Question: I live in the Southeast and ride year-round. I’m 5-11 and 200 pounds. I recently completed a hilly century in a bit under 6 hours. I’m planning to ride another one in September and I want to go faster.
I don’t have hills to train on but I do like to lift weights. I know I would climb better if I gained strength and lost weight. How should I use the next 4 months to peak in September? — Danny H.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Sounds like you’re going well in April if you rode a hilly century in less than 6 hours. The trick for September is to get more powerful without burning out and getting tired of the bike. That’s often a problem in the summer for folks who can ride all year.
It’s hard to gain strength and endurance while at the same time losing weight. If I were you, I wouldn’t diet. Simply cut out excess fat and junk food and continue to ride. Your body will approach its ideal weight in the next few months.
At this time of the year you don’t necessarily want to gain strength. But you do want to improve your power. Strength from the weight room is a necessary precursor to on-bike performance, but it’s not the same thing.
Ten reps of 700 pounds in the leg press asks your body to do something entirely different from the roughly 30,000 pedal strokes during a century. When you’re riding, the resistance is only 10-40 pounds on each pedal revolution.
So you need to convert weight-room strength to cycling-specific power with intervals, training time trials and, if you lack hills, grinding into headwinds. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to lift, but don’t overdo it to the detriment of your cycling.
One way to avoid burnout and gain overall power is to follow the plan in my eBook, Off-Season Training for Roadies, for June and July. Then switch to the plan in Spring Training for Roadies in July and August. This will add variety to your training and take advantage of periodization. It’s the approach often used by riders who live where they can ride all year.