Question: I’m a 44-year-old recreational rider whose goals are to improve speed and endurance. I have a great hill near my office, 2 miles at a 4-5% grade. I ride for an hour 3 or 4 times each week at lunchtime, pushing hard on the climb. On the weekend I do a 3-hour ride.
I’ve improved on this hill in the 3 years since I began riding. But I still find it difficult to maintain 80 rpm in my lowest gear. What’s the right way to use this hill for training? — Kenny P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Your convenient hill should be just part of your total training program.
You’re lucky to have a great climb that’s easy to access, but that also has a downside. The temptation is to ride it a lot and always try to ride it faster. This sounds like what you’re doing, and that’s a negative in terms of total improvement.
So what you need is a comprehensive training program like (pardon the plug) you can find in our eBookstore. They will tell you how to get better on the flats as well as on climbs.
To simplify, here’s my recommendation: Ride the hill twice a week at lunch. On one ride, climb at a steady but not all-out effort, roll down to recover and repeat several times depending on your fitness level, motivation and time.
On another day (after sufficient rest), you could ride the flats and finish on the climb so the total interval is about 20 minutes. Again, aim for a steady but not agonizing effort. Don’t go too hard on the flats or you’ll blow on the climb.
These two workouts, combined with proper rest and your long, aerobic ride on the weekend, should help you improve.
What about the other two weekday rides? Use them for recovery. Go gently on flat roads and enjoy the scenery. Don’t go near that hill!