Question: I got my first road bike three years ago and fell in with a group of racers at work. We’ve been doing fast 30-mile lunchtime rides with a good deal of climbing. I’m improving quickly, but I still get dropped near the finish. My friends say, “The only way to ride at 30 mph is to ride at 30 mph.” How do I get to the next level? — Jeff D.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Your rides are relatively short but done at high intensity. Getting dropped near the end is a sign that you don’t have the endurance base to make the hard work count.
Longer rides on the weekend will help. Do them at a moderate pace about 80% of your lactate threshold.
However, long rides will help only if you limit hard rides during the week. Many riders can handle a long ride on the weekend along with fast rides on Tuesday and Thursday, but not every day. Some riders won’t recover if they do more than one hard midweek ride. See what works for you.
In addition, you need to do a couple of easy rides each week — even easier than your longer weekend training ride. You should probably do these solo unless you can find riders who promise to go easy.
Like most bumper-sticker statements, “The only way to ride at 30 mph is to ride at 30 mph” is an oversimplification. If it were literally true, every ride ought to be done flat out. Obviously, you’d overtrain quickly.
The truth is much more complicated. However, you do need to train your body what to expect when you call on it to hit 30 mph.
To ride fast, you have to find the proper mix of intervals, long rides for endurance, recovery rides and rest days. That’s what my training books are all about.