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Daily Archives: November 23, 2016

Cycling, and How I Will get Faster Over the Winter… On a Trainer.

Notice, please, that I didn’t use the word “intend” or “plan” or “think I can” in the Title?  While this isn’t a foregone conclusion, as I still have to put in the saddle time, I have already started on the path….

I bought a turbo from a buddy of mine who had no use for it, expecting the same old results from winter training – maintenance of fitness.  A beautiful Giant Cyclotron Mag II, for $40 (they retail for $180) with seven resistance settings that can be controlled by a dial that clips to the bar top.

It’s the quietest trainer I’ve ever used, but also the hardest to get the pedals around on.  As you might expect if you’ve read anything I’ve written about cycling, I’ve got mine set on the hardest setting….  It’s not even marked as 7, it’s H.  

I noticed the first time I rode on it, maybe two or three weeks ago, that this wasn’t my old Blackburn Track stand.  The Giant elicited a burn in my quads that I hadn’t felt since Day 2 of DALMAC… and that burn came on pretty quick too, maybe two minutes into my 45 minute session.  

I kept it up for a few minutes with my gear selection at 52/13, about 28 mph.  I downshifted a gear and 24-1/2 was a bit more reasonable.  I still went back to the 13 cog every once in a while.  I was intrigued because that felt a lot like 23 or 24 on the road… certainly that can’t be, I thought.

I spent a few days on the trainer, between rain, cold and a 5:30 sunset.  When the weekend rolled around I felt spectacular and was able to spend quite a bit of time up front.  That was followed by another few days on the trainer, all the while increasing the time I spent in the higher gears.  I even dabbled in the 12 for a bit.  

When Friday rolled around, our last true hooky-worthy day of the year with the temperature expected to top 72 degrees, we had a great group of hooky players show up to ride at 9 am.

I spent a ton of time up front while we battled the wind heading out and it was rough…. but something unexpected happened in those first ten miles.  I didn’t suffer like I normally do trying to hold 19 or 20 into a stiff headwind.  When we headed back toward home and finally got a bit of tailwind, I was energized.  

This was exactly opposite late autumn last year.

We finished the ride with only 32 miles but I could have easily doubled that.  Subsequent outdoor rides have produced similar results, I’m happy to report.

Last night I came up with a fantastic trainer workout as I was watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the 23rd time, almost by accident.  I shifted to the 13 tooth cog and gave that a go for ten minutes…. I know, most people warm up first.  I’ve never been much of a fan.  After that ten minutes my legs were burning quite well and I downshifted one gear and held that between 90 and 100 rpm.  I figured that was good enough and I’d just spin the rest of my workout right there.

My breathing normalized and my legs started to feel better at the 5 minute mark.  Then the cogs in my melon started turning…  At the 10 minute mark, I shifted to the 13 again, figuring I’d hold that for five minutes.  I went ten instead.  Another downshift to the 15 tooth cog (it’s a 9 sp. on the Trek) and ten more minutes in the easy gear…  I figured I’d do the last five minutes as a cool down… but when I got to the last five seconds I changed my mind.  I shifted to the 13 and did the last five minutes in the harder gear.

When I got off the bike, I could feel it in my legs, more than if I’d have ridden 25 miles outdoors…. in 45 minutes.

And I still have the 12 and 11 cogs to go…

This aggressive workout plan won’t be easy to stick with over the winter.  I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve historically shaded more toward sustaining some level of cycling fitness rather than building through the winter.  It’s a long season (between 9 and 10 months depending on how willing I am to ride in sub-freezing temperatures) and I typically look at winter as my time off, even though I still put in 45 minutes a day, five days a week on the trainer.

On the other hand, if I can build on the guns through the winter while everyone else is maintaining, why not?  Oh, that’ll make for a fun time next year!  

My lesson learned here is that all trainers are not created equal.  While my Blackburn did the job of keeping me at a good level of fitness going into last Spring, I would have been mistaken to hope I could get stronger on that trainer.

Well, that and I’m willing to throw rest under the bus if it means even the hope of hanging with the racers on Tuesday night next year…. and I was close to that at the end of this season.  With just a little more ass and “want to”, who knows.