Single-gear Riding

Single-gear Riding (SGR) is a powerful exercise in learning how to manage effort level on the road. Instead of shifting gears to compensate for terrain changes, SGR teaches you how to use internal gears to deal with hills, descents and flats.

This year, make it a priority to ride with your bike instead of against it.

After your warmup spin, simply pick a gear for your main set and stick with it. It's that simple. To be safe, choose the small front ring and a middle gear on the back cog. Stay in this gear regardless of what the road throws at you.

This isn't a time-trial workout; I think of this as a variation on a weekly endurance ride of 2.5 hours or more.

SGR teaches you:

  • How to "roll into a hill," using momentum to start the climbing process.
  • The nuances of climbing while seated regularly or on the back of your seat.
  • How to roll into a standing climbing position and keep your momentum.
  • How to pedal quickly on a descent.
  • How to recruit different muscle groups.
  • How to manage your internal gears.

Since you can't shift, you'll learn to moderate your effort based on the terrain instead of just hammering your way through the ride. Your first attempts at SGR will be a bit rough (shifting is a hard habit to break!), but as you progress you'll eventually erase the dead spots in your riding.

Patrick McCrann, author of Iron-distance and marathon training plans for athletes of all ability levels, is a seven-time Ironman finisher and avid endurance runner. He blogs weekly, offers various training tips and free support through the PTS newsgroup. This info is on his website:

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