It’s time to prepare for all the fantastic summer rides offered in Colorado like the SOS River Ride event fundraiser.
We have created cycling training tips that will have you pedaling up the mountain passes in no time. These tips were created by Jennifer Sage the indoor cycling professional at the Vail Vitality Center.
It can be depressing to pull out the bike every year and struggle through our first month of riding. Unless you’ve been diligently attending properly periodized indoor cycling classes the past few months, you’re not going to be ready to turn those pedals with any power. Alpine skiing does nothing to keep the cardiovascular system prepared for the rigors of cycling, and making turns on the mountain is a very different use of your muscles than turning the cranks.
Here are some cycling training tips to keep in mind that will have you pedaling up the passes in no time!
First of all, before your first ride, make sure your bike is in good working order. Have it tuned up by your local bike shop, and carefully check the tires and brakes for wear. If you haven’t had yourself set up by a professional, and you want this to be your best cycling year ever, consider investing in a professional fit. As a result, you may discover that you are much more comfortable on your bike and can put out more power. That translates to greater endurance, improved performance and enjoying your rides much more!
The best advice I can give is to start easy. To many of the hard-core athlete-types in this valley, it’s so tempting to try to ride yourself into shape by going hard in the first few weeks, forcing yourself up Vail Pass or Bachelor Gulch right from the start. But you will be better off if you treat your body with respect, understanding that it takes some time for the body to adapt and change.
• Start with a 60-minute ride, and then gradually, progressively add more time to each ride.
• Begin by riding on the flats or gentler climbs at an intensity in which you are conversational. Give yourself 3-4 weeks before pushing yourself to the point of breathless.
• Select higher cadences as much as possible. Practice pedaling on the flats at cadences of 85-100 rpm. Higher cadences cause less muscular fatigue because they use less muscle force per pedal revolution and generally use your more aerobic (slow twitch) muscle fibers.
Slower cadences with higher gears use anaerobic (fast twitch) muscle fibers. In the earlier stages of your training, it is the aerobic muscle fibers that you want to develop. Also, higher cadences are generally more efficient. If you are not used to pedaling at higher cadences, you will feel like you are winded, so only increase your average cadence by 5-10 rpm. Don’t try to jump up 20 rpm right away.
After you have increased the length of time on your bike, you can begin to increase the intensity and challenge. The best way to do this is interval training, or “hill-repeats”. Find a hill that takes you about 5-8 minutes to climb (or mark off a segment of a longer climb).
In Vail, my favorite climb for hill repeats is Spraddle Creek. Time how long it takes you to go from point A to point B. Start with 2-3 ascents at an intensity level of challenging but sustainable, increasing to 4-6 after a few weeks. These higher intensity workouts don’t need to be very long; warm-up on the flats for 10 to 15 minutes, do your repeats, then cool down and end your training session. That’s all! It’s a great quick workout to fit in after work.
The beauty of doing the same repeats is that it becomes a benchmark for you throughout the summer, as well as from year to year. You time and how you feel will tell you when your training is working for you, when it might need a little tweaking, and when you are in need some rest. Try to fit your hill repeats in once per week, or at least 2-3 times per month, even throughout the season.
A general rule of thumb for training is to alternate harder days with easier days, allowing your body to recover sufficiently for the next hard workout. Insufficient recovery is the biggest contributor to plateaus in one’s fitness, as well as potential injury and prolonged fatigue. Active recovery can come in the form of an easy 30-45 minute ride or a fast walk.
Weekends are perfect for longer rides, especially if you are training for a century ride or other long event. By late May, you should be putting in a 2-3 hour ride at least once a week.
If you are interested learning more please contact us at 970-476-7960.
Related blog posts on Cycling