#InsideOut: Leah Kirchmann’s Off Season

How do you spend your winter?

I typically return home to Canada at the end of the season after the world championships. While a lot of riders plan a vacation during this time of the year, I look forward to a nice “staycation” at home after being away for so long!

I usually stay at home in Canada until the winter weather arrives. At this point I like to plan a training camp somewhere warm. California is one of my favourite places for winter training. The weather is great and the roads are so much fun to explore.

I always travel back my hometown in Winnipeg to see my family for Christmas. After this, I head to Europe in January to start training with the team in Spain to prepare for the early season races.

Where could we typically find you during the off-season? 

I like to prioritize spending time with friends and family during the off-season since I’m away from Canada for so much of the year. The fall colours are spectacular at this time of the year where I live, so I like to convince friends to join me out hiking, running and mountain biking to enjoy the nature.

One of my favourite parts of being home is access to my own kitchen. I love to experiment with cooking and baking, and spend a lot of time doing this when not out training. My latest challenge is perfecting my sourdough bread. I’ve been spoiled by the high quality of bread in Europe, so now need to bake my own when home. My friends and training partners are sometimes the lucky recipients of some tasty treats when I’ve been baking.

Did you have a holiday during the off-season?

In addition to my “staycation”, I was able to fit in a bit of a holiday around the Cycling Canada athlete’s summit out in Victoria. I had fun connecting with friends and adventuring on the West Coast for a few days. The West Coast is my favourite place in Canada, it is so beautiful and there is endless potential for outdoor adventure.

One day I took my bike on the ferry over to Saltspring Island, known for it’s community of artisans, to visit a friend from university. She impressed me showing up to watch Flanders this year. I explored the island by bike and made sure to include a stop to tour a local cheese factory. The fresh cheese and olive samples made for a delicious lunch!

How does your training change throughout the winter? 

I usually take a solid rest period after worlds to recover from the long road season. I still like to keep active and do some other kinds of activities like running, hiking, yoga and mountain biking during this time.

After this, I’ll slowly build back up the volume on the bike and also start to build strength in the gym. I’ll then start to ramp up the intensity as the race season approaches.

I try to minimise the amount of time I spend riding the rollers and will instead opt to mountain bike or cross-country ski if there is a lot of snow. I grew up nordic ski racing, so I never miss an opportunity to get back out on the trails!

Do you enjoy time away from racing or are you eager to get back at it come January?

I do enjoy the chance to relax, reflect and reset after a long season. I love racing, but taking a break in the fall helps build motivation and excitement looking ahead to the next year.

Describe the difference between on/off season season in one sentence.

The off-season is all about planning and goal setting, while the race season is about executing these plans.

Is there something in particular you’re motivated to develop next year?

I’m motivated to continue building on the massive success of the team from this season. Personally I want to keep challenging myself to develop my leadership skills within the team and to also to work specifically on strengthening my sprint skills.