Turbo training and speed

For those not able or not wanting to cycle to work in the winter or at other times throughout the year, the indoor trainer is a good alternative. Motivation is often not as great as on the road, and indeed long sessions of more than half and hour can get very boring (try playing music or reading a magazine), but it helps to define exactly what one is trying to achieve and perform high quality routines that put these goals into effect. Some knowledge of ones racing weaknesses, based on performances in previous time trials and races, is important. Judging by my observations in the Tuesday 10’s, and as confirmed in Alexander’s article, there is a tendency for some riders to pedal too slowly and therefore create too much resistance and strain muscles. This is both inefficient and liable to increase the risk of leg injury and cramp. Of course some fit riders can develop very powerful pedal strokes, but for many of us, myself included, increasing average cadence (crank revolutions per minute) would be an advantage and should lead to increased speed. The turbo trainer is particularly useful for speed training but its easy to do when on the road too. An initial ‘test’ should indicate roughly what your cadence is - just pedal at normal speed for a minute, counting the revolutions, and make a note of that number. It is a good idea to keep a log of rides and training sessions for future reference and analysis - there’s a use for one of the diaries you were given at Christmas! If you find your cadence is much less than 90 or 100 there may be room for improvement, especially if you are of smaller build.

A typical exercise designed to improve cadence goes something like this:

warm up for 10 minutes at normal cadence, until you are starting to sweat lightly

pedal for 2 minutes at 10 rpm faster than normal

drop to normal cadence for 3 minutes

pedal for 2 minutes at 20 rpm faster than normal

drop to normal cadence for 3 minutes

pedal for 2 minutes at 30 rpm faster than normal (if you can)

continue as above until you can pedal no faster - your backside will probably be bouncing off the saddle at this point

remember this maximum cadence or record it after the session for future reference

pedal lightly at normal cadence and cool down for 5 minutes or so. Then do some calf stretches.

as a rough guide, limit the session to 6 x 2 minute repeats twice a week at first or if not fully fit, increase to 10 x 2 minute periods twice a week after several weeks. As you get fitter you may wish to increase resistance by changing to a higher gear but do this gradually, building up to the first evening 10 in April.

limit each session to 40 minutes at first, gradually increasing to 1 hour or so.

You should note a gradual rise in maximum cadence, and an increase in the cadence at which you can ride comfortably. Once out on the road it is essential not to resort to your old cadence but to consciously maintain the higher one - whereas on the turbo rolling resistance was constant, it will obviously vary considerably on the rough, undulating road and you need to be aware of this. Hopefully as you gain a higher level of fitness you will develop a higher average cadence which together with Alexander’s advice should mean faster times.

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