La Vie Velominatus: Train Properly

There are few pleasures in life as great as to achieve a goal, to accomplish something that doesn’t come easily. Great lessons are taught through this activity; we learn that it is our determination and not our doubt that defines our limits. We learn that through studied discipline we can cultivate the skills required to work incrementally towards becoming what we want to be.

This is true for our personal, social and professional lives – and any other aspect that I may have left off. But to achieve our goals is usually a rather complicated mess; it requires introspection, it often requires reliance upon others to do their part or at least not interfere with you doing yours, and it is usually rife with hard choices of long-lasting and difficult to understand consequences.

In its most basic form, Cycling provides us a path to discovery in a less complicated model than do our actual lives. We train our bodies, we become more healthy. We become more healthy, we train more. We become stronger, we go faster. We derive more pleasure from our efforts. We experience reward for sacrifice. We associate progress with the pain of an effort. We enjoy Cycling more. We ride more. We become healthier still. We become stronger still. We go even faster. We suffer more. We associate more pain with a greater sense of achievement. And though it all, we discover it that unlike every other walk of life, in Sport we are islands: what we find here is only what we have brought with us.

Eventually, exercising will become training. The activity becomes richer with the application of the discipline that comes with this rebadging. Exercise is something you do regularly but without structure. With training comes a study of your body and how it responds to stimulus. Long rides have a different effect on the body than do short ones. Successive hard efforts have another effect, as do longer and shorter periods off the bike.

Training Properly requires discipline and patience. It means you don’t just throw your leg over your machine and pedal off to ride along tree-lined boulevards. Training Properly means having a plan for each day. It means heading for the hills one day, and the plains another. It means controlling yourself and not trying to set your best time up the local climb because you feel good that day. Training Properly means restraining yourself on a group ride and not joining in on the town line sprints if your plan doesn’t call for it. Training Properly means leaving for a ride despite the rain falling from the heavens and the loved ones whom you leave at home.

Training Properly comes down you and you alone; much can be learned from books and coaches, but the path is yours to walk. The discovery is yours to experience and to shape into what you are seeking. There are, however, some basics to keep in mind. Also keep in mind I’m not a “Sports Doctor”, “Physiotherapist”, or “Smart”. And never take medical or sporting advice from Some Guy On the Internet.

  1. Break your muscles down, and allow them to build back up. This is the fundamental principle of Training Properly. Hard efforts break your muscles down. You body will respond by building them back stronger than they were before. This process takes time. Be patient.
  2. Observe Rule #5 when appropriate. In accordance with #1 above, laying down the V is handy for breaking the muscles down, but not so much for allowing them to build back up. Lay down the V one day, then give your body a chance to build back up, either through rest or through low-intensity recovery rides.
  3. Learn to listen to your body. There are good pains and bad pains – learn to tell the difference. Good pains include burning lungs, gun aches, road rash, and the like. These pains will lessen during a ride or even go away completely. Proceed carefully, but learn to push through them; if they don’t go away, they get classified as bad pains. Bad pains include different types of knee pain and chronic pains in, for example, your shoulders, back, or neck. Knees are especially sacred and should be looked after carefully; see a physiotherapist for this and if they prescribe time off the bike, take it. Rushing recovery on a sensitive injury may seem tough and in compliance with Rule #5, but may set you back more than being patient and recovering fully. If you suffer from chronic pains, consult a fitting specialist and work on your position.
  4. Train to ride farther than you need to. Incrementally increase the distance of your training, until you can ride farther than you need to. If you are training for a Sportive or race of 140 kilometers, train to ride 160 or 200; you will arrive for your event with the confidence that you can easily handle the ride and will have something in reserve should things not go according to plan.
  5. Save competing for Race Day. Being competitive is for racing, not training. Set goals for a ride, and adhere to them. Don’t chase after a rider who passes you on a climb when you are on a recovery ride. Don’t lift your pace when you see a rider ahead who you think you can catch. If you don’t race, pick a day or two every week where you try to catch every rider you spot on the road – but remember that they should also be adhering to their own training plan; don’t sit on uninvited and don’t hinder their training through your antics.

Be patient. Have discipline. Train Properly. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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207 Replies to “La Vie Velominatus: Train Properly”

  1. What a wonderful bit of philosophy – I must say, the joy of doing something which you can tangibly appreciate the benefits of your efforts, without anyone else there to ruin it, seals it for me

    Other point well made by others, is that one of the most important parts of training is resting properly – I forget this frequently thinking lots of anything is better, but quickly plateau until I stop riding for a few days

    @mcsqueak
    whilst the obvious goals are racing performance, surely anything you feel you might achieve, but might be a bit beyond you, will provide all the target pressure you need? – I set something every 3-4 months over the year to keep the fear level up – mostly Sportives that seem too far, and luckily this year, also the Keeper’s Tour weekend, but if you don’t target something, it seems pretty hard to maintain focus

    @frank
    Bad pains include different types of knee pain and chronic pains in, for example, your shoulders, back, or neck. Knees are especially sacred and should be looked after carefully; see a Physiotherapist for this and if they prescribe time off the bike, take it.
    (Fixed your post, in case any of my patients are reading this….)

