Coach John Hughes coaches health and fitness riders, tour riders, century and other endurance riders. Most of his clients are at least 50 years old. None are licensed racers. However, Coach Hughes follows the pro scene to see what nuggets he can glean from the best racers to use to help his clients improve. In his new eArticle Learning from the Pros, he provides tips from 35 different pros for regular rec roadies like you and me.
Recreational roadies span the spectrum from coffee-shop social cyclists to club riders, from commuters to century and brevet devotees, from cyclo-tourists to racers – all of whom have different approaches to riding. Some roadies “train” following a programmatic approach to every ride. Other roadies bridle at the mention of the word “training” and have a much looser approach to maintaining fitness.
The common denominator for all of us is that we ride primarily to have fun, no matter where we fall on the spectrum. Some of us train to race, for goal events or to set PRs. Others might want to improve a bit this year so that you can do more interesting rides or to peak for a specific event. Surely we want at the very least to maintain the fitness that we have as we get older. If not actually improve. The tips Coach Hughes lays out in his new eArticle can help you regardless of your “training” approach. Here are some examples:
Sometimes the Pros Just Want to Have Fun
For the pros, endurance training may be just for fun. Taylor Phinney rode for the TIAA-CREF junior development team and turned pro with BMC Racing Team in 2012. After a strong start to his pro career he suffered a potentially career-ending crash in the 2014 U.S. National Championship Road Race. As part of his comeback he rode from Boulder, Colorado, to Moab, Utah, with fellow pros Lachlan and Gus Morton to reconnect with the fun of cycling. Then he rode alone for a week from Los Angeles, California, to Joshua Tree National Park in California carrying his clothes in a handlebar bag.
“I love putting bags on my bike and ending up somewhere different than where I started,” Phinney says. “I’ve spent my whole career training from point A to point A. But you have this cool vehicle for transportation. The idea that we could go from point A to point B, and then from point B to point C — that’s why we invented bikes in the first place. Introducing that into training has been great.”
Learning from the Pros includes seven different sections describing both structured training and unstructured riding.
Don’t Let Climbing Get You Down
Don’t be intimidated by climbing. Miguel Indurain won five consecutive Tours de France from 1991 to 1995. He is only the fourth, and last, to win the Tour de France five times, and one of only seven people to achieve the Giro-Tour double in the same season. Indurain holds the record for the most consecutive Tour de France wins. Despite his physical size—6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) and 176 lb. (80 kg)—he was an excellent climber.
“My number one lesson from riding the Tour is a very simple one – learn to ride hills and you will have a big advantage! Everyone knows that you can’t win the Tour if you don’t know how to climb. But still many people do not put this in their training; maybe they are intimidated by the fear of the climb?”
Coach Hughes provides eight different tips to make you a better climber, because hills are a part of riding for all of us. We don’t have to aspire to be a Tour winner to benefit from learning how to climb better.
Lose weight to climb better. We all know that; however, it often is difficult. Six pros that lost a total of 168 lbs. provide their tips on how to lose weight.
Plan to Ride. Ride your Plan.
Have a plan. Lizzie Armitstead races for Boes-Dolmans and won the World Championship in the road race in Richmond, Virginia, in 2015. Discussing her preparation for the World’s road race, she said: “I had a strategy. It was eight laps, and I knew that I was going to make my move on the last lap. I knew the course inside out. I knew where the potholes were. I knew the best line through the cobbles. I’d thought about that course every day since June. In training, I knew that I needed to do three repeated efforts followed by a sprint. Every single day I did that in training, and I knew, going into it, that I’d prepared better.”
Having a ride plan makes sense for rec roadies for almost any ride from a fast group outing to a metric or full century, brevet or tour. It can mean the difference between getting dropped or finishing strong, bonking or feeling good throughout. Five pros talk about how to have a plan for a ride and tactics to use during a ride.
Stay Confident, and Work at Recovery
Importance of confidence. Jens Voigt was known for his breakaways. Here’s why: “I should have had more confidence in myself, realized I was a better rider, and that I didn’t need to cover every crazy, early breakaway. That I could go with the moves at the end of a race, and finish with the bigger guys. So, I wouldn’t have just raced for breakaways but also for results.
“I had the physical strength; but sometimes it was easier to go for the breakaway because it was less difficult, technically, than sitting in and waiting for the moves to go. You take the pressure off by making the move yourself. I proved through my career that I was good enough to win stage races and perform with the better guys, but it took me a while to find that out, and I think I could have done that earlier.”
Coach Hughes tells you how to be confident and make the most out of the mental side of cycling.
Importance of recovery. Brent Bookwalter rides for BMC Racing Team. He advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, use it for recovery.
A good many recreational roadies think piling on the miles is the way to go, at the expense of adequate recovery. Coach Hughes provides tips from four different pros who describe their recovery techniques.
Learning from the Pros: 35 tips on how to become a better rider is 26 pages packed with current information. It is available for only $4.99 ($4.24 for Premium Members after their 15% discount). Whether you ride for good health, for better fitness or improved performance, Coach John Hughes translates these tips from the masters of the sport into terms that you can use.
John Marsh is the former editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of "less than podium" talent, he brought our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That's what we're all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John's full bio.