Thursday, March 17, 2016

#10WeeksTo100 – Week 3 – Faster is as Important as Farther

Sizzling Century, Kokomo Indiana, 2013
I must admit, during my first decade of riding, preparing for centuries was all about just riding more miles. It was bicycle touring that drew me into the sport, and I never seriously pursued anything competitive beyond a few citizen races (none of which indicated I had a future in bicycle racing).

Most of my early centuries were all-day events, with lavish food and lunch stops, and long breaks off the bike. Through the early 90’s, most of these bike club events were sanctioned by the League of American Wheelmen (later to become the League of American Bicyclists), and their “standard” for a century was to complete the 100 miles in under 12 hours. (Sadly, September as National Century Month as all but disappeared from the current LAB scope of interests.)

Even after I acquired a used Raleigh Pro, a vintage (road) racing bike made in the early 70’s, (and bike #4), it was more for just riding “light” when I didn’t want to ride my fender and rack equipped touring bike. It was fun and sporting, and let me dabble in sew-ups and those few citizen races.

Shady Sag, Sizzling Century 2013
It wasn’t until my late 20’s and early 30’s that speed became a part of my distance regimen. Riding “Sub-6”, 6 hours riding or even total time became my goal for many centuries, as I also worked on less time off the bike, even riding some solo centuries non-stop.

This was at the same time I was able join fast club ride on a more regular basis, both sport group rides and race training rides. I soon realized that shorter, faster mid-week rides were allowing me to improve my endurance rides, even when they did not approach the pace of midweek fast rides.

Those short, high intensity workouts were make me stronger, and more rested than my previous “all miles, all the time” regimen. And over time, my average speed began to pick up as well, in line with the confidence and experience of riding with those faster groups.
So use your midweek rides to keep yourself more rested and prepared for your longer weekend efforts as you build up your distance. While you may have small increases in distance mid-week, a regular training loop route that is the same distance each week is ideal for your brisk ride day.

Just remember to add the speed incrementally, testing yourself and watching the overall speed. If you average speed was 14 mph in your talk test, riding to maintain 15 ½ to 16 ½ on short evening ride is fine. And you may want to return to your “test ride” loop again, working to improve from your original time for this ride.

Tips to get faster
  • Accelerate out of stop signs. Don’t just roll away, stand up and accelerate after a stop to get more quickly back up to speed.
  • Shift up and stand on the flats. When there isn’t a hill to be found, it is easy to drop into an easy pace. Shift to a higher gear, stand for 15 to 20 pedal strokes to accelerate, and the settle down at the faster pace. (This is good skill to learn for saddle pain relief too, and we will talk more about that later.)
  • Hold that effort at the top of hill. Once you crested a hill, hold that effort and use to to accelerate back up to your higher pace.
  • Use a Tailwind. Don’t just coast along, use a tailwind to learn what your bike feels like going faster.
  • Use a Headwind.  A bit more challenging, but strive to maintain your event pace into a wind.  This is just as good a riding faster!

Week 3 of the #10weeksto100. 

Continue to Week 4: Your Bike is Your Training Partner

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. That being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

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