  2. Training properly, for me, is striking that very fine balance between “not training”, and overtraining/underresting. As a full-time waiter, the question I always ask myself is, “Did I rest enough since the last workout?”

    And sometimes, the answer was “No!”, but I kept going. After the end of last year’s triathlon season (blasphemy!), I just kept going, setting PRs in both a 5k and a 10k running race just a week later and observing Rule #9 while ascending rainy climbs. And then one day, after a particularly long run followed by an especially nasty shift at work, my knee complained.

    I kept going – I worked through that weekend, and come mid-week, was back at the bottom of my favourite mountain, zipping up the windshell. “I’ll train through, it’s just a small niggle” I repeated to myself with every pedal-stroke, eventually shoving my left knee down with my arm to help it.

    But I broke down completely a week later. We took our bikes down to the (ice-cold) south for a fast-yet-constant-paced ride in the quiet rolling desert hills. I was paired with a mate and his PowerTap, so the effort was steady – and I felt mighty proud that I was matching him (he’s been cycling for far longer). Until, at one point, I froze completely. The knee just refused to move. I dropped, stopped, and tried to move it. Pain with every movement. Humbled, I turned around and made my way back one-footed. Oh, and it just started raining.

    The month and a half of recovery from what turned out to be ITBS was dreadful. My bike was hanging above my bed, a constant reminder, and I faded out of the group. But my return will be worth it – I’ve since returned to nearly the same mileage as before, except my cadence is higher, the stroke smoother, and power greater. I fixed issues that I couldn’t fix without a complete break of habit. That, and I treated myself to a sweet pair of Mavic Zxelliums, in white of course.

  3. Excellent piece frank and great comments added by all BTW.

    The common theme from everyone is about getting to know one’s body, be it how it responds to the training/riding effort placed on it or how well it responds to the chocolate, donuts and booze being consumed. Once you have developed and nurtured that relationship, the results will be forthcoming. Oh yeah, rest that thing as well. I think that is the most important part of the regime.

    @Marcus
    for that price, do you want me to send any business your way? May help with your training? It’s equivalent effort to a 4K run or something isn’t it?

  4. @roadslave525
    We come from a very similar place, I think, but you seem to have learnt the lessons of self control that I need to get my head round.

    In that ideal world that we all believe will happen next week when we’ve got work, the family or the weather under control I’d ride five days a week with the sort of mix between high and low intensity that you talk about albeit with a weekly full gas session. Unfortunately, I’m no more likely to get my shit in order than Greece will cut public spending so I probably average two proper sessions per week and for what ever reason I generally make sure that it’s the interval sessions that get done. Subsequently, I spend a pretty good chunk of my training time buried in Zone 4 with Zone 5 coming in second.

    It’s gotten me good and fit, fitter than I’ve been in the years since I left school so it’s not all bad but I am sensing that I’ve reached a plateaux and I’m finding it a bit harder to motivate myself which I think is a consequence of the plateaux and the fact that there is only so much of your time that you can spend on the rollers.

    The good news is that decent weather and lighter nights are on the way so it should be easier to get out and ride longer and slower. The bad news is that works getting busier so I’m not sure that evenings are the answer. I’m going to start racing in a week so that will give me a real good idea of where I am with everything.

    I’m going to have to have a look at that book you mention. I can get pretty good at eating well in the summer but in this sort of weather, it’s not so easy – sushi and salad is not quite as appealing as a nice baguette and some soup.

  5. @tessar
    Welcome, and I feel your pain, mate. Overnight (literally) I went from preparing to take on the world sporting-wise to spending the next 12 weeks in a wheelchair. It is very difficult to wait out your injury, but worthwhile in the end.

    The point about breaking bad habits is also well taken; sometimes a real break is worth a lot. But similarly, that break can also lead to other bad habits, like eating and drinking too much.

    Be patient. Have discipline. VLVV.

  6. @Buck Rogers

    @cal

    I admit that I’m somewhat afraid of getting burned out by all of this excruciating fun. Has this happened to any of us? Since I’m posting here, I’m obviously keen to know why it might have happened and what it took to get back into it.

    I’ll raise my hand as well on this one.

    Road and raced and followed it religiously for about 7 years from ’87 until around ’93/94. Awesome at first. Loved the racing, training, was doing well, moving up cat’s and then I started to put a ton of pressure on myself, really started over training and also started to go backwards in race results. Finally just burned out and was dropped early in a race one day and I turned the bike around, went back the the start, put it in the car and did not ride again for about ten years.

