The small ring ride

Whenever you look up training information for bike riders, the training schedules always work in easy days with harder effort days.  Because of my spotty riding schedule, I don’t find the need for many “easy” days, since I’m usually taking a day or two off between rides anyway.  But this week, I’ve been on the bike a lot, and the other day, I thought an “easy” day would be just the ticket.

I headed for the Veloway, which is where I ride at least twice a week.  My typical ride there involves attacking some spots, especially the slight grades at two or three places on the course.  But this time, I decided not to attack.  In fact, I decided to do something I’ve done only a time or two before: to ride the entire day in the small chain ring.

But I wasn’t going to be lazy about it.  Although I was in the easy ring, I kept up a quick pedaling cadence — about 90 rpm.  My speed was still decent, but I was determined not to concentrate on speed.

Instead, I concentrated on form, pedaling in a circle, and maintaining my cadence.  In all, I did four laps of the Veloway.  Coupled with the ride to and from, it was an 18-mile day.

And it was also a day I’ll be repeating often in the future.  I never felt like I was slacking.  Although several riders passed me, I passed several other riders.  My average speed at the end of the ride came out to 15.5 miles per hour.  Not bad, and not far off from my average when I pound the Veloway in the big ring. 

When the ride was over, I felt refreshed, rather than tired.  I tackled some minor chores around the house, and didn’t fall asleep in front of the TV that night.

Easy days are often portrayed as “recovery” days, a break from the hard effort rides.  But I look at rides like this one as more than simply recovery — especially since I had not ridden the previous day.  It added to my base mileage and improved my form.  Both of these are factors that will help me improve my overall cycling efforts.  Try a ride in just the small ring — I think you’ll like the results.


  1. says

    It’s a useful lesson to learn – I’m only a casual cyclist but used to always strive to haul the largest cogs I could. As a result my thigh muscles developed very well, but my knees couldn’t cope. Nowadays I’m less ambitious, preferring to spin rather than slog.

    Bloody knees still need the odd day off the recover though, and I’m only clocking up a few local miles per day 😉

  2. says

    Years ago I read a training tip that I faithfully adopted – don’t even think about riding on the large chainring until you’ve built up at least 500 base miles. It’s worked well for me with my knee problems and pretty much led to developing a high cadence cycling style. These days I limit my use of the large ring to the 2nd half of the riding season…and even then only on select stretches of flat road. Spinning simply works for me so I stay with it!

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