One of the best things about off-road riding during the off-season is that it provides a change of pace. You're actually working the same muscles but because the riding is so different and because there are so many new distractions pedaling off road, you feel like you're participating in a brand new sport. Most cyclists find it exciting, refreshing and fun. And, it becomes the perfect cross training for road cycling.
You develop new skills spinning off road, too. For example, learning to ride through technical sections, you develop better balance and bike-handling skills. Playing bumping games with friends where it's safe will help you when you're jamming in a tight pack on the road. Scaling steep off-road climbs, will build upper-body strength that comes in handy on climbs and sprints on pavement.
Fun And Games
Some off-roaders even play bicycle polo in the winter. Use a beater bike because this sport can be very tough on your bike. You'll never have more fun getting an incredible workout, though. Use a soccer ball and get permission to play on the field you want to use. Construct a mallet from a dowel about an inch thick and 36-inches long, with a block of wood at the end. Definitely wear your helmet. BMX safety pads are a good idea, too. Groups of about four or five players on each team work best. Soccer goals are about the right size for goals. Be careful and respectful of each other: rough play can break bones and bikes.