The weather is getting colder, the race session is over and the days are getting shorter. For many riders this means the bike gets a clean and goes into hibernation till the new year’s resolution kicks in. However, getting fitter and faster next year doesn’t start in January it starts now! By adding some structure to your winter riding gives you the motivation to go and ride even when the weather is a bit grim, improves your fitness with specific goals to focus on and means you get more from a shorter time on the bike. If you put the work in over the winter when the summer returns next year you will be able to hit the trails or road at full force and really enjoy riding without having to worry about that big climb out of the car park! Although it does help to have a coach for many riders this isn’t an option so here are a few of our hints and tips to add structure to your rides and turn them into training rides.
This is an article in itself, in short using data is the key to getting the most benefit from your training. Data recording equipment is great but not cheap so with this in mind and as this is a beginner’s guide to training, use the RPE scale to gauge your intensity to start off with. In addition to this use Strava or Garmin to record your route. By recording your route, it will give you a time and distance that you can go back to on future rides to see progress and use as a reference guide.
The RPE scale stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion and is rated from 1 to 10. 1 is equivalent to resting and 10 is working flat out. It is a simple method that does not rely on you having cadence, power or heart rate sensors as long as you are honest with yourself about how hard you are trying.
A simple and effective way to turn a simple spin into an effective workout. This can be done over any terrain on any ride from your daily commute to riding your favourite trail at weekend.
To start off with spend five minutes warming up and getting to an RPE level of 6. At level 6 you should still be able to talk but be slightly out of breath and sweating.
Now you’re ready for the fun to start, increase your effort to level 9 and hold it at this level for 1 min. After a min ease off to a RPE level of 6 and hold it there for 3 min. This is your first interval, repeat this 20 min to start off with (this is 5 intervals if you want to work it out that way instead). After this gently spin for 10 min to cool down at an RPE level of 5 or below. As you get fitter aim to increase the number of intervals you do and reduce your recovery time in between sets.
Eddie Merckx once said, “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades”!
In short this is a very simple and effective way to get stronger on the bike and improve your aerobic fitness. Riding at a steady pace use your time on the flat and descents to recover at an RPE level of 5 to 6 then, when you encounter a hill, ramp up the effort to and RPE level of 8 or above and attack, attack, attack! On short hills get out of the saddle and sprint up them. On the longer climbs try and stay seated for 75% of the climb concentrating on maintaining a constant cadence then get out the saddle and sprint the last 25%. Once you reach the top slow the pace to recover but keep rolling.
Skills and Drills
Not all training has to put you in the hurt locker. It is easy to fixate on getting fitter and chasing Strava segments but the ability to ride smooth is an equally important skill to master in order to get quicker. Dedicate a ride to essentially playing on your bike. Practice those fundamental skills like body position, cornering and riding technical sections. Use this ride to session sections of trail a few times and don’t be afraid to try different lines. This kind of session is also very fun and remind you why your riding your bike!
Circuits are a way to get the most out of a short ride and acts as a great way to simulate a race environment. For mountain bike cross country choose a route 4 to 6km long with a few climbs, descents and technical sections in it. To start off with ride it once at a warm up pace to know what is around the corner and then go flat out at a race pace for two laps. As your training progresses increase this to four laps. Circuits are also a very effective way of monitoring improvement by comparing times as the aim should be to have a similar time each lap.
So there you go a few hints and bits of advice to motivate you to keep riding this winter and get stronger, fitter and faster for next year. All that is left to say is go ride, train and enjoy!
Hopefully this article has given you a starting point from which to build a winter training plan. However, if you would like to develop a more specific and structured plan to help you achieve you own personal goals contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for professional, friendly and personalised training advice and coaching. Alternatively visit our website at www.tscycling.com for our full range of services, DIY training plans, coaching seasons and information on our group winter training rides.
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