Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fast Track Fitness Training for Puny Wimps

Years ago Al and I were riding a week long, 70-90 mile a day tour with a few hundred other cycling friends. An otherwise pleasant guy became a prime jerk one day, hassling me at every rest stop with the "bunny foo foo" song. It punched my buttons - and that quite overjoyed his little mind. The next day he discovered that he could punch the same button by just doing the popping sound effect from the song whenever he was within earshot of me. (Hysterical.) I consider it a massive tribute to the fine moral training of my upbringing that the guy was both alive and still in possession of his tender male parts at the end of the tour. But my take-away from this experience was that I was way too sensitive to the fact that I was a puny wimp of a cyclist. I ride 100 per cent of my time with a guy so I understand the sport's gender differences. I also understand that I am not a physically talented athlete. (I am smack dab in the center of average, sitting comfortably at the apex of the bell curve, as it were.) After giving the matter a little thought, I decided to alter my training goals to accent the strengths I had.

Riding with Al I realized that my relative strengths were cardio, tenacity, and my love of crazy fast descents (which I think of as playing with the downhill stretches or "free rides"). So here is the training system I came up with for an aging puny wimp.

First, select some 20-30 mile local loops. I think of them as my "time trial" loops.

Next, remember that interval training will give you the biggest bang for your training time buck. Ride the loops aiming for moderate intensity with intervals at high intensity. (I did some research and discovered that perceived intensity was just as good as a heart rate monitor. Moderate intensity for me is a cardio level where I am breathing deeply and evenly - regardless of whether my heart rate is soaring or just going kinda fast.)

Next, since I ride on flat pedals minus clips or straps, I focus on constant, even pedal pressure. This means that I can vary intensity with my gears, with cadence, and by decreasing the amount of contact between my butt and my saddle. The last is an old mountain biking training routine. Ride a course without sitting down or standing up. (I knew someone who actually removed the bike's seat post and bike seat before heading out for training rides. Extreme? Yes. Effective? Very.)

Today Al and I completed our last 20 mile training ride. Tomorrow we start the 25 mile route. With a bit of luck, we should be back at our old fitness level in a week or two.

One picture. My very favorite (ever) event t-shirt from a ride. The crazy flamingo logo belongs to the Florida Freewheelers bicycle club. Love it...