While surfing Facebook the other day, I came across a post from the folks at RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa — the granddaddy of all the cross-state tours) concerning training. Even though Iowa is under snow right now, the post noted it’s time to start training for the July ride.
Now, the folks in Iowa have a real disadvantage. There’s that snow I mentioned. It’ll be cold there for quite some time to come. But cycling coach David Ertl, who provides training tips for RAGBRAI riders, is right — it’s time to build up your base.
I, on the other hand, have been doing nothing but base building for several months. I’m lucky enough to be able to ride most days, even when it’s colder than I like (If I want to — sometimes, I prefer to roll over in bed and pull the covers more tightly over my head). But here we are at the beginning of March, and those base miles I’ve built up need to develop into something more.
I’m going to start by lengthening my weekend rides. The club rides I do every Sunday have been dependably in the 30-40 mile range. Now, it’s time to add some decent distance to those rides, and make them in the 35-50 mile range. I find that riding longer is the single best thing I can do to improve my cycling.
Then, lengthening the shorter rides of the week could be added in. That means more time in the saddle, and time doesn’t always cooperate. But my usual 20-mile ride on weekday evenings might have to extend to 25 miles or so. I mentioned Daylight Savings Time in the last post — that will really help with longer weekday rides.
Finally, adding in some hard riding. Last weekend, I attacked a hill that I’ve just been riding up during the winter. It left me gasping for breath. But I’ll keep working it from here on out. It takes me about three minutes to climb, and during last summer, I hit a personal best on that hill of 2:24. I’ll be working to get back to that time.
Intervals are not my favorite kind of riding, but I know from experience that they’re very helpful in building speed. I start out easy: 30 seconds all-out, followed by one minute easy pedaling. The 30 seconds will grow to a minute, then to two minutes. Once I get up to two minutes fast, two minutes easy, I’ll be where I want to be.
Does this sound like a change in riding philosophy for the Bike Noob? Maybe. But I just had yet another birthday, and I want to make sure I don’t let my age catch up to me. More rigorous training will help stave off the aging monster.
And heck, I just want to enjoy my biking. Certainly, just riding brings enjoyment. But riding well brings more enjoyment, because you can ride longer and stronger. So — let the serious spring training begin.