Hey there RYPEness!!
Happy Thursday to ya! Who out there really feels like a snail when riding with certain groups? If you are like me, there is nothing more intimidating than to join up with a few cycling enthusiast to take on a nice morning ride, and at mile 5 you are so out of breath because you can’t seem to keep up with that 18mph pace! And its not like its something you dont want to do…you just CANT! Well, the only way to get better is to train better. I was reading my digest from Active.com and they listed some really good tips for boosting your average MPH, so I thought I would share….and maybe you can hold me accountable for actually executing these on a regular basis!
You may not have noticed that you coast a lot. Some riders get into the habit of coasting for a good percentage of any ride. If you’re spending a lot of time coasting, you’re not building the fitness necessary to keep high average speeds for low metabolic cost.
As an experiment, ride a mostly flat course that has no stop signs and very little traffic. Aim to put power to the pedals continuously for 30 minutes. Keep the pressure on the pedals light so your effort remains aerobic; but keep your legs moving and feel that you are generating power with each pedal stroke. If 30 minutes is easy, aim for 60 minutes.
I suspect some of you will find that you are spending more time coasting and not generating any power than you realize.
Ride a Rolling Course
After practicing the skill of keeping pressure on the pedals on a flat course, it’s time to take that skill to the hills. Find a rolling course that has few stops and distractions. After your warmup, ride for 30 to 60 minutes at a steady, aerobic effort, keeping force on the pedals all the time.
This workout requires that you play with the gears on your bike to figure out what gear combination allows you to keep force on the pedals 100 percent of the time. Yes, that means on the downhill portions too.
For this workout you’ll need a heart rate monitor. Find a hill that takes you some 3 to 5 minutes to climb. Note a start and stop line for hill repeats. The goal of the workout is to find the gear combination that gives you the fastest time on the hill climb without exceeding the top of the aerobic zone (Zone 2) on your heart rate monitor. Get full recovery between each climb, spinning easy for some 3 to 5 minutes before beginning the next climb.
Isolated Leg Training (ILT) Indoors
Many cyclists do ILT work in the winter and on an indoor trainer. The workout helps reduce or eliminate any dead spots out of your pedal stroke. One common workout example is to do a warm-up, then with light resistance on an indoor trainer, do 100 percent of the work with one leg while the other leg is resting on a stool.
The bottom of the stroke is similar to the motion of scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe. The top of the stroke can be improved by driving your toes and knees forward. In all positions, keep your toes relaxed. Do not allow them to curl up and clinch the bottom of your shoe. The aim is to be smooth and keep power applied during as much of each revolution as possible.
Begin with 20 or 30 seconds per leg and build up to 60 seconds per leg. After doing one set with each leg, spin with both legs for some 2 to 4 minutes before starting the ILT work again.
Start with a cumulative time of 3 to 5 minutes on each leg within the workout and build time as you become stronger. Be sure to stop pedaling and change legs or spin with both legs when your form becomes sloppy or jerky. Do not worry about achieving any particular heart rate–smooth pedaling form is most important.
Once you’re efficiently making smooth circles on the trainer in a normal setup, you can put blocks under your front wheel to simulate hill climbing. Build the time you are able to complete ILT drills on hills.
ILT Work Outdoors
After achieving good form doing ILT work on an indoor trainer, move outdoors to a flat course. One method of doing ILT work outdoors is by relaxing and unweighting one leg while the other leg does 90 percent of the work. (The unweighted leg stays clipped in.)
A second method is to pull the non-working leg out of the pedal and allow it to hang about 6 to 12 inches away from the bike. In either case, use a gear combination that allows you to keep force on the pedal for the majority of the pedal stroke.
Be sure to change legs when fatigue sets in, or set a specific time interval to prevent excess fatigue. Again, correct form is most important. Similar to doing the drill indoors, work your way up to an interval of 30 to 60 seconds per leg. After doing a work segment with each leg, spin easy with both legs for a minute or two and then return to single leg work.
Finally, when you’ve achieved what you consider to be a good skill level at ILT work on a flat course, try the drill on a slight uphill. Of course it is most challenging when the non-working leg is removed from the pedal.
Why Do ILT Work on Hills?
At least one study concluded that cycling uphill decreases gross efficiency and is associated with changes in pedaling technique. If you train your legs to be as efficient as possible going uphill, of course it only helps your cause of increasing speed.
By practicing good pedaling technique and making a conscious effort to keep power to the pedals, I’m willing to bet your overall cycling speed will begin to increase. With foundation skills nailed, you can begin adjusting volume and intensity to make even more gains.
So there ya have it! My goal is to get in a hill repeat workout at least once a week. My challenge is going to be getting on my trainer for those isolated leg trainings….YUK. But hey, you have to do what you have to do to get where you want to be, right? Right!
Oh…on last thing: Do NOT forget to moisturize. Crossing the finish line with ashy lips is a no-no!
Hyped 2b RYPE!!