Summer’s here, the season with some of the year's best riding. Whether you’re planning on completing a century, entering your first race or taking a long tour with friends, now's the perfect time to begin preparing.
To help, we offer our six-week training program. Follow it and you'll experience the ride of your life!
Note: Do not attempt this program unless you've been riding and know you're reasonably fit.
During the first week of training, you build base fitness for the longer and more intense rides in weeks to come. A strong aerobic base enables you to pedal longer distances and recover more quickly between tough rides. Get on your bike six days this week and alternate between long and short rides. A “Long” day is approximately an hour shorter than your longest planned summer event. Therefore, if you intend to complete a long 3-hour event or race this summer, ride for 2 hours on a “Long” day. A “Short” day is an hour or less.
After a week of regular riding, you’re getting into a groove and feeling comfortable on the bike. This week add some time on two of your “Long” rides. We’ll call these “X-tra Long” workouts. These two rides should be as long or a half-hour longer than your longest planned summer ride. Therefore, if your longest summer ride will be 3 hours, an “X-tra Long” ride should be 3-and-a-half to 4-hours long.
Now that you’ve built a solid base, it's time to turn up the intensity with "intervals." These are short, intense efforts that build strength and speed so you're able to push a bigger gear and ride faster on the big day. Monday’s ride is a “Short” ride for complete recovery from last week’s big rides. You should feel fresh for your first intense day. The first intervals we recommend are “AT” intervals. AT is short for anaerobic threshold. This is the pace when your legs start to burn, but you’re still able to hold the pace for 10 to 20 minutes. After a 20-minute warm-up, complete four 15-minute “AT” intervals with a 10-minute easy recovery spin between each. Follow each “AT” interval day with a “Long” ride, then a day off. Repeat this block after your day off.
This is your most challenging training week yet, but after three steady weeks of training you’re ready for it. You'll be doing “Super AT” intervals. These intense efforts feel harder and much more intense than last week’s intervals, yet they're much shorter. On Monday, your first “Super AT” day, begin with a 20-minute warm-up followed by four, 5-minute “AT” intervals with a 5-minute easy recovery spin between each. Be sure to cool down with an easy 20-minute spin after the intervals are completed. On the following day do the same workout, but reduce each “Super AT” interval to 3-minutes. The warm-up, between-interval rest and cool down should be the same length as on Monday. The next day should be an “X-tra Long” ride at an easy pace, followed by a day off. Repeat this cycle at the tail end of the week.
With four weeks of quality training in your legs, it’s time for a well-deserved break. This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch letting all that hard-earned fitness get sucked into the television! It means you can cut back on ride intensity and duration for the week. After two complete rest days following your last interval day, get back on the bike for an easy “Short” ride followed by an easy “Long” ride. Repeat this cycle after a day off.
The big day's almost here and you’re primed and ready to show off your awesome fitness. All that’s left is fine-tuning your engine. After a day off, do some “Pre-Race” (PR) intervals. These should be intense enough to get your juices flowing, but not too taxing on the legs or lungs. After a 20-minute warm-up, ride at your “AT” interval pace for 3-minutes, then do an all-out sprint for 30 seconds. Follow this effort with a 5-minute rest and repeat the cycle 4 times. Finish the ride with a 30-minute cool down. This workout might not feel like much, but it will have your motor humming in a few days. Wednesday, do a "Short" recovery ride, followed by a day off. The day preceding your big event, ride for an hour and a half. During this ride, do a 15-minute warm-up, then complete one 10-minute “AT” internal, spin easy for 10 minutes, then complete two, 2-minute "Super AT" intervals with a 5-minute rest in-between. Spin at an easy pace for the rest of the ride.
The Big Day!
Chances are you’ll be nervous before the start of your event. But unlike most of your peers, you can calm this anxiety by thinking about the work you've done. Your training and preparation ensures that you'll have the most successful day on the bike ever!