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7 Weeks to improve

Jul 31, 2009
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I'm preparing for my first century in about 2 months. I'm not worried about the distance but I would like to improve my average speed over that distance. I'm currently riding between 100 and 150 miles a week, but my training is sporadic and without any real direction. With work and family I can basically count on 1 long ride a week (between 3 and 5 hours to ride), one short ride (2 hours), riding to work (45 mins each way) a couple times a week, and 1 to 1 1/2 hours on the trainer at night a couple times a week. I don't have a heart rate monitor or a power meter, just a basic speed/cadence cycling computer and my own perceived effort. I generally ride at a steady pace where I'm breathing heavy yet could have a conversation, but do often go into the red on steep hills. Over relatively flat ground I average about 17.5 mph, and about 16 mph over rolling hills. If it matters I'm 31 years old, 5'10", and 175lbs.

How can I best make use of my time over the next 7 weeks to improve my average speed? What would be realistic gains from doing better training over this amount of time?
 
Feb 25, 2010
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I'm not an expert but from my own experience I'd say you'd best train slightly easier. When doing long rides you should be able to hold a (quite) normal to slightly difficult conversation for maximum conditional gain. Because that's when you're in the ideal heartratezone :) If you're basic condition is allright already then you should train easy but with 'blocs' of 4-8 minutes in which you ride fast so that normal conversation is no longer possible :)
 
May 31, 2010
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I went from not having ridden a bike in 7 years to finishing a Pro I/II crit in 6 weeks. Now I realize there is a big difference between a century and an hour and a half crit, but the process of developing greater speed is pretty similar.

With such limited amount of time to train each week, you are going to want to focus on higher intensity efforts, instead of the steady-state riding you are currently doing.

I'd suggest you pick up a copy of Carmichael's The Time Crunched Cyclist and follow the New Century training model. It is laid out perfectly for your scenario and will definitely work.

Good luck.
 
May 23, 2010
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first century..You didn't mention any group riding experience..Best way to go faster in a century is to get up with a fast group..The group can go much faster than you are now and faster than you could hope to improve to. You need to be comfortable and safe drafting in a group. Going AS fast as you are now would be a decent goal for 100 miles. Take enough food to fuel you.. That might be some real food and not just gels and cookies.
 
Jul 31, 2009
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Thanks for the ideas, I generally only have a chance to do group rides once a week, if that; I'll make sure I don't miss them and I'll try to stick with the faster group to work on riding in a group and drafting better. The steady paced riding I've mostly done was more or less to build a base (I've got at least 600 miles in so far), I've expected to have to up the intensity, but was a bit unsure what I should focus my time on. I've got some Spinervals DVD's, but they are only like 45 minutes, that just doesn't sound like enough. Should I be doing intervals? I feel like I could make better use of my time on the trainer (and make it more interesting) if I threw in some intervals. Should I do like 30-45 mins of intervals after an hour of endurance riding? What kind of intervals should I be doing? 1 minute hard to 1 minute rest? 2 minutes hard to one minute rest? 30 seconds REALLY hard to 5 minutes rest? Or should I be doing longer intervals, like 5 minutes just above threshold, or 15 minutes right at threshold? I'll look into the Carmichael book too.
 
May 28, 2010
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Thanks for the post as I am in a similar situation (age, size, speed, and ride quantity) and the info has been good. I am riding about the same pace and had the same questions. I am looking forward to the replies on interval training.
 
Jun 30, 2010
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Intervals

For your specific goals I would not suggest any intervals less than 3 minutes in duration. Anything under three minutes is meant to target the anaerobic energy systems and you wont be utilizing those energy systems during the century. There could be exceptions to this if the terrain has a lot of short steep hills but even then you will spend the large majority of your time aerobic. You could do intervals lasting b/w 3-8', these will greatly improve your maximal aerobic power. For example, 5 x 4' with 5' recovery, however, it would be hard to gauge your effort without a heart rate monitor or power, but you can get dialed in if you do enough of them. With your limited amount of training time (which is more than most people train still) I would suggest most of your rides be done in the "sweet spot" or "tempo" pace, this is somewhat comfortable but engaging in a conversation is not really achievable. Also, I would agree with the above post regarding your longer ride, if you are doing some intervals once or twice a week and tempo rides 2-4 times per week you'll need to make sure your long ride (4-5 hours) is done easy, except when you ride with the group of course, then you're at the groups mercy:) Good luck.

http://www.ryan-fiddler.blogspot.com
 
Jul 28, 2010
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I just completed my first century this past weekend - turned out to be more enjoyable than I thought :D

I travel a lot with work, so getting a fixed training schedule had been pretty tough. If I'm at home for the week I'll usually do around 25-30miles on Mon, Tue and Fri. Wednesday is a 50mile hilly ride with the local cycling club here in Singapore. Thursday is my day off and I'll do longer rides of 4+hours on the weekend.

When I'm away travelling I replace the rides with either an hour of stationary bike, or swimming depending on the hotel gym.

I don't tend to worry too much about the distance on the longer rides, but I do make sure I keep my cadence in the 75-85 range.

After a few weeks you'll get a good base in your legs ready for the century. Remember to fuel and drink properly on the longer rides, for the shorter ones I usually have a piece of toast with peanut butter before I leave, then just take 2 bidons with water and salt tabs incase of cramps.

Good luck with the century - let us know how it goes.

EDIT: forgot to mention, I was told by Chris McCormack at a club session he did with us to take every 3rd week real easy to let the body recover and build properly.
 

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