Question: I’m an average cyclist who rides about four times a week for a total of under 100 miles. The problem is that I always go all-out. No matter what I try, I can’t seem to make myself slow down. If I diligently monitor my speed, it creeps up and soon I’m in time trial mode at over 90% of my maximum heart rate. How can I manage my rides better? — Carl S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I sympathize. I have trouble riding slowly, too.
We have to realize that we don’t improve when we’re going fast. Intensity is only the catalyst for improvement. The actual improvement comes when we’re resting and the body repairs the “damage” from hard rides. Then the general adaptation syndrome kicks in. The body adjusts to the stress and gets stronger.
So, if you think about how a nice easy spin makes you stronger, it can help you keep your irrational exuberance under control. Other tips:
- Ride a “town” or “beater” bike on your easy days. Getting on your good bike makes you want to go fast. Riding a cruiser makes you want to, well, cruise.
- Ride with a slower person. Go at their pace by riding side by side or following, never leading.
- Combine your ride with errands. When you need to make several stops, you won’t have the chance to steadily up your tempo. You could even do these rides in street clothes rather than cycling clothes to help curb your urge to go fast.
- Ride bike paths rather than your usual training roads. Inline skaters and people walking dogs or pushing baby strollers will make you ride slower.