Our weekly ‘Afton Hill Repeat’ rides begin NEXT THURSDAY, April 5, 2018. Join us, and bring all your cycling friends!
Rides begin at 5:30pm sharp, in front of Selma’s Ice Cream Parlor in Afton. Road construction has been completed in Afton, so the roads are in great shape and there’s plenty of on-street parking available.
These training rides are FREE and they’re open to riders of all experience levels. After warming up, we do repeats on the main hill coming out of Afton (the “Coulee”). It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fast climber or slow, we ride a closed loop, so nobody gets dropped. There will be very fast riders and plenty that aren’t very fast or very good hill climbers. It doesn’t matter. Come ride. Hill climbing provides the best and most efficient training for your time, and the only way to get better at climbing is to climb.
These rides are phenomenal training for any races/events you have planned this season. So start the season off by working on your climbing legs!
And you’re free to ride any style of bike: most will ride their road bikes, but others will ride ‘cross bikes and mountain bikes, and some will likely ride TT bikes and who knows, maybe we’ll even see a fat bike! So don’t let your bike or your experience deter you.
As long as it’s dry, we’ll be there. No need to register in advance. Just come and be ready to roll out at 5:30 sharp, so be on your bike and ready at 5:15 for a pre-ride briefing. In past years we’ve had up to 40+ riders, and I hope to top that number this year. Let’s take advantage of the beautiful area surrounding Afton, the training it provides and the support we’ll provide for each other.
Let me know if you have questions. See you and your friends next Thursday!
Recovery might be the most important “training” you do on your bike. It’s often the hardest and the most overlooked aspect of training. Riding your bike stresses your body, especially when the training is long and/or hard.
However, we get stronger, faster and more fit following rest. In other words – training creates stress, while recovery promotes adaptation.
Many riders believe they must train hard every day. Lack of recovery is the key reason cyclists stop improving and plateau. Lack of recovery often leads to breakdown, illness and overtraining. Riders lose “freshness,” and the mental ability to keep riding. They get “sick of training.”
Don’t let this happen to you.
Recovery is a critical component to training, and once you realize its importance, recovery days are embraced, cherished and eagerly anticipated.
Recovery can be broken down a few ways. Certain rides may be classified as “Active Recovery Rides.” Characteristics include:
- Average heart rate <68% of threshold HR (from your 30 minute time trial)
- Average power <55% of functional threshold power (again, from your 30 minute TT)
- Perceived Exertion = <2 (2 of 10)
- Your level of exertion is very, very low. It feels “embarrassingly easy.” Extremely light pressure on the pedals. You induce no fatigue to your legs. It takes no concentration to maintain pace and continuous conversation is possible. The only concentration required is to ride your bike slowly enough. Cadence is low and ride duration is short (typically 30 minutes – 2 hours, depending on a variety of factors, such as rider experience, level of fatigue, etc).
The key to remember is that a recovery ride really can’t be too slow. Your only goal is to “flush” your legs.
In addition to Recovery Rides, you should take a periodic “Recovery Week.” After a strenuous block of training, a recovery week allows freshness to return (mental and physical) and helps your body to adapt to the cycling stress.
I generally schedule a formal recovery week for my athletes every 3rd or 4th week. I typically schedule a recovery week for my Master’s cyclists every 3 weeks and younger athletes (under 40) every 4 weeks. These are general guidelines and not hard and fast rules. A 50-year-old cyclist who has trained and raced his or her entire career may be able to train for 3+ weeks before a recovery week is required.
On the other hand, a 28-year-old rider who is new to the sport and has a limited amount of general athletic experience may need a recovery week more often.
A recovery week is characterized by significantly reduced volume (often 50% or more) and easy rides. Recovery weeks are a great time to focus on pedalling skill rides.
While I use the term Recovery “Week,” the actual recovery portion is typically about 5 days, which again can change by the athlete. Here is a template for a typical recovery week:
- Day 1: Off
- Day 2: Short and easy (z1-only).
- Day 3: Short and easy, and may (or may not) include a few spin-up or other pedal drills.
- Day 4: Off
- Day 5: Short and easy ride.
- Day 6: Relatively short ride, but a bit more effort. This is often a ride which includes a significant amount of z1 but also some z2 if the rider is feeling refreshed.
