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Cycling and Speed; A 22 Mph Average is a Commitment and Reachable.  In a Winter.  On a Trainer.

I’m came up with this topic, and began writing the post, atop my steed, on my trainer, pushing the second hardest gear (52/12) in the hardest setting (7) on my trainer.  I started the 45 minute session in third hardest (52/13).  A person commented on one of my posts yesterday, and it got me thinking about being as fast as I want to be.

I’ve got a towel on my handlebar to mop up the sweat in between sentences and scenes from Mission Impossible:  Rogue Nation.  You can have your Zwift.  Give me a good movie and 45 minutes and I’m a happy guy.

Last year, when I came up with my off-season plan, I could only muster a few minutes in 52/13.  I’d have to spend much of the ride in 52/15 and shift up to the harder gear in intervals.  Before the end of the winter I was spending most of my time in 52/12 and dabbling in the sacred 52/11.  The week before March I was spinning in 52/11…

When the new season hit I was more than ready.  I was stronger than I’d ever been going into a season and I had fun with it – all season long.  I’ve managed to maintain that fitness to where I don’t have to take the time to work up to the harder gears this year.  So next year, as long as I remain committed, I can enter the season even stronger.

Going fast is, and always has been, a commitment.  I have been willing to work hard enough to be pretty fast.  I also have to keep this in perspective – the A guys in our group are a lot faster than I am… I’m simply not willing to push hard enough to be that fast.  I could be that fast but for the willingness.  A friend of mine put it best after completing a 4:15 minute century this summer:  “I just rode a hundred miles and I didn’t enjoy one of them”.  I ride a hundred and don’t enjoy five.  Maybe.

The key to cycling at a 20+ mph pace is being able to push on the pedals hard enough.  If you’re waiting for a magic pedalstroke or better, a magic bike to get you there, it’s not going to happen.  Well, if you pick up an eBike….  Let’s not get too deep into the weeds though.

The key to pushing harder on the pedals is to force yourself to actually push harder on the pedals – and this is the commitment because pushing harder hurts.  This is where most people get lost and where the winter trainer season is the perfect place to begin.

On most trainers, smart trainers excluded because they offer up to 2,000 watts of resistance (I’m just talking about the cheaper turbo trainers – mag and wind) if you can use the hardest setting and ride in the three hardest gears in the back (with the big chain ring up front), you can build up the fitness over a winter off-season to be fast enough come Spring to hang with the 20 mph crowd.

I’ve got a Giant Cyclotron ($160-$180) and that provides enough resistance that I can not only keep up with my group in March, I can spend a good deal of time up front.

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There are limits, of course.  If one is overweight, a winter on the trainer won’t fix that and extra weight always has an adverse affect on speed (a season on the bike and some excellent eating habits will probably do the trick though).  Speed also doesn’t accommodate “cheating” very well.  If one were to challenge oneself once a week, that won’t bode well.  Once a week isn’t enough.  It’s a nice start, but we’re talking about three hard days a week – it’s a full commitment, not half.  In fact, I was going to get into the HGH doping topic as well, but let’s face it, if you’re not willing to work hard enough to make doping work, well we needn’t consider it.  The main point is, you either have the willingness or you don’t.  Don’t be ashamed that you don’t, but do be honest about it.

If you truly have a desire to get faster, it just takes a little commitment, and a whole lot of pushing on the pedals.  There’s no better time than right now to start.