    Not sure what got me back on, just bought a Lemond CX bike one day and started riding again. That was in ’06 and now I am in heaven again on the bike, have been for the last 6 years, and am only getting stronger each year. I think the key is that I now know that I will never be a pro and I am just enjoying the heck out of it.

    That’s almost exactly how it went for me; Started in 90-91, Catted up quickly (from IV to II over 3 seasons). Then I devoted all of my non working time to being on the bike. Killed two relationships (with girls in case there’s any confusion @Marko). Then while dating what I thought was the perfect girl for my sport, a flight attendant who was gone 2+ weeks a month, I really ramped up the training/ racing with my sights set on Europe. I was f’n flying fast, fit. I did a roughly 300K ride one day (Bridge of the Gods loop twice, 30Kph ave for you locals), felt great, then raced 2 days later with a good result. Rode home from the race and got the “you and that fucking bike” argument for the nth time (this was 1998). Hung the bike in the garage and got back on it 2 years ago. But it really wasn’t the argument, or the girl. I was totally burned out on being on the bike, even though I was almost ready to make the leap.
    Point being, it has to be fun ultimately, even through the suffering. When it becomes a chore that you have to do, the reason to ride or race is lost.

  7. @The Oracle
    @Dino

    A Wisconsin Mini-Cogal has been planned to coordiate with Steampunk and Josh’s visit to madison. Wiscot is planning another effort in May.

  8. @Kyle
    If the mini cogal needs more riders I would be honored to join since I am new to Madison and need fellow cyclists to ride with

  9. I ride to look fantastic! I have to slow down when I ride by reflective windows and admire the blinding awesomeness that is me.

    And then I wake up. Oh well.

    Honestly, my goal is to have awesome numbers when I visit my doctor in July. Last July, my body fat percentage was 11%. This year’s goal is to be in single digits, about 7-9%. I weighed 64 kilos. That’s where I want to be this July, but I gained a bit over the holidays and I haven’t ridden enough to melt it away yet. I’ll be 45 years old for my next check-up. Speed and strength on my bike are unintentional results of trying to hit my medical numbers. Or maybe it’s the other way around. For me, I HATE the gym. So I ride. It’s not a chore like it was when I raced.

    Knowing both sides of my family have massive histories of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments and diseases gives me all the motivation I seem to need right now. That and I had a check-up a couple of years ago (having been a cubicle farmer for almost 18 years) when I weighed too much, I felt like shit, and my doctor prescribed drugs for high cholesterol. I was heading down the same path that my family had already paved. So I got back on my bike after 20 years of sitting, eating BBQ, drinking beer, and watching TV.

    Then I became a Velominatus. Then I got my LOOK. Lo and behold, I got healthy, I got almost fast and almost strong (way closer than two months from peaking), and I ended up with excellent medical numbers.

    I slacked off quite a bit since early November. Now I have a few months to get back to an excellent physical state before my next check-up. That’s why I ride. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t ride if I called it training.

  10. I had a few days off the bike this week as I had come down with a cold.

    I’m not worried about the fitness, that won’t make any difference, but I am worried that inwardly I was happy not to go out. I would have done it had I been fit, but it would have been with a less than joyful spring in my step.

    I don’t know what it is – I think I need some change, as I’ve been doing the same things for a year since I moved to the house I’m in now. Trouble is I don’t have much choice – very limited routes, they’re all flat, and I have nobody to train with (apart from our Friday group rides). And there’s no regular racing – a couple of events a year (one of the reasons I did the triathlon cycle last week).

    I’ve tried to find some partners in the compound where I live but so far they have all been very new and very slow and it just doesn’t work.

    I was pinning my hopes on getting a power meter when Garmin bring out their pedal system. To give me some difference and maybe change the training a bit. But that’s not happening for another six months.

    At the moment the Keepers’ Tour is the only thing getting me out of bed and on my bike. I suspect I will come crashing to earth after that.

    It’s nothing new I guess…

    “I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth. And indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! How like an angel in apprehension. How like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me, no, nor women neither. Nor women neither. “

  11. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    @Jeff in PetroMetro

    I ride to look fantastic! I have to slow down when I ride by reflective windows and admire the blinding awesomeness that is me.

    And then I wake up. Oh well.

    Honestly, my goal is to have awesome numbers when I visit my doctor in July. Last July, my body fat percentage was 11%. This year’s goal is to be in single digits, about 7-9%. I weighed 64 kilos. That’s where I want to be this July, but I gained a bit over the holidays and I haven’t ridden enough to melt it away yet. I’ll be 45 years old for my next check-up. Speed and strength on my bike are unintentional results of trying to hit my medical numbers. Or maybe it’s the other way around. For me, I HATE the gym. So I ride. It’s not a chore like it was when I raced.

