Break bad cycling habits on and off the bike and you’ll reap the benefits says Tony Williams of Flammerouge.je coaching
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1. Poor pacing
“Especially when climbing,” says Williams, “so many riders start off full gas, die in the middle, and crawl over the top. Instead, start steadily, push in the middle and surge over the top.
Improvements in time, for no extra training are anything from 10 to 30 seconds on a ‘normal’ climb of 5–10 minutes.” The same goes for big events, where nerves can make you start too fast. Use a computer or heart rate monitor to reduce your intensity early on.
2. Wheel sucking
“Sitting on wheels is not bad in itself,” says Williams “and is great for pack-riding skills. It is also the principle of motorpacing, used by pros to train at pace by slipstreaming a motorbike. It’s following the wrong wheel at the wrong time for your training that’s the problem — such as riding with others fitter and faster than you in the winter.
“Apart from being demoralising, riding three hours at 98 percent of your maximum heart rate is not training.”
3. Junk miles
“Don’t ride, train!” says Williams. “To improve and get better results, every ride needs a reason. Some riders think training takes the enjoyment out of a ride but they’re forgetting how much more enjoyable it is to win and get better.”
Training doesn’t mean always riding hard either — the opposite in fact. Over 90 percent of elite riders’ training is between 60 and 80 percent of maximum heart rate — especially in winter when they’re building a good endurance base, with long ‘steady state’ miles.
4. Recovery matters
“The principle of training is overload plus adaptation,” says Williams, “so for the biggest gains, it’s quality of your training plus recovery that matters. From getting the best night’s sleep to the nutritional quality, quantity and timing of what you eat and drink after a session.”
Recovery is also at the centre of heart rate zone training, because while you’re targeting one type of muscle fibre with a session, the different fibres and systems that you targeted in the previous session can be recovering.