The cold season, with its bad weather, early nightfall and iffy road conditions, can be murder on riding time. If you wound up riding the couch all winter, you need a plan for getting back up to speed fast.
Our guide includes 10 get-started-again rides designed by Will Dillard, who has coached cyclists, triathletes and duathletes to compete in state, national and world championships (ultimatecyclinggroup.com).
One key: Don't try to get it all back at once. For the first few weeks, avoid riding two days in a row.The Plan: A 10-Ride Guide For Regaining Lost Fitness
Ride #1: Ride 10 to 15 miles on level or rolling roads. Use a self-selected cadence—in other words, ride at a pace you can comfortably maintain throughout the ride, avoiding hard efforts.
Ride #2: Go about 50 percent of the distance or time of your last long ride that was less than 50 miles, with a self-selected cadence. To gain leg speed, add three or four spin-ups (see below).
Ride #3. Increase distance or time by 10 to 15 percent of your previous rides using a self-selected cadence. Do four or five spin-ups during the ride.
Ride #4. Repeat previous ride but at 75 to 90 rpm. Do five spin-ups and two power drills (see below).
Ride #5. Increase distance or time by 10 to 15 percent of your previous ride, with an average cadence of 75 to 90 rpm. Complete five spin-ups and three power drills.
Ride #6. Your ride time or distance should be 70 to 80 percent of your last long ride before the layoff, averaging 75 to 90 rpm. Do five spin-ups and four power drills.
Ride #7. Add a hill climb that's at least a half-mile long with a 5 to 6 percent grade. Warm up over a few flat miles, climb using medium gearing, and recover by riding back down. Then repeat once.
Ride #8. Ride a route equal to 90 percent of your last long pre-layoff ride. See if you can ride comfortably at 75 to 90 rpm, mixing in spin-ups and power drills. Climbers, add hills with a 7 to 8 percent grade.
Ride #9. Do the equivalent of your last long pre-winter ride at 80 to 100 rpm over rolling terrain. Add a few spin-ups and power drills. On one flat stretch, maintain 90 to 100 rpm until hills reappear.
Ride #10. Add 10 to 15 percent time or distance—and continue to do that on each subsequent ride, up to the length of your goal event. Continue to mix in some spin-ups and power drills.
On a flat stretch, increase your speed for 30 to 60 seconds, then return to normal pace and fully recover.
On a gentle uphill, shift into your hardest gear and maintain as high a cadence as possible for one minute.