A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ride the Rockies Training: Going Nowhere Fast

Since picking up my new bike on March 30 I have ridden almost 200 miles...and never left my house. Riding on my CycleOps Fluid2 trainer has been real and it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun. Actually, I think calling it "fun" is a stretch. But I am getting in some "miles in the saddle" which is important as I recover from my surgery and prepare for Ride the Rockies.

The reason I love cycling is getting on the road and going somewhere. With cycling you can ride for hours, travel more distance than running, and enjoy the scenery. I'm getting tired of riding in place and watching TV (or the clock). It's the same reason I don't enjoy running on a treadmill.

But riding on a trainer (and running on a treadmill) do have their place in a good training regimen. Apparently there is a saying that "an hour on the trainer is worth two on the road." I hope so, because I can't stand to ride for more than an hour-and-a-half at a time on the trainer.

The two main benefits of riding on a trainer are working on increasing cadence and improving pedal stroke technique. Studies suggest that pedaling faster (increasing cadence) is supposed to increase efficiency. this is because glycogen is depleted in fast-twitch muscle fibers at a quicker rate during slow, high-force pedaling. Lance Armstrong is widely credited with advancing the theory that pedaling at a higher cadence is more efficient, allowing him to ride faster, longer than anyone else (and he proved it for seven consecutive years on the Tour de France).

But pedaling faster isn't the only way to improve efficiency. Achieving the perfect pedal stroke increases power efficiency, allowing you to generate the same amount of power at a lower heart rate.

All of this may seem ridiculous to a casual rider, but when tackling Ride the Rockies (435 miles in six days over seven mountain passes!), you don't want to waste any energy. And it seems to be working. After 2 hours on the trainer (~4 hours on the road!), I have improved my average RPMs from 91 to 99 and my speed from around 13 to over 17 mph.

Bottomline, RTR08 is less than two months away and I want to be ready to have the best ride ever. That means I need to lose about 10 more pounds, ride about 500 more miles (prefereably on the road) and, oh yeah, get clearance from my doctor to ride! Stay tuned...



  1. You are, indeed, a serious rider. Keep up the great work. Of course I feel better when you are riding off the road! Mom

  2. D -

    When I did Ironman CDA in 2006, I spent the winter on the trainer. On race day, I completed the bike portion in 5:36 and a major reason for that was trainer time. One day I watched Fellowship of the Ring and half of Two Towers.

    The scenary may not change but the results are worth it.



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