Off-season Cycling Training Tip

The 2011 Ride for Nature may seem like a far-off endeavor as snow blankets the trails and salt and sand crust the roads; however, for individuals looking to better their time from last year or to venture into a longer distance, now is the time to think cycling.

“Pushing 100-miles at that point in the summer may seem pretty daunting, but with the proper training during the off-season it’s an attainable goal,” said Freddie Bexell, Ride for Nature course director, as well as a Cycleops power-based cycling instructor at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery.

“While you don’t want to over train,” continued Bexell, “I’d recommend building a proper aerobic base first and foremost. Also, this is a great time to work on the efficiency of your pedal stroke.” By preparing your body properly, when the roads clear and the temperature warms, hitting the road will be a more enjoyable experience.

There are a number of opportunities cropping up along the peninsula for indoor cycling, such as those classes offered at Nor Door Sport and Cyclery, as well as Spinning classes at the YMCA. Or, if a more solitary workout environment is preferred, the technological advances in road biking trainers make the transition back to the roads in spring seamless.

Aerobic Endurance Workout*

This workout is appropriate for the first four to six weeks of your training program, where most of your time should be spent building an aerobic base. Throughout the workout, try to maintain a smooth pedal circle, focusing on the two dead spots – between 5 and 7 o’clock and 11 and 1 o’clock.

While this workout remains in zones 1 and 2, below is a description of all of the training zones.

Training Zones: perceived exertion; power range; % heart rate; scale of 1 to 10

Zone 1 (Warm up & Recovery): really easy to easy; up to 60% threshold power; below 65% max heart rate; 1 to 2.

Zone 2 (Aerobic): moderate to sort of hard; 61 to 85% of threshold power; 65 to 80% max heart rate; 3 to 4.

Zone 3 (Strength): hard to really hard; 86 to 100% of threshold power; 80 to 85% max heart rate; 5 to 7.

Zone 4 (Anaerobic): really hard to really, really hard; above threshold power output; 85% to 100% max heart rate; 7 to 8.

Max zone: Really, really hard to maximal; all out effort; pushing max heart rate; 9 and 10.

WARMUP (10 minutes total)

• 5 minutes: Zone 1, keeping a higher cadence of 90 to 100 so you are not pushing heavy gears. Slowly add more resistance while remaining in Zone 1.

• 5 minutes: do a series of pedal drills to build your pedal efficiency.

– 15 seconds: right leg, focus on 12 to 6 o’clock; repeat with left leg

– 15 seconds: right leg, focus on 6 to 12 o’clock; repeat with left leg

– 15 seconds: right leg, focus on 3 to 9 o’clock; repeat with left leg

– 15 seconds: right leg, focus on 9 to 3 o’clock; repeat with left leg

– 15 seconds: right leg, focus on the entire pedal stroke; repeat with left leg

– remaining time: focus on the entire pedal stroke with both legs

WORKOUT (45 minutes to an hour)

• 4 to 5 minutes: Zone 2, seated with a cadence of 90 to 95

• 30 second to 1 minute: Zone 2, standing up with a cadence of 85. (Pointers: Keep light pressure on the handle bars and your weight over the pedals. Use your core muscles to balance on the bike, and remember to pull the pedals up from the bottom of the pedal stroke.)

Repeat as many times as is comfortable, slowly building your time both seated and standing as your fitness increases.


• 5 minutes: return to Zone 1, keeping a higher cadence of 90 to 100.

• 2 minutes: Zone 1, slow down your cadence to 80 to 85, focusing on your breathing and lowering your heart rate.

* Please consult a physician before beginning any training program.