    Knowing both sides of my family have massive histories of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments and diseases gives me all the motivation I seem to need right now. That and I had a check-up a couple of years ago (having been a cubicle farmer for almost 18 years) when I weighed too much, I felt like shit, and my doctor prescribed drugs for high cholesterol. I was heading down the same path that my family had already paved. So I got back on my bike after 20 years of sitting, eating BBQ, drinking beer, and watching TV.

    Then I became a Velominatus. Then I got my LOOK. Lo and behold, I got healthy, I got almost fast and almost strong (way closer than two months from peaking), and I ended up with excellent medical numbers.

    I slacked off quite a bit since early November. Now I have a few months to get back to an excellent physical state before my next check-up. That’s why I ride. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t ride if I called it training.

    I also took a 20yr FREE LAP off the bike. Now that I have returned to cycling (44), it has returned me to my gritty self. I thrive on cycling again, whether riding or racing — I love it. I can tell my wife that I love her and turn right around (right behind me) and vow that I love my bike “very much!” I did renew (USCF) USA Cycling, but still enjoy growing the local weekly group ride as well. Some are racing and others should be racing. As much as myself and other riders commit to the group rides, I also drool blood when throwing out challenges in a race (dramatization). I truly have wrestled with the same phases, ups and downs — money, equipment, hours. And appreciate the off-the-cuff honest way the Velominati can express this with candor. A meaty blend of candor! I only can add to the total sentiment that all I have right now is a great feeling. “I am part of a bike race and that alone is thrilling — and sanctioned!” And in the days that follow, there are always rewards to ride with great local cyclist — all manner of cyclist. Then back to racing !! And thank Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx for the Velominati !!

  12. @scaler911
    But Scaler, WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE GIRL?
    (sorry, I was missing those days when certain posts were in all caps)

  13. @ChrisO

    I had a few days off the bike this week as I had come down with a cold.

    I’m not worried about the fitness, that won’t make any difference, but I am worried that inwardly I was happy not to go out. I would have done it had I been fit, but it would have been with a less than joyful spring in my step.

    I don’t know what it is – I think I need some change, as I’ve been doing the same things for a year since I moved to the house I’m in now. Trouble is I don’t have much choice – very limited routes, they’re all flat, and I have nobody to train with (apart from our Friday group rides). And there’s no regular racing – a couple of events a year (one of the reasons I did the triathlon cycle last week).

    I’ve tried to find some partners in the compound where I live but so far they have all been very new and very slow and it just doesn’t work.

    I was pinning my hopes on getting a power meter when Garmin bring out their pedal system. To give me some difference and maybe change the training a bit. But that’s not happening for another six months.

    At the moment the Keepers’ Tour is the only thing getting me out of bed and on my bike. I suspect I will come crashing to earth after that.

    It’s nothing new I guess…

    “I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth. And indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! How like an angel in apprehension. How like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me, no, nor women neither. Nor women neither. “

    This post reminded me that I used to have ‘Emerson training moments’ on the bike. I need to start riding in Gilbert again — South Carolina.

  14. @Kyle

    @The Oracle
    @Dino

    A Wisconsin Mini-Cogal has been planned to coordiate with Steampunk and Josh’s visit to madison. Wiscot is planning another effort in May.

    Is anyone going to be around to ride in Madison 3/24-3/27? Going to be visiting w pretty open schedule for riding. Gonna be in Asheville for mini-cogal the weekend y’all are doing the Madison mini, if I understand correctly.

  15. Pretty crazy to see how many of you have taken significant time away from cycling. Glad to have you back! I played the same sport from the age of 7-22, now haven’t even touched it since college. Sometimes I almost feel guilty. “It’s spring, that use to mean the start of the season…shouldn’t I feel more excited?” I think, like some of you, I just got burned out and let it dominate my life. I sure as heck would have had stronger marks in college without it! I also really didn’t get along with my college coach, personality-wise or philosophy of the game-wise either. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to it.

    But, the good news is that I don’t really miss it. I’m having too much fun developing as a cyclist.

    Great one, Frank! Because of my experience with over-training and sapping the fun with my other sporting pursuit, I try to always, always keep cycling fun at the most basic level. Sure, I like to train, I went to get stronger, etc., but when I feel myself getting too crazy I take a step back. Heck, I only could ride for three hours last Saturday because I watched the Strada Bianche in the morning. Should I have been riding more today? No, fuck that. I woke up and watched an awesome race in bed. That’s fun.

    When I’m feel slow or fat or unenthusiastic, I try to recall how far I’ve come on the bike in a few years at it. Damn, not that long ago breaking 35kms was a major accomplishment. Now it might be part of a warmup!

