, reducing stress and boosting your overall sense of well-being. Whether you’re cycling through a bustling city park or a serene countryside, the natural environment enhances the joy of cycling. 

2. Real-World Skills Development

Outdoor cycling demands a variety of skills that indoor trainers cannot fully replicate. When you ride outside, you need to navigate different terrains, handle turns, manage traffic, and adapt to weather conditions. These experiences improve your bike-handling skills, spatial awareness, and ability to respond to unexpected situations. Skills such as cornering and riding on varied surfaces such as cobbles, gravel, torn up road and dirt are skills that definitely can't be practiced outdoors and are crucial to helping you become a well-rounded and safe cyclist. 

If you're a triathlete, this goes for you especially. Riding in aero can feel very simple on the trainer, but it takes time to practice holding that position in wind, around turns, and while eating and drinking. Every year, people DNF races because of poor bike handling/preventable crashes - riding outside is just as important as turning all of those Training Peaks workouts green. 

3. Physical Benefits

Cycling outdoors engages your body in ways that indoor training cannot. The varied terrain—hills, flats, and descents—requires you to adjust your effort and riding technique constantly. This variability helps build muscle strength, improve cardiovascular health, and enhance your overall fitness. While there are machines now that can help mimic terrain changes, nothing can truly give you the real-world practice that the well...real world can give. 

4. Mental Stimulation

Riding outside stimulates your mind. The ever-changing environment, the need to stay alert, and the sensory experiences of sights, sounds, and smells keep your brain engaged. This mental stimulation can help prevent the boredom and monotony that sometimes accompany indoor training. It also promotes mental agility and sharpness, contributing to overall cognitive health.

5. Adventure and Exploration

There’s a sense of adventure and exploration that comes with outdoor cycling. Each ride is an opportunity to discover new routes, neighborhoods, and scenic spots. This sense of exploration can reignite your passion for cycling and make each ride feel like a mini-adventure. Especially with a bike like the Rogue All-Road, you can ride that dirt trail that parallels the paved path or venture down the gravel road that leads down to the lake that you've always had to walk to before. Especially when travelling, while a hotel spin bike can offer convenience, nothing compares to getting to see a new location by bike. And not for nothing, but after changing my training to mostly outdoor this year, I've gained a lot of confidence in being able to ride any course at any race. I see it as another adventure!

6.. Motivation 

Strava leaderboards and crowns. Need I say any more? 

Get Outside

While indoor trainers offer undeniable convenience and can be an excellent tool for focused training, they can’t replace the benefits of outdoor cycling. Riding outside connects you with nature, enhances your cycling skills and increases safety, provides physical and mental health benefits, fosters social interactions, and infuses your rides with adventure and excitement.

So, the next time you’re tempted to stay indoors just because it's "easier," remember the unique joys and benefits of outdoor cycling. Grab your helmet, get out on the road, and explore the world by two wheels.