Question: In Supercharge Your Training, you talk about intervals where you go hard for 10 seconds and easy for 20 seconds, repeating the pattern many times. My question concerns effort and gearing. Do you recommend shifting to a bigger gear for the 10 hard seconds, then back down for the easy 20? Or should I simply use the same gear (assuming flat terrain), pedaling harder and then easier? — Barry M.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Jonathan Vaughters showed me how to do the 10/20 intervals, so I’ll tell you his approach.
On a flat road, he chooses a gear that he can pedal at about 80 rpm at a brisk intensity. Then he turns that gear hard for 10 seconds. At the end of the effort, he’s doing about 100 rpm. This isn’t a sprint, just a hard and steady acceleration in the saddle.
Then he pedals easily for 20 seconds in the same gear. By the end of this recovery, he’s back to around 80 rpm.
If there are little hills on the course, he shifts gears so that he can keep about the same intensity and cadence in both parts of the interval.
You don’t have to be precise with time and cadence. The objective is to get accustomed to the frequent hard/easy pace changes in a race pack. They’re random, so training for them can be pretty irregular, too.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.