Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Riding (Part 2)
BY COACH MALI GABER
In Part 1 of Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Riding we touched on gear, safety, and maintaining aspects of indoor cycling. In Part 2, we’ll focus on retaining variety in workouts, how to get the most out of key workouts, and bike handling. If you missed Part 1 check it out below!
Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Riding
Hopefully by now you’ve been able to get out on the road at least a few times and maybe even snuck in an early season race. While it’s still early in the season keep these tips in mind in order to continue building through racing season and maximize your cycling training this summer.
Maintaining variety in workouts.
Mix it up! Avoid falling into the trap of monotonous workouts outside. Going on that same ride, on the same road, at the same pace can lead to mental and physical staleness. Stay fresh by varying intensity, volume, and route during your rides.
Intensity. Working at different intensities during rides will work different energy systems making you a better all-around rider. After throwing down intervals on the trainer all winter long, sometimes we gravitate towards the same long endurance ride during the summer months. It’s important to work at different intensities to have depth as a rider. If you always go on that “long ride,” you’ll find you lose that top end and feel like you only have “one speed.” Two examples of workouts that incorporate intensity are hill repeats and efforts at (or above) race pace.
Volume. Intensity and volume are linked. Generally, as intensity of a workout goes up, volume decreases. For example, an endurance ride is going to tend to be longer than a hard interval ride. Larger volume and lesser intensity for the endurance ride in contrast to smaller volume and higher intensity bouts for the interval workout. Remember, quality over quantity. The longer the ride doesn’t necessarily mean the more beneficial the ride.
Route. It’s natural to have a favorite route but avoid doing all your riding on the same roads. There are plenty of great cycling roads in the area. Riding a variety of routes and incorporating new routes will help keep you on your toes (or on the edge of your saddle) mentally and physically. Mentally, the change of scenery keeps rides fun, helps avoid monotony, and promotes mental sharpness. Variety increases attentiveness versus riding on “autopilot.” Physically, the different terrain – flats, rollers, and hills – opens more opportunity to build bike handling skills, develops breadth as a rider and ability to ride different types of courses.
In the same way that doing the same workout over and over will not yield improvements, riding the same route repeatedly will not either. There must be variety and progression in training to keep making gains.
A prime example of over-riding a route would be athletes preparing for Ironman Wisconsin. We’re fortunate to have the course in our backyard, but over-riding the loop can lead to mental and physical staleness. Go check out some new scenery once in a while!
Remember to always check out roads and routes prior. Exploring can be fun a bike but don’t get caught on heavily trafficked non-cycling friendly roads. Safety is always number one!
Getting the most out of key workouts.
There are more elements to deal with outside; traffic, other cyclists, road conditions, abiding to stop signs, and other road rules. We’ve all had an interval cut short or interrupted during a ride on the roads – it happens. It’s easy to pawn off the trainer as a tool for the cold months or rainy days. Consider utilizing the trainer even during the summer months to do high intensity or interval work. Continuing to do key workouts indoor can be very beneficial. Without the additional external factors of the road we can hammer out intervals without interruption. It’s worth riding indoors once a week (even on a sunny day) if we can get a higher quality work out in.
While indoor riding has large fitness benefits that translate outside, keep in mind that no amount of indoor training will equate to bike handling skills learned on the road. Cornering, climbing hills, descending and holding a line on the road are just a few riding skills only developed outdoors. Even tasks like hand signaling, reaching for a bottle or nutrition can take time to feel comfortable with. Take the time to practice skills such as these to build your riding comfort and to avoid hindering performance. Additionally, remember to check out course maps ahead of races in order to practice skills such as u-turns prior to the race, especially for technical courses.
As you dive deeper into summer training utilize these tips to get the most out of your cycling training, whether on the road or the trainer. Train smart. Be safe. Have fun. Happy riding!