“In the Spring, a triathlete’s fancy turns to riding.” That’s not a precise quote from Tennyson, but after a long winter of trainer rides and spin classes, you’re probably more than ready to hit the roads and take your bike training outdoors.  But before you do, spring is also the time to revisit your training plan and to check that both bike and rider are prepared to ride safely. 

Safety :  Now is the time to get to your local bike shop for that spring tune-up. For do-it-yourselfers, check and replace as necessary brake and shifter cabling, chain, brake pads, cleats, tires, and tubes. Fully clean and lubricate the drive train and pedals.  Re-torque all bolts. Check the wheels for loose spokes and trueness, and don’t forget to check your road repair kit. The rider probably needs a tune-up as well. Take time on your first rides to polish your bike handling and group riding skills. Don’t jump into the A group, if you’ve been a B rider all winter.  Review the North Carolina bike laws which were revised last July. 

Training Plan: Spring brings numerous group rides and time to socialize with friends that we haven’t seen all winter. But your “A” races in May and June are not far off, so make sure your rides are well integrated with your season objectives and training plan.  Cycling as the longest of the three disciplines and the one that sets up the run will be the key contributor to your triathlon performance. Here are some tips to assure your spring riding supports your training objectives: 

Having a purpose for each ride is fundamental to any training plan.  It helps me to think about three kinds of rides. 

  • Long Rides – Ranging from 2 to 6+ hours, these are key to developing your aerobic and muscular endurance and what has most likely been missing from your winter training. They are also where you practice and perfect the nutrition and hydration strategy that you’ll need for longer races.  Build them up gradually; don’t jump into a century ride if you haven’t done anything longer than 2 hours since last fall. 
  • Key Rides - These are shorter,  “hard” rides that focus on your improvement area and stage of training. They may be directed at muscular strength, lactate threshold, lactate tolerance, anaerobic endurance, or pure speed. Don’t put away your trainer; these are often best done on a trainer where you can fully control the effort and environment.  If you do them outside, alone or with a group, be especially mindful of traffic, road conditions, and other riders.
  • Aerobic Rides - Varying from 30 minutes to several hours, these are the moderate rides that help build your overall aerobic endurance while requiring little to any recovery time.  A common mistake is for athletes to do these too hard, contributing nothing additional to aerobic fitness but requiring recovery time which detracts from future key workouts.  Group rides are a great way to do aerobic rides, but resist the temptation to hammer the hills or race to the county line – the cyclists in the group won’t be with you tomorrow on your long run or doing 200 intervals in the pool. 

So get out and enjoy the road and warmer weather, but do so safely with a keen eye on your  objectives and training plan. 

Spring has Sprung - Preparing for Spring Cycling