For off-season activities, mountain biking may be the best cross training available for skiing—both mentally and physically. Physically, there’s the obvious fact that you’re just going uphill and grinding it out. Of course it keeps you in shape. The downhill does as well, and has you shifting weight and working the legs in a very similar manner.

The micro muscles are what might surprise you. You manage to work all those little balance muscles, contorting your body to work around or avoid a tree, as you would while skiing through the trees. Later, when you find yourself sore in places you didn’t think would be sore, you realize the work those micro muscles were doing.  

Some of my favorite trails have series of turns that mimic skiing fantastically. The mental-physical connection in mountain biking is also an amazing way to prepare for an upcoming ski season.  When trying to push your comfort zone, you’re exercising your mind-body connection to its fullest. Again, as in tree skiing, you find yourself in a situation where if you thought about it, you would have nailed the tree. It takes practice to keep the split-second connection from what your eyes see to how your body moves. The uphill grind is a mental exercise, too. It becomes a mind-over-body experience that often occurs high in the alpine, or even below tree line as you’re breaking trail. 

While OR doesn’t market bike-specific gear, I’ve found one item in particular to be great to bring along when heading for a ride in the alpine: the Transcendent Sweater. This article of clothing has allowed me to sit and enjoy a view after a long climb without getting chilled. It doesn’t have to be alpine, either. It could be sitting at a mid-ride destination in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Echo Duo Longsleeve Tee is also great for riding when you need the quick-drying material and a bit more warmth than the short sleeves.

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