Winter Endurance Rides

Last week’s blog dealt with indoor trainer workouts.  These are a necessary evil for work week training for most of us.  The weekends are the time for longer outdoor endurance rides.  Someone training 10-12 hours per week should try to get in rides both days with duration in the 2-4 hour range.

You can mix things up by doing a mountain bike ride one of the days if you like.  This is a good option on days when it’s too cold to get out on the road.  At this time of year try to find trails that aren’t overly technical so that you can keep up a good consistant effort.  Another great place to ride on bitter cold days are rail trails.  There are a lot of them in northern and central NJ.  You can use a mountain or a cyclocross bike on these.  Since they aren’t very technical in nature you do not have to have the latest and greatest full suspension rig.  Maybe you have that 15 year old rigid clunker gathering dust in your basement?  Haul it out and put it to use!

For the road rides you need to consider solo or small group vs group rides.  They both have their places and you will want to mix them up.  Going out by your self or in a small group will allow you to ride at a targeted heart rate and power level.  You want to spend the majority of your time in upper zone 2 and lower zone 3 to get the maximum benefit from these rides. Try to avoid a lot of time in zone 1.  This will do nothing to improve your aerobic fitness.  You also want to avoid too much time in zones 4 and above.  Smaller groups allow you to control the effort levels.  On larger group rides you are subject to the pace of that group.  Rather than getting in steady zones 2 and 3 work group rides generally result in a lot of time in zone 1 (while sitting in) and time in zones 4 and above when on the front or during the harder paceline efforts.

Group rides do have a place in your winter training schedule.  Firstly, they are fun!  It’s good to get out with a group of friends and socialize during the ride.  They keep your group riding skills sharp.  And contrary to some schools of thought I believe that the occasional threshold and above effort is a good thing this time of year.  Just don’t overdo it!  So consider alternating large group rides with solo/small group rides and get the best of both worlds!

As always feel free to contact me with any questions at