- Day 7: Longer aerobic ride (z2-3)
By the end of the 5th day, the cyclist is usually feeling quite fresh and eager to get back after it. The key here is to slowly ramp up the effort, but continue to keep the training stress low for another day or so.
So remember to include at least 1 recovery ride each week, and GO EASY. In addition, schedule a recovery week every 3rd or 4th week. You’ll ride stronger, you’ll be mentally and physically fresher and you’ll avoid burnout. So learn to enjoy your recovery.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help you prepare for your key events and races.
Threshold is a key predictor for cyclists. Whether you’re a roadie, an MTB rider or a triathlete, improving your threshold power is your best avenue to improve your fitness and your results.
What is threshold? You’ll see many terms out there; such as lactate threshold, aerobic threshold, anaerobic threshold and others. The functional definition I use is simply how hard you can ride for 1 hour (as defined by power output and/or average heart rate) at an all-out Time Trial race-pace effort.
Improving threshold really means two things:
- Improving your power output (which is the key for any cyclist….riding longer at a higher wattage), and
- Increasing the time you are able to ride at this level.
Improving threshold power and duration required dedicated work right at this level. The intervals are long and the work load is high. It takes a tremendous amount of effort (both mental and physical) to complete these intervals, but the payoff will be great.
Here’s a great workout you can use to improve upon your threshold: (more…)
This portion of the off season should be dedicated to improving your pedaling efficiency, your cycling-specific leg strength and “raising your ceiling” by improving your VO2 Max power. We’ll work on this with pedaling drills, with some short, full power intervals and some VO2 Max intervals while simulating climbing.
With that, here we go:
- 3 minutes easy
- Pedaling drills (1 minute at each of the rpm speeds listed): 90, 80, 70, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120
- 1 Recovery Interval (RI)
- 3 minutes tempo/threshold (2 at tempo level and the final minute at threshold)/ 3 RI
Main Set — Force Reps (You’re in your Biggest Gear)
- 2 sets (4 x (:10/:50)) 1 extra RI between sets and after. Alt seated and standing. (start from 6 – 8 mph). NOTE: Cadence will be very low at the start as you’re in the big gear. Then drive with everything you’ve got for 8-10 seconds. You’ll just be getting on top of your pedals at the 8-10 second mark.
- 2 sets (4 x (:10/:50)) 1 extra RI between sets and after. Alt seated and standing. (start from 12 – 15 mph rolling). NOTE: So you’ll be doing a total of 4 sets of 4 intervals each, so a total of 16 ALL OUT intervals.
Main Set — VO2 Max — climbing cadence (60 – 75 rpm)
- 7 minutes at VO2 Max / 2 min RI (seated)
- 4/2 (seated)
- 3/2 (seated)
- 5/2 (standing, sit & accelerate :10 each minute). NOTE: These likely won’t be at VO2 Max level. Tempo/threshold is OK
- 3/2 (standing). Same as above
Main Set — ILT (This is “Isolated Leg Training,” otherwise known as single leg pedal drills
- 2 x (:60/:60/:15 RI.) Followed by :15 Big Gear (BG) Hill simulation. Followed by :60 RI. NOTE: This means 60 seconds on each leg, followed by a 15 second recovery, then get in your biggest (hardest) gear and push HARD for 15 seconds. Then a 1 minute RI
Cooldown: 5 minute easy spin
That’s it! You just completed another top quality and highly functional training ride that will accomplish all the goals laid out at the beginning. Let me know how it goes for you!
This week’s indoor workout is one the not only builds cycling-specific leg strength, but also develops pedaling efficiency with some high cadence work and with single leg pedaling.
This training ride will be slightly over one hour long.
Here’s what it looks like:
Warmup (approx 25 minutes):
- 5 minutes easy spin z1-2
- Isolated Leg Training (ILT). Unclip one foot from the pedal then put it on the back post of the trainer (the other “working leg” remains in the pedal). You should be in the big chainring in front and somewhere in the middle of your back cassette. Your cadence should be about 60 rpm with your leg fully engaged the entire 360 of the pedal stroke.
- :30 smooth rotation one leg, then switch legs and repeat with the other leg
- :45 each leg
- 1:00 each leg, followed by :30 easy spin recovery interval (RI)
- Cadence work (easy gear). 1 minute each at 95 rpm, 100, 105 110 and 115, followed by a 1 minute easy spin RI.
