The goal of the advanced club ride, at least as I’ve experienced, is to either prep for racing or to ride ridiculously hard for a couple of hours – I’m the latter. Our Tuesday night club ride is an “Everyone Gets Dropped” ride. We start out the 33 mile ride in a group ranging from 20 all the way up to 40 cyclists in a double pace-line. The lead group is down to 5 or 10 max by the last couple of miles. By the time we get to the finish line, the one time I made it, there were only three of us. I won the sprint.
Riding like this, especially if you’re one of the weaker horses (like I am), isn’t easy but it is fun.
This past year was only my second riding with the club. Last off-season I worked pretty hard on the trainer hoping that I would be in better shape going into the beginning of the season than most of the other guys. I was mistaken – they worked harder than I did and I ended up having to play catch up when I thought I’d be tearing more than a few of them up.
This off-season I’m implementing a newly designed workout that mimics the on-again off-again see-saw of an actual club ride. It’s actually a hybrid of an interval workout. The difficult part of a club ride (again, at least for me) is the transition from pulling at the front to fading and latching on at the back. What happens is this: As I move up the line, the draft weakens and it becomes harder to pedal. Once up front, I’m pulling for a mile (2:15-3:00 minutes depending on the wind direction) with no protection and at speeds of up to 27 mph on the flat, I get worn out. If I pull too long up front I don’t have enough in the tank to latch back on at the end… Unfortunately, the best way to get faster overall is to pull just a little longer than I’m comfortable with. All too often I’ve missed the latch-on because I don’t have enough in the tank to speed back up to get into the draft.
This leaves two options: I can simply pull off a little earlier while I’ve still got a little left (I don’t like this) or work all winter long on recovering in the 20 seconds I’ve got while I’m drifting back to latch on – with a modified interval workout.
So here’s how this looks over a 50 minute workout on my Mag Trainer (hardest of three settings):
1 minute warm-up (I’ve never been big on warming up).
10 minutes 90 cadence 52/14 (26 mph)
5 minutes 90 cadence 52/13 (28 mph)
3 minutes 110-120 cadence 52/12 (36+ mph)
15 seconds soft pedal
1 minute 110 cadence 52/12 (35 mph)
Rinse and repeat. Twice. I cut the 10 minutes down to 5 on the last two. Cool down last two minutes.
The idea is no different that your standard 1 minute on, one minute off interval workout except the plan above is closer to what really happens in a group ride… The important thing is that that last minute before the rinse-repeat is a real ass kicker. I was absolutely cooked after doing it through my lunch hour today.