Anyone who has ever met me will testify that my shape is odd. Quite skinny legs through cycling and a rotund torso from drinking. Albeit it’s a lot less than it was before I started cycling.
However we’re now at that stage of the year where the days are short, the weather is getting crap – though there is the adage that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choice – and the decision between continuing to ride roads or bring out the turbo trainer or rollers.
We all know that with the advent of dark nights the risk to cyclists increases ten fold. Poor lighting conditions, drivers lack of awareness, cyclists complete lack of awareness that USING LIGHTS ON A NIGHT TIME IS A MUST, drivers not adhering to giving cyclists their rights on the road as we don’t pay ‘road tax’ (such a thing doesn’t exist but don’t let that cloud your ignorance), but above all it’s a matter of both drivers and cyclists giving a little bit more respect to each other.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – dark nights.
As a cyclist I don’t ever fall into the trap of riding sans lights on a night or morning. It’s stupid and dangerous and above all you’re a moron if you do ride without lights in the dark. However as safe as I am on the road I still feel uneasy at this time of the year when riding home from work in the dark as I know for a fact that come that time of day, the driver only wants to get home to their families/pub/football whatever they have going on and it’s tough luck to those who get in their way.
So out comes the turbo trainer for me. My set up consists of swapping the Conti’s across the Michelin Pro Race tyres, slapping the turbo skewers through and then figuring out what works best for me for half an hour before I’m finally set for my punishment sessions.
My set up in my torture chamber (sometimes acts as a conservatory according to the Mrs)
As it stands though and which I found out when I used a TT for the first time, it’s a bit more ‘difficult’ than riding on the road. Whereas on the road you can freewheel, have a breather, etc, the TT quickly lets you know when you’ve had enough time as it tends to come to a halt much quicker than on the road. Or it should do if your tensions are set correctly. Anywhere between 5-10 seconds freewheel is sufficient before you need to crank those legs again and get moving. Anything more and I personally think you’re slacking!
In the initial stages of using the TT I found that 30 mins was killing me as I had it all set up wrong. So you will need to tinker till you get the right setting for you and if you don’t get it right first or second time, don’t dismiss it and throw it in the shed, persevere with it and you’ll get it right. Trust me – I’ve been riding for a long time now – it takes time!
Now though as I alluded to at the beginning it’s winter time and any cyclist will tell you that this is probably the worst time for cycling. Wrong kit on, you’ll freeze or get drenched (see my blog on decent winter based kit elsewhere in here), early morning starts mean having to prepare the night before (trick: set your kit out the night before, pack your backpack with what you need, get your drink bottle fixed up, check your lights are working, etc, so in the morning it’s shower, black coffee, kit on and go). There is a multitude of excuses not to ride in the winter but the TT or Rollers can eliminate this.
I’ll lay out what I do in the winter – my training plan as it is (these are subject to change due to work commitments):-
Mon – TT 1 hour at 60-90% max HR (inc. intervals)
Tues – TT 30-40 mins of The Sufferfest (anyone who uses The Sufferfest will know what that’s like – PAIN!)
Wed – TT 30 mins at 60% max HR
Thurs – day off
Fri – TT 1 hour split between The Sufferfest working at 90% of max HR and interspersed with 30 second intervals and then a very slow recovery session to build core fitness
Sat – day off
Sun – Possible ride of 20-40 miles at low intensity (and I mean very slow – not going above 160 bpm. This in itself is a learning curve as it’s very boring and you naturally want to go fast. Don’t. You’ll burn fat, build a good base fitness for the coming summer and you’ll notice more power at low speeds over time).
Any of the above I can replace with my ride to work if I’m on sensible shifts. A nice 20 mile round trip with a host of short hills, long flats and anything else that can be thrown at a rider. So I basically get sprints & hill climbs (short bursts) thrown in for my 30-40 min ride to work.
If I can’t do any of the exercises on the given day I will up the tempo on the next session till I either puke or collapse in a sweating heap on the floor.
I’m not a ‘fast’ rider. I prefer longer rides at a steady 15 mph with a few kicks and hills thrown in. More a Domestique than anything else. As a mate pointed out, I’ve got a Diesel engine that will run and run and run.
That programme that I’ve laid out will NOT WORK IF YOU’RE NEW TO CYCLING. Don’t even try it. Please. It may put you off altogether. The racing snakes amongst you will be thinking – that’s nowt that. And to you I blow a massive raspberry.
So there you go. That’s my winter training schedule. Now – if only I could eat & drink sensibly I’d be signing for Omega Pharma…….aye, Darren, dream on sunshine. Comments welcome.
Happy riding folks. See you on the road.