General thoughts on base training for
cycling club coach used to say the most important thing is that you ride 5,
000 km base before you start doing speed work or any hard training. Thatís
about 3, 000 miles for those not on the metric system. You ride hard enough
that you are working but not so hard that you canít do the same thing the
next day. 700 km or 400 miles a week.
This, however, is not practical for triathletes that need to train for three
disciplines. The same principle still applies though. You need to program
your muscles to spin the gears on the bike and this is done with many miles
on the bike. It makes sense for triathletes to dedicate themselves to ride a
lot of steady miles in the early season. Doing some 250 miles weeks will
rapidly increase cycling efficiency and help develop aerobic base which will
help with all disciplines of triathlon. The same applies to swimming and
running. Repetition for several hours will program the muscles to perform
that motion more efficiently.
As with swimming and running, speed work improves cycling form. Riding very
fast will improve your pedal stroke and form. However, in cycling we can
cheat. With the gears on a bike you donít need to ride very fast to pedal
very fast. Light gears and high cadence develop good cycling technique. The
most efficient cadence for cycling is 90 to 110 rpms. Triathletes tend to
spin closer to the 90 rpms, which more closely matches the cadence they
should reach in running. Cadence rpm refers to the number of times one leg
turns over in one minute during cycling and running. In bike training
reaching 120 rpms is good for developing technique and aerobic fitness.
When you start interval training, a mix of hard and easy efforts, do it in a
light gear. This will allow your tendons to adapt to the motion of cycling
and the high rpms before you start hurting yourself with high intensity big
gear work. Always use a low gear for recovery periods.
If you start out training in a lighter gear at a higher cadence when you
progress to using larger gears you will automatically spin the bigger gears
faster and go very fast on your bike.
As soon as the weather warms up, ride your bike a lot, long steady rides,
light gears and high cadence. As the racing season gets closer ride less but
ride faster. During the season ride even less but maintain quality and make
sure you recover from your races and training sessions because without
proper recovery there is no improvement.