Question: I rode about 6,000 miles last year. But because of work, I won’t be riding for five weeks. What will this layoff do to my riding and fitness? How long will I have to train before I get back to my usual fitness level? — David C.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Detraining usually happens quickly if the person doesn’t have much of a fitness base to begin with. In your case, you have an extensive riding background.
Five weeks off the bike shouldn’t impact your fitness too much. It should take about a month to get it all back, assuming sensible increases in mileage and intensity once you resume riding.
Here’s a personal example. Some years ago, I hurt my knee running a marathon and was unable to run, ride or lift weights for two months. About a month after resuming riding, I set a course record in a local time trial!
I may have come back too quickly and should have spent more time rebuilding my base, but this shows that it’s possible to have a significant layoff without long-term negative effects. In fact, forced rest can ultimately be beneficial.
One more point: Studies show that some people lose fitness faster than others. Like so much else in this game, reactions to training and layoffs are highly individual.