I'm signed up to do a century, a 100-mile bicycle ride, in a little over four weeks. Given the training that I've been doing, what are the best specific things I can do in the next month to get stronger and faster?
posted by bluedaisy to health & fitness (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The background: I'm a woman in my late 30s who is a few pounds overweight. I ride an old ten-speed bike to and from work, only three miles each way, but enough to give me some base miles and lots of time riding in the rain. For about the past six weeks, I've been cycling progressively longer distances on my (better than my ten-speed) road bike, on long weekend rides.
In early March, I rode (by myself) 40 miles, only 500 feet of elevation gain, with a slow average pace of just over 11 mph. Over the next few weeks, I added distance and elevation and got a bit faster. I did a few rides (usually by myself) in all kinds of weather that were 50-65 miles with a slightly faster pace and more elevation.
I also added in a couple of shorter, steeper rides, and for the past few weeks, I've done intervals twice a week and some strength training. I've now done five or so interval sessions of 15-20 minutes. I usually do something like 30 seconds as fast as I can, 30 seconds recovery; then 60 seconds fast, 60 recovery; sometimes up to 90 seconds or sometimes repeating 60. I have a little bike computer but not a heart rate monitor and definitely not a power meter. I was already doing some incline push-ups and light yoga, but recently added in weighted squats sometimes with curls and presses (with light hand weights), calf raises, more ab strengthening, more push-ups, back rows, etc. I'm doing this at home.
Last weekend I rode about 70 miles (with a friend though not drafting the whole way) with 2800 feet of elevation gain and an average pace of 14-14.5 mph. That was my fastest, hardest, longest ride, and I felt better than I have on many other rides. My legs were fatigued but not too sore the following day.
My weakness is climbing: I'm really slow. I can get in my granny gear and keep going, sometimes crawling at 6.5-7mph, but I'd like to be faster and stronger on those climbs. The century has only two climbs, one Cat 5 and one longer, steeper Cat 4 early in the ride, but nothing too terrible. Being overweight doesn't help, and I am losing weight slowly, but I won't be that much lighter in a month.
I'm not worried about making the distance for the century, and I'm planning a few more long rides, including probably at least one with my friend who is riding the century with me. However, I'd like to be able to go faster on the climbs, and I want to do more than just finish my century. I want to feel pretty good at the end.
The bike is comfortable--I've adjusted the seat, got new drop handlebars with a shorter reach, etc.--and I've got my eating and drinking figured out; I'm not bonking or getting dehydrated.
What should I do to get faster on the climbs? I can probably get in a short, steep ride once a week in addition to a longer weekend ride. I won't be joining a gym, but I can do squats with 10 or 15 pounds of weight or other exercises. Or, should I do more intervals? Or do steeper, harder, shorter rides? Or cross-train? I can do all of those things a little bit, but if one would help more (ie intervals harder or more often--details would be great), please let me know.