Roll With the Sea­sons Fall Bike Train­ing Tips

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - By Nigel Gray

Avoid­be­ing con­fined to rid­ing the trainer in the base­ment for the next seven to eight months. The fall is ac­tu­ally a great time to get out and ride and en­joy a dif­fer­ent train­ing stim­u­lus.

The fo­cus of your fall rid­ing sea­son should be about va­ri­ety both phys­i­o­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal. As triath­letes the sum­mer is spent fo­cus­ing on race spe­cific work, which means mainly steady state ef­forts. The fall, how­ever, is a great time to work on sharp­en­ing adapt­abil­ity by shak­ing up your train­ing regime. The goal of fall rid­ing is to main­tain a good fit­ness base while stay­ing fresh men­tally.

There are lots of ways to do this, just join­ing up with your lo­cal roadie group ride is a great way to have a more so­cial ride com­bined with some good in­ten­sity and to work on your bike han­dling skills. Triath­letes are no­to­ri­ously poor bike han­dlers which isn’t helped by spend­ing up­wards of seven months in­side on the trainer in a fixed po­si­tion, so get­ting out dur­ing the off- sea­son is a great way to im­prove your skills.

My per­sonal fall favourite is cy­clocross. A cy­clocross bike is a com­bi­na­tion of road bike and moun­tain bike. It has a road ge­om­e­try and road han­dle­bars, but a larger frame clear­ance so that you can run larger knobby tires. A cy­clocross bike opens up a wide se­lec­tion of rid­ing op­tions in­clud­ing dirt/gravel roads and trails, city bike paths, even some sin­gle track moun­tain bike trails. It also works just fine on the road as well. Cy­clocross rid­ing is not as tech­ni­cal in gen­eral as moun­tain bik­ing, but will def­i­nitely help you work on your bike han­dling and have you far more com­fort­able out on the road on your tri bike. For a triath­lete look­ing to in­vest in a se­cond bike, a cy­clocross bike is a great op­tion be­cause it can act as a two in one. All it takes is a quick change of tires to go from be­ing a cross bike to road bike.

One thing you will no­tice is that rid­ing off road and on park paths and trails is much warmer than be­ing out on open roads in cooler weather. Many ath­letes are afraid of the fall weather, but with cross rid­ing you are able to ride com­fort­ably in much cooler tem­per­a­tures. Be­ing pro­tected in the trees, as well as the slower speeds, means an off-road ride can feel 10– 15+ C warmer than one on the road. Hav­ing to get off and walk around ob­sta­cles is a great way to warm up your feet. This can also eas­ily be done on an old moun­tain bike or even hy­brid bike. Ex­er­cise cau­tion, how­ever, in the amount of off road you do on a hy­brid bike as it might not take the abuse as well. But the whole idea of this is to open up dif­fer­ent roads and ar­eas from where you ride in the sum­mer so help keep things fresh men­tally. From a

phys­i­o­log­i­cal stand­point it also of­fers built in va­ri­ety, the ter­rain will dic­tate a lot about your in­ten­sity, but in a good way you will go su­per hard to get up a tough lit­tle climb, but you are so fo­cused on mak­ing it the top you don’t think about the ef­fort un­til it’s done. Then, on a tech­ni­cal sec­tion, you might not pedal al­most at all for a cou­ple of min­utes, but you get a great up­per body workout ma­noeu­vring your bike around.

Cross rid­ing be­comes more fo­cused on ex­plor­ing the trails and paths and you aren’t wor­ried about the dis­tance or in­ten­sity, so it’s a great way to get in a solid workout without wor­ry­ing about a spe­cific struc­ture.

For those who want to do some dif­fer­ent kinds of rac­ing in the fall there are lots of op­tions as well. On the road there are a grow­ing num­ber of Grand Fondo/Cen­tu­rion/Char­ity rides pop­ping up across the coun­try. These are great rides that can give you a good in­tro­duc­tion to bike rac­ing. Those rid­ing to­wards the front will find these to be a proper bike race, but as you move far­ther back in the pack it be­comes less com­pet­i­tive and more com­ple­tion- ori­ented so there are op­tions for ev­ery­one. Cy­clocross races are also on the rise; they tend to be about 60min­utes in length and of­fer a va­ri­ety of ter­rain, but are in gen­eral quite short and very in­tense, with the added bonus for triath­letes of al­most al­ways hav­ing a num­ber of dis­mount and re­mount ob­sta­cles and some run­ning.

Fall rid­ing re­ally should be about va­ri­ety and try­ing to ride out­side as long as you can; many of my ath­letes have got­ten cross bikes over the last few years and are now rid­ing through the winter. This lets them come into sum­mer race sea­son both fit­ter and fresher.

Long, Un­in­ter­rupted Runs For a long base or en­durance run, noth­ing beats trails. No traf­fic lights, no in­ter­sec­tions and long stretches of trail create a con­tin­u­ous aer­o­bic ses­sion. Without the dis­trac­tions of road run­ning, you can re­ally get into a groove in the woods, pay­ing at­ten­tion to your body, your breath and how ef­fi­ciently you’re run­ning.

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