The best bit of advice you will ever receive about road bike training is ride your bike! Photo by Dave Amirault / flickr
There is more to it than that of course, but when it comes to training for road cycling the more bike riding you can do the better.
You need to start somewhere with all sports and with road cycle training that means getting the miles under your belt, then when you have a good foundation of base distance training you can move on to the more specialized training methods.
Let’s go through what you have to do from the very start.
This sounds easy, but it’s not just going out and riding your bike, well it is, but there is much more to it than that.
First you must start by riding a hour and if you are feeling good maybe two, this must be done at a brisk pace, hard enough that you feel your breathing but can still talk to your training partners, this would be around the 70% of maximum heart rate if you are using a heart rate monitor and/or training solo.
When you feel that you can complete one and two hour rides without too much problem it is now time to step it up, go for two to three hour rides and when that seems easy ramp it up again to three to four hours.
Most of this can be done by yourself or with a small group of riders of a similar fitness or who want to follow the same schedule and are not interested in ripping it up.
At this point in your road bike training program you could relieve the boredom of solo riding by going out with a big group on Saturday or Sunday, this is good for a few reasons.
First it gets you used to being in a big bunch and learning group etiquette also some of the riders you will be training with you will probably be racing against at a later date, so you can observe them at close quarters.
With a big group you tend to ride further and longer with possibly a stop at half way, with a group the pace tends to change every time a new rider goes to the front, this is good as long as the ride doesn’t turn into a race, this is not what you want at this point in your road bike training schedule.
The draw back with long ride big bunch training is that you should ride at the pace of the others and this can be too slow or not hard enough for you to improve.
Remember that the area you live in makes a difference to how long you will be training, if you live in a flat area then the riding is easier than if you live in a very mountainous region. The weather must also be taken into consideration as this will affect how much you can do if it is too hot or too cold.
When you have achieved regular four to five hour rides or longer in a group ride then you might be fit enough to start a more serious, more specialized phase in your training.
- Specialized Training: To improve your speed, climbing, sprinting or time trialing you must concentrate on these points, but more power will help in all of these so that is your first priority. To do interval training properly you should use a heart rate monitor so that you know exactly how your body is reacting to the training. There are many different methods of interval training, here are some of them:
- Power Training: Pick a hill that is rideable at a high tempo on a big gear and do as many intervals on it as you can manage before you are going too slow or your pulse is too high and not recovering in enough time. This method will improve your power and you’re climbing at the same time.
- Speed Training: This can be done many ways, solo or in a group. If you are training on your own for speed then pick a short section of road, no more than half a mile and ride as fast as you can over the distance, taking note of your speed and pulse. If your speed is dropping or your pulse is going to high or not recovering, then it is time to stop and ride home.
- Sprint Training: Sprint training is best done with a small group, another rider or a motorbike/scooter. In a group or with one other rider you should take turns to lead out and sprint past the other, with a moto you sprint past and then sprint to get back behind the moto. All these methods should be undertaken on a safe stretch of road.
- Time Trial Training: Time trial training is basically riding at, or better above, race speed for shorter distances than you would be racing at. Split your race distance into sections and then ride at top speed over each section, again if your pulse is too high or your speed drops, then it is time to stop and go home.
- Special Interval Training: Here are some road cycling training tips that are very hard, but if you can manage them you are bound to improve. The first method is best with a group of four riders, like a 4 man team time trial, but with a difference, instead of moving up sheltered by the rider in front of you in a circular movement of the riders, you ride in a line and the rider at the back has to go to the front by passing all the other riders to get to the front and then take his turn to do the pace making. This method forces you to ride hard to get to the front and then having to do it again to keep the group going.The second hard ride is solo, pick a ride and decide that you will ride as hard as you can between lamp posts or fence posts or any road signs, these distances will vary so that your rest periods and effort periods could be long or short and this can get very hard when you have to rest on a climb or ride harder or a descent which is all the opposite to what you want to do. Try these intervals and you probably won’t thank me!
Road Race Training
Road bike race training is best done by recreating a race situation, mid-week evening group rides are the usual way most riders train their bodies and their tactical minds at the same time. Ask at your local bike shop or cycling club where and when they meet, most of these fast group rides are just like racing.
Road Bike Training Programs
If you are going to train properly you must have a “road bike training schedule” and keep a Training Diary so that you know what you have done and what you intend to do, this is great to keep you focused and on the plan for your fitness and if the plan works you can look back and see how you achieved your goals.
If you are having problems designing your training programs then you need to consult either a coach or invest in a good book of road bike training to further your plans or to consolidate what you have already learnt, a road bike training schedule is a must if you want to improve, a plan is something you should stick to as closely as outer influences allow.
Our lives are full and busy, the best you can do is to try to set a side your training time and stick to it as best you can, improvements can be made, in the end it’s up to you if you want the hard work to achieve it?
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