RBA: We've heard that some pros pull out the fixed gear bikes about now and focus on smooth, spinning miles. Is that a myth?
Ben: Fixed gear riding is something that is certainly back in vogue again as it is now coming to light that pedaling at higher cadences is a more efficient way of producing power. Lance Armstrong was instrumental in breaking down traditional thinking that slower cadences were more powerful, as he was broadcast winning on top of the world's most famous cycling climbs, pedaling in excess of 110 rpm.
Pedaling efficiently is something all cyclists should be striving on improving, and riding a "fixie" doesn't give you much choice but to learn how to pedal fluently. I know with my own performances that as I build up my form for peak periods throughout the season my cadence increases in suit, my muscle fatigue drops, and I can ride harder and for longer periods.
RBA: There are many different training ideas for this time of year: Some say stay in the little ring, low heart-rate and spin long miles. There are others who use this time for long rides in the big ring to gain strength through the fall and winter. What's your opinion?
Ben: There is a unique balance that each individual needs to find in their training. If, for example, someone has unlimited training time, I believe that long miles interspersed with medium-intensity strength efforts on the bike pave the way for a more consistent season.
In saying that, some people have schedules dictated by outsides influences—such as work! These situations call for more efficient use of their training time by riding predominately in their aerobic zones and throwing in some higher-intensity efforts. The trick here though is to ensure adequate recovery between the sessions to maintain the quality.
Personally, I have tried a few different methods in my nine years as a professional cyclist, and the best years that I have had have been the ones where I spent more time to address my base foundation. Once again, patience proves to be a virtue.
RBA: Can you give us three secret training tips you have for this time of year?
Ben: Sure, here are three...
Lazy Time -- Give yourself some time off the bike, rest up on the structured training and de-stress your mind and body. There will be plenty of stimuli for you later in the year and the fresher and more motivated that you go in to it, the better you will come out.
Core Stability in the Gym -- Squats on swiss balls, one-legged leg presses, planks, dumbbell presses on a ball are all suitable exercises that create a destabilized platform on which your body must harness and increase its core strength and stability and on which muscle imbalances can be addressed.
Save Your Leg Efforts for the Bike -- Strength endurance efforts involve riding up a climb in a big gear with a cadence of between 50 to 70 rpm. This is the most specific strength effort for your legs that a cyclist can ever, ever do and are an exercise that pays massive dividends in your performances.
Ben Day runs a coaching service open to all. For more info on the offseason training, check out his DayByDay Cycle Coaching blog at: www.daybydaycyclecoaching.com.
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