    Since I truly trained for other sports for so long, I don’t want to force my training too much on the bike, but rather I like to toe the line between “riding” and “training.” Vary my routes, my rides, my intensity, watch what I consume, do group rides when necessary, but I am not about to start charting intervals, buy a power meter, etc. That’s just not for me. Thankfully, just doing a variety of riding has allowed me to progress pretty nicely.

    Cool one here & great timing with the Big Day on Sunday…say hello to spring! As our pal over at BRR so eloquently put it: “TIME TO STEP UP, FUCKTARDS. WINTER’S ALMOST DONE.”

  16. No battles over my soul. My soul is won by cycling! And the last bit there on the previous post !!

  17. @xyxax

    @scaler911
    But Scaler, WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE GIRL?
    (sorry, I was missing those days when certain posts were in all caps)

    Well, as it turns out, while she was away for 2 weeks at a time, she was living up to the common “Stewardess” (they hate that term) stereotype. I was a sailor in one of many ports.
    She was pretty cute though.

  18. @tessar

    Training properly, for me, is striking that very fine balance between “not training”, and overtraining/underresting. As a full-time waiter, the question I always ask myself is, “Did I rest enough since the last workout?”

    And sometimes, the answer was “No!”, but I kept going. After the end of last year’s triathlon season (blasphemy!), I just kept going, setting PRs in both a 5k and a 10k running race just a week later and observing Rule #9 while ascending rainy climbs. And then one day, after a particularly long run followed by an especially nasty shift at work, my knee complained.

    I kept going – I worked through that weekend, and come mid-week, was back at the bottom of my favourite mountain, zipping up the windshell. “I’ll train through, it’s just a small niggle” I repeated to myself with every pedal-stroke, eventually shoving my left knee down with my arm to help it.

    But I broke down completely a week later. We took our bikes down to the (ice-cold) south for a fast-yet-constant-paced ride in the quiet rolling desert hills. I was paired with a mate and his PowerTap, so the effort was steady – and I felt mighty proud that I was matching him (he’s been cycling for far longer). Until, at one point, I froze completely. The knee just refused to move. I dropped, stopped, and tried to move it. Pain with every movement. Humbled, I turned around and made my way back one-footed. Oh, and it just started raining.

    The month and a half of recovery from what turned out to be ITBS was dreadful. My bike was hanging above my bed, a constant reminder, and I faded out of the group. But my return will be worth it – I’ve since returned to nearly the same mileage as before, except my cadence is higher, the stroke smoother, and power greater. I fixed issues that I couldn’t fix without a complete break of habit. That, and I treated myself to a sweet pair of Mavic Zxelliums, in white of course.

    I fucking like the tale of awesomeness a lot! And it ends with new white shoes!

    Time off for many of us seems to come only when we are forced, but it can be really great. I was traveling last year for eight weeks in February and March. Didn’t swing my leg over a bike once. I came home and actually felt like I hadn’t lost much, can’t even recall any prolonged period of suffering to get it back. Breaks can be really good for you.

  19. @Buck Rogers

    @scaler911
    Feel free to share any photos that you might have of her, you know, to get back at her and all.

    Ha! Ya I’m sure the VMH would love that, me digging around in the photo box, looking for a photo to scan. I’ll see what I can do.

  20. @scaler911
    Of course, the real way to get back at her is to get the really Compromising pics, you know.

    On that note, good night all, especially a propos with this thread and rest and all!

  21. @ChrisO
    If you are Hamlet, does that collectively make the rest of us Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? If so, not very nice.

    And because you are the first one to my knowledge to quote Willy in these parts you get this

    Wish I knew how to embed videos.

  22. @Ron
    That first para basically sums up where I was a few years ago, all it needed was a major injury in said sport that helped make cutting the cord easier. Even before it happened I was already resenting the structured 2-3 training sessions during the week, all day Saturday taken up either watching the club’s other teams play, playing & then the inevitable debrief/socialising (read drinking).

    About 12-18 months later & I’m trying to figure out why I’m so lethargic when it dawns that for the first time since I was in single digits I’m not getting any regular exercise. I’d always kept an eye out for cycling results & watched the tour each year after having it ingrained in me as a kid, kept hearing my two best mates talking about going riding & with the rise and rise of the TDU here I figured how about actually doing this riding thing instead of just thinking about it.

    Nearly 2 years later I’m definitely hooked on riding, but even reading the article up top I already knew it’s going to take a whole lot before I’m at the “structured” training point ever again. I know some of the aspects of how I ride like setting goals within a time frame (k’s per week, climbing dist per month, etc) or working towards taking part in particular events could be considered training to an extent but at the minute I’m loving the fact that when I feel like it, I ride & if I’m not feeling it then it doesn’t happen.

