Usually the Saturday group ride is a race simulation for me, but last week I was just looking for a moderate training day, and I went with a different goal and strategy in mind.
How often do you tackle a normal ride in a different way? In the past I’ve recommended mixing things up and doing a new and different ride, but there’s another way to add some variety to your cycling life. In all the groups rides I’ve ever done regularly, all the regulars ride the same way, week in and week out.
If you’re a sprinter, odds are you play the game looking for a sprint. If you’re a climber, you probably relish dropping the hammer on the hills. It’s been said that doing the same thing, and expecting a different result, is insanity. If you’re winning every race, then by all means, keep training the same way. Maybe the sprinters out there need to hammer themselves on the hills on Saturday to be able to make the break come race day. Maybe the climbers need to work on their sprint so when they get into a break, they don’t get last in the break.
Having the legs and lungs to win is one thing, having the perspicacity to win is another thing entirely. What do you learn by doing the same thing each week; playing the game the same way? What could you learn; what would you see if you tried it a different way? Maybe you get some insight that helps you play the game better when it matters.
Use Your Gears
I can’t help but laugh when I hear people say silly things like “I never use my small ring because I live in Texas” “I’m too fast for a compact crank,” or “you can’t compete with junior gears.” Why do I bring this up? Well the guy that did the entire ride in his 53×11 made me laugh. Seriously, what’s the point? The gears are on your bike for a reason – use them! We all have a range of cadences where we are comfortable and effective. Work on widening that range in training, but use your gears to stay in that range for group rides and races.
Before anybody gets offended and starts writing me letters, let me offer the following data from my Garmin for the ride in question. The meat of the ride, excluding warm up and cool down, was a little over 2 hours, our average speed was 22.1mph, and my average cadence was 91rpm. No big deal, right? No big chain ring either; that was done in the 39.
Steen Rose is the owner and Head Coach of Athletes On Track and an Elite Coach for Training Bible Coaching. He has been competing in cycling and multisport events for 16 years with 13 state titles and 3 national medals to his name. He has been coaching since 2003 and works with all ages and abilities of athletes locally, nationally, and abroad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org