Misconceptions and hard to kill old school attitudes can make it tough to convince some cyclists of the right training methods during the offseason. The truth is, the offseason is one of the most important times of the year to work on your deficiencies—and if you are mislead by the wrong training techniques, it can have a major impact on the success of the season ahead.
Let's take a look at three of the most common offseason training myths so you can train smarter this winter.
Myth #1: Riding a Fixed Gear Improves Pedaling Efficiency and Leg Speed
Fixed gear bikes are a great toy for tooling around town, cruising the beach, or propping up for all to see outside the coffee shop, but they have no place in a serious road cyclist's training routine—unless your primary goals include riding on the velodrome.
1. When you practice high cadence training on your road bike, you're forced to recruit muscle fibers that are necessary for quick contractions. On a fixie, the pedals are always spinning in perfect circles at very high speeds no matter how sloppy or inefficient your stroke is. Your muscles aren't required to act—they're really only required to react.
2. Riding a fixed gear is the exact opposite of riding PowerCranks. PowerCranks require your muscle fibers to fire throughout the 360 degrees of a pedal stroke. You're required to push across the top, push down in the front, pull across the bottom and pull up in the back. Your pedal stroke may slow temporarily, but the muscular foundation becomes so solid that it only takes a few weeks of high cadence work on your road bike to turn the strength you've built on the PowerCranks into power.
3. Compared to a fixed gear, even on a regular road bike, your muscle fibers are forced to fire in a very efficient manner. At the very least, you'll have the experience of pushing down and, to some extent, controlling the movement throughout the pedal circle. On a fixed gear, the bike is literally doing all the work for you. You're really not teaching your legs anything but to get tossed around at ridiculous speeds. Think about a gym member who takes indoor cycling classes. They may get their legs whipped around in crazy circles at a cadence of up to 140 revolutions per minute (rpm), but have you ever seen them achieve this on a real bike? Trust me, it doesn't translate.
Myth #2: Small Ring Only
This old school training philosophy is simple: Shift gears to the small chain ring on October 1st and don't shift up until February 1st. The idea is that by keeping your bike on a small gear, you won't be tempted to hammer the group rides or participate in the club sprints. It also emphasizes high cadence riding during the winter, which is supposed to result in a perfect pedal stroke by the time race season comes along.
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