We don't claim to be a cycling expert, far from it. Like all of life's lessons, we pick up what we need to be better and implement it. We've learnt over the years there's so much more to cycling than meets the eye. If you want to get the most out of cycling, it's not a case of just pedal anymore. You have to be thinking how hard can I push today? Have I consumed enough today for my session? It can be a minefield but Matt Rowe and Dani King - Rowe & King - have offered their professional words of advice to clear up any myths and legends around training...
1. You can’t train hard all the time.
You can’t train max effort every time you get on a bike. Cycling is a super endurance sport, so doing sprints and max effort all the time will make you fit, but won’t necessarily make you a better cyclist. You will likely end up training ‘quite hard all the time’. You need to ride easy, and rest well to enable you to truly train at your max, and recruit those all important Type II (Fast Twitch) muscle fibres. Failure to do this will see you lose the Zipp in your legs and likely become fairly good at riding quite hard, but nothing more!
2. We should all sprint!
Even if you don’t want to race, doing some sprints in training, even one max effort sprint at the end of each session will help engage those fast twitch fibres and help develop all aspects of your cycling - even your climbing! Although you can’t do many max effort sprints at truly max - you can always do one! Just make sure your sprint is quality, so if you are tired, motivation is low and your legs hurt - don’t bother, as the sprint won’t be a real explosive sprint as we want it to be. Rather, it will be a 20 second grind lacking quality! Quality over quantity!
3. Perfecting Cadence
Science tells us that a cadence of 80-90rpm is the most efficient. So, when doing a long event, spending as much time riding near these cadences as possible will help you cycle as efficiently as possible. This needs to be practiced in training - you can’t suddenly change the habit of a lifetime and start pedalling 10rpm faster or slower than you are used to - but start making a note of your cadence, and try and nudge yourself closer to the 80-90rpm range!
4. Consistency is key
It is important to have long-term consistency when training. Four one hour sessions will lead to greater performance gains than a single four hour ride per week. Focus training on maximizing training quality (higher power output, more time-at-intensity) and you will get to the finish faster, more comfortably and achieve your performance goals. To make sure you can fit multiple sessions in, design a training plan that works with your life schedule and commit.
5. Be specific
Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to go out for hours to ride steady and build a significant training stress. Instead, we have to replace some of the volume, for shorter and more intense training. Setting clear goals of what you want to achieve will allow you to focus on the specific efforts that will help you to improve most effectively.
6. It’s all in the data
Keeping a cycling diary will help you to chart and reflect on previous outings and ensure that you are going in the right direction. Your training diary should include valuable metrics such as power, heart rate and cadence. Careful consideration and accurate notes will provide you with a resource for reflection, allowing for steady and worthwhile improvements.
7. Pedal to the medal
One of the hardest things to teach yourself on the bike is the art of a fluid spin. A fluid pedaling style will make you a much more efficient rider as it allows you to conserve energy on the flats and on long climbs. Pushing the pedals with excessive force burns muscle while keeping a smooth circle allows your body to work more efficiently and save energy.
Matt is currently involved with the Garmin Next Level Programme