    The way I look at it at the moment is that my 3 pastimes I love are riding, eating great food & drinking great wine/beer/liquor. The more I enjoy the first, the easier it is to justify the other two.

  23. @BuckRogers
    I am a bit like that at the moment. Combination of things – hard to be away from the family, as I’m sure you will appreciate, and work is a bit of a pain too.

    I need to get back home but fuck knows how. As I said to my boss last week, I was sorry to miss seeing my daughter in her school play, on the other hand if she wasn’t at the private school that being out here pays for she wouldn’t be doing one.

    C’est la vie.

    @Marcus
    Pretty much any quote from Hamlet is going to involve someone who winds up dead ! Except the Norwegian dude and he only appears at the end, so I guess that’s Thor Hushovd.

    Back on topic though, I’m intrigued by this: “One piece of training wisdom that took me a very long time and about 4 different sports to understand – you only get faster when you are off your bike.”

    What do you mean ? Having enough rest and recovery time ?

  24. @Marcus

    @ChrisO
    If you are Hamlet, does that collectively make the rest of us Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? If so, not very nice.

    And because you are the first one to my knowledge to quote Willy in these parts you get this

    Wish I knew how to embed videos.

    Get the right clip first, motherfucker…

  25. @Marcus

    I have been very lax in my riding lately – due to a number of factors such as sloth, indolence and laziness.
    Not coincidentally (I think), over the last 6 months I haven’t been getting a plan from a guy i pay to give me ride plans (Aussie Road & TT champ, Olympian – so he knows his bones). Without someone to “answer to”, I let things slide, then riding 6 days a week dropped back to 4 and dropped even further. And before you know it, I was a street hustler giving it away to strangers for $20 a throw. Actually, that last bit isn’t true – its another story entirely.
    I have a two day bike ride/race coming up at the end of this month. Pain is on its way.
    One piece of training wisdom that took me a very long time and about 4 different sports to understand – you only get faster when you are off your bike.

    I was in Melbourne for a few days and made a point out of crash tackling Lawyers riding around on Looks when I saw them (more than you’d expect but fuck em they deserved it) but no Marcus. I guess your new job on the allys kept you off your bike. And no, I didn’t run into him there either, before some other smartarse pops up.

    @brett
    Whoa, guess who’s got their third leg on? Jeepers.

  26. @Nate

    @Dr CFor bad pains it’s probably also worth getting your bike fit checked over.

    Whilst I’m totally unqualified to do that, I’ll happily try, because it is much more interesting, otherwise, see your physio, as your Doc is probably out riding his bike (or wants to be)

  27. Before I read through the comments and find something to be argumentative about, I just wanted to say that is a Great Article.

  28. @frank

    @grumbledook

    I wish I had enough time to Train Properly. But my work life is already organized and planned, causing a lot of stress, so I don’t want to ruin my precious leisure time by making plans and setting stretched goals. I ride my bikes whenever I find the time, and I like to ride them fast! Your rule_#3 is my number 1 since many, many years. It helped me to improve my performance while investing less time each year in training. But your rule_#5 only applies to cyclists that regularly take part in races. Since I don’t, I try to make the training with my companions as competitive as I can.

    Hard training rides are fun and very much valued – provided everyone in the group understands what the groups (or at least your) goals are for the ride. What I’m talking about in item #5 there is this sickly habit that people have of lifting the pace on a casual ride until suddenly everyone is riding á bloc instead of observing their plan.

    If you’re not racing and going on the Rule #5 Wednesday Night hammer fest, that is every bit the time to ride your guts out. But joining the Thursday friends and family Casually Deliberate ride and getting competitive with all the people out there just trying to enjoy a relaxed day, you’re missing the point.

    Another excellent point – thanks for bringing that up.

    You’re completely right. Luckily, my cycling friends know me well. And since I usually plan and lead the “Tuesday rides” for our group, I also take care that everyone has a clear picture what the ride will be like before we start. Since I live in an area with plenty of (shorter) climbs, we usually take it easy in the flat, connecting sections and only “declare race” on a few of the climbs.

    As mentioned, my time for cycling is pretty limited. So usually my body has enough time to recover. The biggest challenge for me is not to get slower in the next couple of years. And with time being the limiting factor, I need to focus on proper intensity since I just cannot do more km’s. (An excellent read dealing with this topic is “The Time-Crunched Cyclist” by Chris Carmichael.)

    A couple of years ago, I discovered that cyclocross would be the ideal cycling discipline for my situation. And I can highly recommend it to everyone who likes to ride the pain but has too little time to train properly for road racing. CX races usually last less than 1 hour (except for elite riders and pro’s). So you don’t need a lot of 3–4 hour rides to be prepared properly, plus you can compensate some lack of fitness with superior riding skills (at least in the hobby and C/B amateur categories). But you can still enjoy the competition in a bicycle race. Of course, I still do both, road cycling and cx. But with road cycling alone, my performance would be much worse than it is now.

