By Coach David Ertl, Ph.D.
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I’m into numbers as much as the next coach. So why am I writing an article on low-tech training? Am I, a confessed numbers junkie, even qualified to write about low-tech training? Well, I believe I am for and have three reasons to do so.
One: Before 1990, every cyclist, myself included, had to train by feel rather than by heart rate or power. Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault each won the Tour de France five times without knowing what their threshold power was or even how fast they were riding. Training by feel obviously worked, and still does. While these new tools can help make cyclists even better, training by feel is still an important and effective training tool.
Two: While many cyclists do like numbers and technology, (some even more than me, believe it or not), I realize that many other cyclists, including many RoadBikeRider readers, just like to ride and don’t really get into the high-tech scientific approach to cycling and number-based training workouts. But just because they aren’t interested in all the technology and numbers doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in getting better and faster. This article can explain how to do so without having to resort to all the latest technological tricks.
Three: I still enjoy riding without technology. I love to ride my mountain bike because it is a nice change of pace from road riding. I have never put any sort of bike computer on my mountain bike and hope I never do. I like to take it out to the woods and ride without thinking about how fast or hard I’m riding. So even a hardcore numbers junkie like me enjoys riding 3 ‘unplugged’ once in a while. We all need to remember that our first bicycle was a toy. Riding was and is supposed to be fun. Low-tech training can help keep it that way for some of us. But even if you are a technology-driven, ride-by-the numbers cyclist, I think you can learn a thing or two from this article as well.