- 5 minutes tempo/threshold. 4 minutes in z3/tempo, increasing slightly each minute. The final minute should be at z4/threshold effort/power/HR.
- 4 minutes easy z1 spin
- Put your bike in it’s biggest hear (53 x 11/12) and slow down to 4 – 8 mph. Then completely ALL OUT, pedal as HARD AS YOU CAN for 8 – 10 seconds seated, followed by :50 easy spin RI. You should just be getting on top of your pedals at the end of this 8 – 10 seconds. Perform 3 more :10/:50 seated. Following this, take an extra 1 minute RI. Next, perform 4 x :10/:50 ALL OUT standing. So it will look like this:
- 4 x :10/:50 seated ALL OUT.
- 1 extra RI
- 4 x :10/:50 standing ALL OUT
- 1 extra RI
- 4 x :10/:50, alternate seated and standing, ALL OUT
- 3 minutes RI
- 2 x 4 minutes at VO2 Max level effort (Power/HR/RPE). Cadence should simulate a hill climb (60 – 75 rpm), so you’ll be in a big, heavy gear. 2 minutes easy z1 spin RI between each interval. We’ll then finish up with:
- 1 x 6 minutes STANDING at approx tempo/threshold level (approx 60 rpm), followed by a 2 minute RI.
- 5 minutes light easy z1 spin at low cadence to flush your legs
This workout is a fantastic and all-encompassing off-season training ride. The benefits include single leg pedal practice and cadence work and a significant amount of cycling-specific leg strength in multiple training zones. All in an hour or less.
After this ride, you’ll get off the bike and know with 100% certainty that you put in some high quality work.
Remember that the success of your upcoming season is built NOW, in the off season, so keep it up!
Next week I’ll provide you with another GREAT workout plan, so keep in touch!
The first step to training properly is to have a starting point, a baseline. Knowing your heart rate zones and your power zones focuses your training and makes your time on the bike much more effective. So today’s workout is a Time Trial. While it might look “simple” on paper, it’s far from “easy.”
Bottom line is that you’re riding as hard as you can – as absolutely hard as you can – for 30 minutes. At the end of the TT you should feel completely spent, like you gave every ounce of energy in your body – as you should have.
Our goal in the TT is to determine your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), or Functional Threshold Heart Rate. FTP represents the “gold standard” for cyclists and triathletes, as the ultimate goal for all of us it to be physically and mentally able to ride more powerfully for longer.
True FTP is based on the highest average power (normalized) or average heart rate we can maintain for a 1 hour all-out race effort. This is nearly impossible for most of us to do with any amount of reliability, so we ride a 30 minute TT and make adjustments to average power (not HR). We reduce our 30 minute normalized power by 5% to arrive at our FTP.
If you ride a TT using only HR data (no power), we still ride a 30 minute TT, but use the average HR for the final 20 minutes (still ride the first 10 minutes at TT effort, but only use the average for the final 20 minutes).
Riding a TT is a necessary component to a well structured training program, so rest up for several days leading up to your TT, then go after it!
The TT can be done indoors or out. I have my athletes ride their TT indoors if most of their upcoming quality training will be indoors. Conversely, if most of their upcoming quality training will be outdoors, I have them do their TT outdoors. There’s typically a measurable difference riding indoors vs outdoors, so it makes sense to set their zones based on the riding they’ll be doing.
The entire process to ride your TT (warmup, TT and cooldown) can be done in 1 hour. Here’s how to do it:
- 5 minutes easy
- Fast pedal. 1 minute each. 95 rpm, 100, 105, 110. Followed by 1 minute Recovery Interval (RI)
- Fast pedal. 1 minute each: 100 rpm, 105, 110, 115. Followed by 1 minute RI
- 5 minutes at tempo/threshold. (First 4 minutes at a power level/effort slightly lower than expected TT effort, followed by 1 minute at planned TT effort)
- 5 minutes RI
Main Set — Time Trial:
- 30 minutes. As hard as you can possibly ride (pacing yourself properly). If you’re riding with HR only, hit your lap/interval button 10 minutes in, then use your average HR for the final 20 minutes. If you’re using a power meter, use your normalized power for the entire 30 minute effort.
Cooldown: 5 minutes (or more).
You’re done!! Congratulate yourself on a fantastic effort. A future post will provide you with zones for both HR and power. If you ride your TT in the meantime, please feel free to contact me to set your zones.
Best of luck, and please contact me with any questions.