  29. I like how this thread has morphed from a discussion of training into a discussion of “bike-life” balance. Such a great topic for us Velominati, many of us whom (I sense) are in similar positions in life–30’s or 40’s (or older), family, work, lots of commitments, and a love of cycling. I already have a hard time fitting the cycling into my schedule (have to get up in the wee hours of the morning to fit it in during the week), and thank Merckx the VMH is pretty supportive, because she recognizes (bless her insightful heart) that the physical amd spiritual benefits I get from regular cycling makes me a better person.

    Right now we’re in a position where my wife can move up to full time from part-time for a few years, make a bunch of extra money and get her student loans paid off, which obviously would put us and our kids in a much better position in the long run. We’re both going to have to give up things to make this work, and, as much as I hate to admit it, weekday riding may be one of those casualties. It sucks, but whenever the duties of the Velominatus Paterfamilias and Rule #11 collide, the VP is going to win out. In the face of that, this thread is one I’ll remember; so many of the comments are really all about remembering to enjoy the time we have on the bike, rather than lamenting the fact that we are not on the bike.

    VLVV*

    *(I saw roadslave use this Velomiscrit abbreviation, and I move that it be immediately added to the Lexicon).

  30. @Marcus

    @ChrisO
    If you are Hamlet, does that collectively make the rest of us Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? If so, not very nice.

    And because you are the first one to my knowledge to quote Willy in these parts you get this

    Wish I knew how to embed videos.

    OK, I figured it out now. And that is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Chapeau.

  31. @gaswepass

    @Kyle

    @The Oracle
    @Dino

    A Wisconsin Mini-Cogal has been planned to coordiate with Steampunk and Josh’s visit to madison. Wiscot is planning another effort in May.

    Is anyone going to be around to ride in Madison 3/24-3/27? Going to be visiting w pretty open schedule for riding. Gonna be in Asheville for mini-cogal the weekend y’all are doing the Madison mini, if I understand correctly.

    Unfortunately, I have our first mandatory team meeting / training ride on 3/24, but I would suggest treking up to Ripon,WI to ride in the Red Hawks Spring Classic on 3/24. Best $10 to $20 you can spend supporting the College bike team. And they mean it when they say to leave your carbon hoops at home!
    http://www.facebook.com/events/288035971258846/

    I am sure I will be recovery rolling like I am nearly peaking on 3/25 but in the Beer City, not little Moscow.

  32. @frank
    Not sure if your kidding Frank but the guy in The Oracle’s picture is William Shakespeare aka The Bard.

  33. @grumbledook

    A couple of years ago, I discovered that cyclocross would be the ideal cycling discipline for my situation. And I can highly recommend it to everyone who likes to ride the pain but has too little time to Train Properly for road racing. CX races usually last less than 1 hour (except for elite riders and pro’s). So you don’t need a lot of 3-4 hour rides to be prepared properly, plus you can compensate some lack of fitness with superior riding skills (at least in the hobby and C/B amateur categories). But you can still enjoy the competition in a bicycle race. Of course, I still do both, road cycling and cx. But with road cycling alone, my performance would be much worse than it is now.

    This is one of the reasons I’m thrilled about CX – also the automatic interval training it will give. As much as I love hitting a climb full gas or rolling along tout a droit, structured interval training is not something I manage to be disciplined about.

    The Time-Crunched Cyclist; I hate Chris Carmichael (for no reason other than that he was Pharmy’s coach) but this is an interesting new approach to training that lots of people are talking about – more intensity, less distance, etc. Maybe I’ll try it some day, but it sounds like hocus-pocus to me, who has spent his life doing super long rides (10-12 hours) to get fit.

    I love the long ride; the determination it takes me to not climb off is payed back in spades at the sense of satisfaction of having finished it. Take my local Seattle 200km-er; I ride by my house three separate times before heading out for the last leg; when its pouring rain, the temptation is strong. And I love the way it brings you closer to your machine. The way your body feels when it’s been pedaling all day is sublime!

    @The Oracle

    VLVV*
    *(I saw roadslave use this Velomiscrit abbreviation, and I move that it be immediately added to the Lexicon).

    Done.

  34. @frank

    The Time-Crunched Cyclist; I hate Chris Carmichael (for no reason other than that he was Pharmy’s coach) but this is an interesting new approach to training that lots of people are talking about – more intensity, less distance, etc. Maybe I’ll try it some day, but it sounds like hocus-pocus to me, who has spent his life doing super long rides (10-12 hours) to get fit.

