It’s warming up! Yay!
This is probably one of the most important changes that you should make as soon as possible. During the winter, you’ve probably been training indoors in a climate controlled environment with a fan helping to keep you cool. Now that the warmth is on its way, you will soon be shoved outdoors riding under the hot sun and hot pavement beneath your tires. Your body will have a difficult time acclimating to the temperature change and regulating your bodily functions (perspiration, heart rate, hydration).
Hyperthermia, heat stress and heat exhaustion are the most prevalent complications that cyclists endure during the early warm months. Not only do these conditions debilitate the performance of the cyclist, they can also be life threatening.
We can improve our ability to ride in the heat by simply, riding in the heat. So, turn off the fan, turn off the air conditioner and ride hard. Make your environment emulate the environment you will be riding in by turning up the heat and making your body sweat. You’ll use twice the normal water and feel twice as exhausted. It’s uncomfortable, messy and disorienting, but, it will significantly help you to acclimate to hot ambient temperatures.
You don’t have much time left before you will be forced to go into the red and stay on a wheel or crest a summit or both. Your training right now must acclimate you to quick accelerations and red zone efforts. Interval training is highly recommended right now. Get used to 95% max efforts with short recoveries and the same efforts again. This is probably the most difficult solo training you will have to endure. It is really tough to motivate your body to punish itself this heinously without having external encouragements like the humility of getting dropped or walking up the last few 100 feet of a steep hill.
It’s Cooling Off
The season is ending and now you’re just riding to have a little fun. I’m with ya! This time of the year is the best time to get a pen and paper and begin planning your training for the cold. You’re not racing, so this is the optimal time to build a foundation to which you can improve upon. Use this time to:
Racing in the Summer or simply riding with groups or challenging yourself on epic rides requires a commitment to managing your strength and pain thresholds. Many cyclists actually gain weight over the summer due to the high caloric requirements of their workouts. Not to mention the beer rewards, bbq’s and pizza parties after the ride!
Take this time now to make changes to your diet and your workout routine. Knowing your caloric requirements from any given indoor workout is easy. Use a calorie calculator or your own methods and prepare your diet so that caloric input is less than caloric expenditure.
An indoor calorie burner ride is in a controlled environment, so, it isn’t difficult to calculate calories burned.
Improve Cardiovascular capacity.
The summer challenges your anaerobic capacity and pain thresholds. Many of us rarely use a summer ride to ride in the green. We want to go out, hammer and go fast. As a result, we do not train in the aerobic zone (65-75 percent of max) as often as we should. Fortunately, training our cardiovascular capacity and burning fat are synonymous. Ride easy, stay in the saddle and regulate your diet and you are on the road to having the best cycling season ever.