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Daily Archives: April 15, 2017

With Cycling, if You Need Rest Days, You May be Doing It Wrong. Kinda.

38 days in a row, 1,076 miles, and we’re just starting to get into the good miles (50+ in a day).  

My average pace is between 17 and 18 mph this early in the season.  In May and June I’ll hit 19, easy.  Shedding all of the bulky clothing is worth 1 mph alone!

Now those are averages.  My fast days are closer to 22 mph, my slow days, 16.  My mediocre days are between 18 & 20 mph depending on my mood and who I’m riding with.  

Each and every day, I ride.  I only take a day off when the rain stops me.

I don’t take rest days, not because of a need to lose weight or even to ride daily.  There’s no need whatsoever. 

I ride every day because it’s fun.  I ride daily because riding makes me happy.  

I like to borrow from a phrase and modify it to say, “I’ll taper when I’m dead”.  If the pros can do it, and they can, then I can do it too, only slower.

On a bike, rest days are vastly overrated.  With running they’re almost indispensable but the question is how not why though, when pedaling to happy destiny.  It’s about having a good plan and sticking to it.  It’s about knowing, and sticking to, one simple concept; As amateurs, our easy rides aren’t easy enough and our hard rides aren’t hard enough.

I ride with a guy who is every bit as strong as I am but on most days I can wax the floor with him.  I have use of the perfect system that keeps me riding hard after more than a month straight while others struggle with two decent days in a row.

I plan my hard days out and ride easy accordingly around those days….

My friend rides willy-nilly, no planning.  When the mood strikes him, he rides hard, even if it’s the day before a planned tough ride.  If that wasn’t bad enough, and it is, he takes days off at the worst times too.

What I’ve learned over the years with cycling is that days off are just as detrimental, if not more so, than riding too hard before a big day in the saddle.  Taking a day off before a big ride is just about the worst thing I can do.  Taking a day off requires a day dedicated to spinning my legs back up just to get my legs to 100% so if I take a day off the day before a big ride, I’ll struggle the whole next day to keep up.

I find it better to ride easy before a big day than to take a day off.  Period, end of story.

Then there’s the dreaded hard ride before the hard ride.  I’d argue that the day off before the big ride is much worse than the back-to-back, but the back-to-back is bad enough if I’m not used to it.  Eventually I’ll be able to string four hard days in a row together though, by the end of the season, but I have to work up to it.

I’ll just get right to the schedule to simplify it, and also add that it’s been four years since I suffered any kind of injury that slowed me down (it didn’t stop me, just slowed me down)….

My hard ride days are Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday…  So, Monday is an easy day (15-17 mph average).  Tuesday is my fastest day (21-22 mph over 30 miles with the club).  Wednesday will me a mediocre or easy day (18-20 mph average depending on how my legs feel).  Thursday is an easy day.  Friday is mediocre and longer (17-18 mph, 30 to 40 miles).  Saturday and Sunday are hard, long rides, though we tend to take one of those long rides a little easier in the beginning of the season.

Monday comes and I do it all over again.  Two, three, four weeks in a row, it doesn’t matter.  Five weeks, even six.  I only get into distress when I try to do too much on those easy days, it’s simple as that.  

Interestingly, my wife was the only one who could get me to slow down enough to enjoy the easy days.  Going for easy rides that she could enjoy became my easy days and they’re two to three miles an hour slower than I would do on slow days a few years ago.  I truly believe it’s the slow days that made me faster.  In fact, I’m quite sure of this.  

I know this because I’ve tried every other combination I could think of eliminating the slow days.  One day off a week, two….  Nothing I could do had me feeling as good and as fresh as no days off with two or three slow days a week.

As the season wears on, and after 30 or 40 days in a row, I will take a day off for weather, even if it’s two days in a week.  When you ride as much as I do, riding in the rain isn’t all that necessary, and a day off now and again is kind of nice.  But only kinda.

Where this gets important is for those who do want to lose weight…  On a bicycle, they’ll be able to burn extra calories every day, rather than a few days a week.  Ride hard my friends.

UPDATE:  A friend pointed out in the comments section below that he has a few medical conditions that require rest days to recoup after a ride.  Because I’m a bit ignorant at times, I have a tendency to not take preexisting medical conditions into account in my posts… simply because I don’t have any.  This caveat must be taken into account.