Pre Race Season – Getting the hard work done on the bike

Before we know it the race season will be upon us. For the local ones amongst us, the A race of the year that is Parbold Duoatholon will be with us in a matter of weeks – so now is the time to get some hard work done on the bike via the lovely tool that is the turbo trainer.

The weather is a major factor at the moment for many people, especially juniors who cannot take to the road unless accompanied by adults. We all know the dangers of riding outside this time of year….cold hands….cold feet…..road rash (don’t worry there isn’t any ice, and Ive fallen on this roundabout before so it won’t happen again…..) and twisted rear mech’s. There is also the added issue that riding outside cannot always give you the right intensity for the right durations, due to traffic and undulations. So, now is the time to embrace the turbo and get some hard pre race season sessions under the belt. Now I am not saying don’t ride outside, you cant beat outside riding for developing social skills, er I mean handling skills, and longer endurance riding, as nobody wants to sit on the turbo for hours on end trying to simulate the Sunday ride do they (no need to answer, its a rhetorical point being made).

So there needs to be a purpose in riding on the turbo, and this could be to support racing by allowing you to race with less effort, and run more effectively off the bike for instance. It may also be to just get fitter so you can #smashyourclubmates come the fox n hounds, or maybe so you can keep up with the juniors without getting too out of breadth – but one thing is for sure riding the turbo is guaranteed to make you more attractive (OK OK, we do have some members who this doesn’t apply to, I can supply a list if needed 😯 ).

The first thing to do when training indoors is to establish some form of marker, or target pace. Go back a few pages and read the article I posted last year titled ‘understanding your training zones’, the ideal would be using a power meter, or at least heart rate to establish training zones, but speed and cadence will give you a baseline. Once you know this ‘threshold’, to break up the boredom consider coming along to the Turbo sessions we run on Friday nights. I plan to run these until Easter, and depending on demand I will run post this but we normally see a drop off in numbers once the racing starts. Training in a group will give you the benefit of not having to decide which session to do – I sort that out, and until Easter the focus is on developing speed and power – you’ll need a towel.

If you cannot get to the club turbo session, don’t despair, you can still turbo at home. You do need to train with purpose however, don’t just coast along watching box sets thinking your improving, as you can get a lot more bang for your time if you focus. Work on intervals around your threshold, alternate cadence from over-geared (60rpm) to fast spinning (120+), sprints and pyramid type sessions. You will find many examples on websites such as British cycling, just be mindful to use a session that delivers what you are seeking. Try and stay away from the ‘grey zone’ training, as this will give you limited training adaptation and just tire you out. One of our club athletes swears by sweet spot sessions for instance, done just below threshold, allowing the benefits of an threshold session but allowing much quicker recovery. If you are completing more than one session in the week alternate between short sharp intervals well above threshold, and longer over-geared up to 20mins each.



Finally – if you want to know how much you have improved over time, the only way is to perform the threshold test every 4-6 weeks and track how it is going. It is important to do this, not just to see improvement, but to re-set your zones to ensure you are training hard enough in each session to achieve the right adaptation. Testing isn’t the fun bit admittedly, but beating everyone at Parbold is…..

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