Winter is the time of year when cyclists everywhere reach for the indoor trainer. But steel yourself to keep riding outside and you’ll discover all manner of benefits for body and mind. 

The problem with being around for 162 years is that your advice can get a bit samey. Generations of Pearsons have come and gone, passing cycling wisdom down through the ages (you’re welcome) but the simple law of averages suggests that, from time to time, we’re going to sound like a stuck record. Which may not mean all that much to anyone under 30 years of age but then no pub bore was ever chastised for being a sticky download. Frankly, they don’t make them like they used to.

Allow us to furnish you with an example. At Pearson, you might have noticed that we continually bang on about how amazing our bikes are (well, customers say they are). We’re also rather prone to advocating the various health benefits cycling has to offer. For low-impact high-intensity cardio, a 100km road ride is hard to beat; just as a bike is the perfect mode of transport for a mindful meander through nearby woods.

Whether you go long or go local, one thing you’ll hear from Pearson over and again, and for which we make no apology, is our hearty recommendation that you ride outside. Not only will this deliver the added advantage of continually updated scenery but it really is the very best way to get the most from your riding; to wring from your rig the ultimate experience for body and soul. 


It’s not that we’ve forsaken indoor cycling altogether. After all, not having to contend with motor traffic can be a blessed relief, especially when the days are short and the light is low. There’s also the fact that, while you’re hidden away you have nowhere to hide; indoor riding keeps you pretty honest, with its saddle up and suck it up nature, it’s made for masochists.

Yet cycling on a trainer can be pretty monotonous, too, affording no freewheeling descents nor easy coasting. It’s also hard to escape the feeling that riding indoors is a bit like what they once said about the iPad – a solution in search of a problem. Or, for that matter, what they still say about ships; that they’re safe in a harbour but that’s not what ships are for. By all means include indoor riding in your wider cycling regime, just don’t make it your sole focus. 

To truly enjoy the riches of riding, do it in the fresh air and do it often. Commit to making your outside ride a habit and eventually that habit will morph into something else – a healthy lifestyle. With Christmas approaching this probably sounds a bit counterintuitive;  ’tis the season, after all, when ‘five a day’ means three glasses of claret washed down with a double scotch. Yet exercising in the open air taps into some pretty deep-rooted DNA (we’re talking mastodons and mammoths).


Natural daylight is known to confer a range of virtues; it’s good for your skin, boosts vitamin D and helps improve mood. It’s why, come winter, people will spend good money on artificial lights that emit anything but. It’s why architects like big windows and why the kitchen conversion that backs on to your house has more glass than The Shard. Even on days when the light is poor and the weather apocalyptic, getting outside to ride allows your brain to process daylight in ways you might not fully appreciate. Anecdotal evidence suggests exercising in low-light primes your body clock to switch off later in the day (although not until you get home), thus contributing to a good night’s sleep. 

Helpfully, more empirical evidence is also available, reliable data which confirms that how you move on your bike when riding in the elements is a key, well, element. During Pearson’s decade-plus of bike-fitting, we’ve learned the importance of muscle ‘recruitment’. Put simply, this means that when riding in a certain position or style – wrangling one of our adventure bikes up a gravel climb, for example – certain muscles will co-opt others to help them; to share the workload, for instance, or to compensate for an injury. This, in turn, burns calories more efficiently than being screamed at by a Peloton gym bunny (other unnaturally upbeat instructors are available).

The beauty of riding outside is the range of optional extras that not only come free of charge but contribute to your experience. Riding uphill brings its own form of reward, albeit slowly, while wind resistance is good for you, too. And yes, the pro peloton spends much of its time in echelon trying to limit drag but those riders are, with respect and in every sense, on a whole different trip.

‘Eat, sleep, ride, repeat’, goes the old adage and not without reason. Partly it’s to sell bumper stickers and t-shirts, of course, but it’s a mantra containing more than a kernel of wisdom. The truth, as Mulder and Scully didn’t quite say, is outside.


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published