For many cyclists, weekends are the best (and sometimes the only) days to get in their key rides. And that fits in just fine with my philosophy of a minimum of 3 key rides for the week:
- High intensity, but shorter (VO2 Max-level) intervals.
- Longer threshold level intervals.
- Long aerobic ride.
Assuming you’ve gotten in your intervals during the week, at least 1 of your long rides this weekend should be a focused endurance-level aerobic ride. One way of making sure your training is continuing to move forward is to accomplish the following 3 goals this weekend:
- Your long ride must be long enough to induce training stress (fatigue) on your body. The duration of this ride will be different for everyone, based on typical weekly training volume, level of conditioning, time available, etc. A good starting point is to ride at least 50% longer than your average weekly ride. For example, if your normal weekly ride is 1 hour, have your long ride at least 1.5 hours. Then add 10-20% each week as you continue to build your resistance to fatigue.
- Set a goal of riding 1/2 of your long ride at your goal event pace (or the upper end of your aerobic range, which is about 20 beats below your threshold heart rate or 70-75% of your threshold wattage if you train with power). If you’re planning to ride a 50-100 mile event this spring, you’ll likely ride at an endurance/aerobic level. So build your endurance by riding significant chunks of time
(without stopping) at this upper endurance level.
- Practice your nutrition. Keeping your body fueled during a long ride/race/event is critically important. If you’ve ever run out of fuel and “bonked” you know just how important it is. Everybody requires a different number of calories per hour. While there are general guidelines for calorie consumption, the best way for you to learn what you need and the types of foods that work for you is to experiment. Starting today.
First of all, you probably don’t need additional calories (food/sports drink) on a ride of less than 60-90 minutes, assuming you’re not hungry as you begin your ride. Our bodies store enough carbohydrates to get us through approximately 90 minutes of work. If you plan to ride longer than 90 minutes however, you should plan to take on additional calories (primarily liquid calories in the form of a sports drink).
A good starting point is to ingest 250 carbohydrate calories per hour. In a ride of less than 2-3 hours, this should be taken in liquid form, as liquids are much more easily absorbed into our systems than are solids.
I end up eating about 400 calories per hour in my longer events. So if you start at 250/hour adjust from there based on how you feel over time, how you feel when you finish and how your stomach handles the nutrition you’ve taken in.
I tell the athletes I coach to start experimenting immediately, and continue to tweak on every long ride. You want to be totally dialed in for your key long race/event. Make all your mistakes training, not on race day.
I’m still in Palm Desert logging miles and climbing. Yesterday my friend Jerry Anderson took me on a ride that first climbed at a shallow but steady grade for nearly 20 miles. We then turned into the mountains for a 7 mile climb at a 5-6% grade. I did 2 repeats of the 7 mile climb, then finished up with 2 x 1 mile climbs. I’m not sure how many thousands of feet I climbed, but I climbed for nearly 40 miles. Thanks Jerry!
As always, contact me with your questions. Be sure to add your comments below, then GET OUT AND RIDE!