    I’m a few weeks into one of his training plans right now and I will say I’ve seen dramatic results. Better cardio across the board and more sustained power. Granted these things may not be long-term helpful or would have happened simply via riding more but having a plan (do this at x effort for y time) with my limited time (work, family) has been really helpful. Which I know was your whole point with this article.

  35. @frank
    Last week on the BBC a former GP turned presenter was involved in an exercise experiment.

    On an exercise bike he did 3 x 20 second all out efforts, 3 times a week for 6 weeks.

    In terms of health benefits he was shocked by the results. Evidently it’s better than going running or to the gym for hours.

    Not sure how it relates to cyclists who want to race etc but very interesting.

  36. @frank

    @Marcus

    @ChrisO
    If you are Hamlet, does that collectively make the rest of us Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? If so, not very nice.

    And because you are the first one to my knowledge to quote Willy in these parts you get this

    Wish I knew how to embed videos.

    OK, I figured it out now. And that is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Chapeau.

    Presuming you don’t mean the Samuel L Jackson… this is a great rendition of it, from my favourite film of all time.

    http://youtu.be/6zEVZGuU3BU

  37. I have to admit that while I was out of action due to my knee, it was nice to sleep late on Sundays, get up whenever I wanted to, make my espresso, and casually read the morning news.

    I’m really looking forward to getting back into it. However, as many others have posted, there’s a fine line between having a passion for something, and being completely consumed by it. As much as I love cycling, (and I DO want to continue to improve both speed and distance-wise), I also want to keep it in balance with my life. I have a career, have an 11-year-son I like to spend time with, and I play guitar and sing in a rock ‘n roll cover band with four other old geezers like me. All of the above will (hopefully) keep me young in mind, and body.

  38. @brianc

    @frank

    The Time-Crunched Cyclist; I hate Chris Carmichael (for no reason other than that he was Pharmy’s coach) but this is an interesting new approach to training that lots of people are talking about – more intensity, less distance, etc. Maybe I’ll try it some day, but it sounds like hocus-pocus to me, who has spent his life doing super long rides (10-12 hours) to get fit.

    I’m a few weeks into one of his training plans right now and I will say I’ve seen dramatic results. Better cardio across the board and more sustained power. Granted these things may not be long-term helpful or would have happened simply via riding more but having a plan (do this at x effort for y time) with my limited time (work, family) has been really helpful. Which I know was your whole point with this article.

    I’ve been on the Carmichael plan for three years, now. It’s definitely not hocus pocus. It is, however, impossible to do without a nice programmable HRM or power meter. It’s also not for everyone, as there are some limitations to the method. It works on a 12 week cycle, and due to the extreme loads placed on the body during certain stages of the program, a good four week break is a necessity between cycles. It works extremely well for me, but it requires absolute dedication and quite a few hours of programming into my Garmin (the first time you set up the programs).

  39. @brianc

    @frank

    The Time-Crunched Cyclist; I hate Chris Carmichael (for no reason other than that he was Pharmy’s coach) but this is an interesting new approach to training that lots of people are talking about – more intensity, less distance, etc. Maybe I’ll try it some day, but it sounds like hocus-pocus to me, who has spent his life doing super long rides (10-12 hours) to get fit.

    I’m a few weeks into one of his training plans right now and I will say I’ve seen dramatic results. Better cardio across the board and more sustained power. Granted these things may not be long-term helpful or would have happened simply via riding more but having a plan (do this at x effort for y time) with my limited time (work, family) has been really helpful. Which I know was your whole point with this article.

    I’m going with 20MP, a training plan by Kirk Wilett, former pro cyclist and now a ER MD. He’s the real deal (I’ve toed up next to him many times), and the research is sound. This’ll be my first season using it, but it’s much simpler than TTCC.

    http://bicyclepaper.com/articles/320-Less-is-More-For-Former-Pro-Kirk-Willett-Less-Miles-Means-More-Performance-

  40. Saving The V only for intervals during my first century training takes a great amount of discipline.

    When I’m out on my long ride, it’s difficult to stay with the game plan when I round a curve and see a hill that I know I’m only 3 seconds behind the next guy on Strava. Apply The V, crest the hill, and curse at myself for lack of discipline.

    But then again…there is the satisfaction of moving up a notch or two on the leader board.

  41. @SuperFed

    Saving The V only for intervals during my first century training takes a great amount of discipline.

    When I’m out on my long ride, it’s difficult to stay with the game plan when I round a curve and see a hill that I know I’m only 3 seconds behind the next guy on Strava. Apply The V, crest the hill, and curse at myself for lack of discipline.

    But then again…there is the satisfaction of moving up a notch or two on the leader board.

    Don’t deny yourself those moments of fun, man. It’s absolutely worth moving up those leader boards.

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