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Cycling: How I Train in the Winter to Maintain My 23 mph Average Come Summer


There is a short version of this post, but I’ll save that for the end.

While most folks are getting their New Year’s resolutions in order, or trying to figure out an easier softer way to meet the results they want with less work, I’m getting ready for next season. I take November through the end of December “off”. Off is in quotes because I still ride, I just don’t worry about getting out daily or average speed. I ride the mountain bikes a lot more and I just concentrate on having fun and being outside.

Come January 1st though, it’s on. I’m getting ready to hit the ground running come March. Two months is more than I need probably, but I’d rather be on the “Damn Jim, we’re just getting our Spring base miles in, slow down!” side of things…

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This obviously means time spent on the human hamster wheel, also known as the trainer.

Now, most people are going to use their normal cruising gears while sweating on the floor. Look, riding the trainer sucks, and I’m not going to offer anything in this post that will make it easier, but I look at hamster season this way: All of my friends are doing it so if I choose not to, come March I’ll be pooched.

That said, I want to show you something but before I do, a caveat. I ride on a magnetic trainer. Between a wind and a fluid trainer. On the hardest setting of three. That said, if I want to keep any semblance of fitness, this is where I live through hamster season:

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I ride that gear (if memory serves, that’s a 14) and the big 52 up front, at a 90 cadence or about 26 mph. If I want to take it easy I might take it up one gear to the 15 for a minute to rest… If I’m turning intervals it’s the hardest gear I’ve got (if I were riding my Trek I’d be 11, 12 and 13 with the big 52 up front).

The point is, there are only two times that the easier gears on the trainer are acceptable: Between intervals and on easy, recovery days.

Point is folks, there is a method to the madness. The pain and subsequent rubber-legs are temporary. It feels good the rest of the day. Also, riding on a trainer is way easier than riding outside so I push the hardest gears I can smoothly operate. The 13 and 14 tooth gears are just hard enough to keep me in shape for the coming season so come March, all I’ll need is a few weeks to go from a 30 to 60 mile ride, comfortably.

This is the only way I know to keep from going soft and riding to the best of my capability and willingness is always about trying to be willing to push a little harder.

So, the short version?  Train harder in the winter than you will in the spring, just for shorter periods of time.

If you were expecting a puff piece with ten little tidbits that amount to peanuts and that you would forget by tomorrow anyway, sorry. This is a post on a no fluffy crap blog.

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