Guest poster Don Blount has been working on improving his biking.
Ask any serious cyclist how to improve and that will likely be the essence of the answer you will receive.
It makes sense, as to improve at anything you have to spend time doing it.
However, I would qualify that statement by saying that to improve as a cyclist you have to spend quality time on the bike.
I worked hard at that last year in my attempt to become a better overall rider and to become a better climber
Now I doubt I will ever be a climber others will look up to, neither my body type nor skill set is made for climbing. (That is a topic for another post.) However, given those limiters, I want to become as proficient as possible.
Although it is early in the year and I only have a bit over 500 miles through mid-February, I am in better shape now than I have been at this point during the past five years I have been riding.
I would attribute that to riding more purposefully both this year and last.
I am not regimentally structured but I make sure to work in a variety of rides – fartlek (random change of pace), intervals, long rides, tempo rides, hills and recovery rides. I even scheduled a late February metric century, something that I would have never considered in the past. But I realize that organized rides are good landmarks and motivators for me as I am less likely to lag through my training when I have a ride scheduled.
In retrospect, I do not think I was solely riding junk miles but I was not working in a manner to help myself improve. And when I saw that if I hurt more during my solo rides that I would hurt less on group rides or in the hills, then follow through became easy.
Does this mean that a rider should go out and beat him or herself up at every opportunity? Of course not. It means look at your goals and then set up your training so that you can reach them. Whether you want to be able to ride 30-flat miles (48 kilometers) in two hours or do100 miles (160 kilometers) with lots of climbing.
As you get stronger, you will enjoy hearing someone say to you: “Wow, you are sure riding strong today.”
Agree 100%. I’ve been on a similar “mission” last year and particularly this winter during which I’m doing lots of weight work and trainer time. But this winter, instead of enduring 30 min. or an hour of boring trainer riding with no other purpose than to put in the minutes, I’m working diligently on my pedal stroke, riding intervals, forcing myself to ride at higher resistance levels, and generally working to get stronger and faster. I’m more than curious to experience the results once the weather breaks here in Illinois.
Bike Noob says
Let us know how that works out.
Agree that when counting miles, it is not just about quantity, but also quality. I’m of the opinion that climbing is one of the most rewarding cycling activities, and is a terrific way to improve fitness.