Crash Training Guidelines for Cyclists

The Crash Block

Once you begin your crash training, try to stick to your plan. While you can have some deviations, be very cautious about getting tangled up with riders that are not doing the training with you.

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In other words, if you have been riding for three days on your own or with your group and other people try to leech onto your ride; do not allow them to dictate the pace if you allow them to join you. They do not have the accumulated fatigue you have in your legs. An unchecked ego can be goaded into riding too hard on an aerobic ride day. If you haven't invited random riders to join you, ignore them if necessary.

In order for you to reap the optimal benefits from your training block, you must have excellent nutrition, hydration and sleep habits before, during and after the crash week. Staying fueled and hydrated during the ride helps with recovery. The better you recover each day, the more quality you can give to the next day's ride.

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The pros get daily massage to help speed recovery. You might have access to one or two massages during your crash block—or none. If you don't have access to a masseuse, you can do your own leg massage. There are books and videos covering self-massage, or you can mimic recovery massage motions that professionals have used on your legs in the past. I prefer to use a massage oil with arnica.

If you are doing the crash training with a group of people, more than likely there will be individual differences in the amount of intensity that each person can handle on any given day. Since every body handles the stress and recovery slightly different, be sure to adjust ride intensity, or length, so that you get the most out of the training block.

After the Crash Block

When you finish the crash training week, even after a rest day, expect to feel flat. Your legs will likely feel heavy and you will have an overall feeling of vague fatigue. This is normal.

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Plan to cut your volume of training and intensity after the crash week to your normal recovery week hours, or lower. How many days it takes you to recover depends on several items. For a list of items that affect recovery, see this column titled "Determining Your Race Recovery."

For a seven-day crash block of riding, typical recovery time is seven to 14 days.

Bicycle Tours

If you would like to do a crash training block, but don't have any buddies that can do it with you and you don't want to organize your own, look for a bicycle tour. In addition to boosting your fitness, you can see new places and meet like-minded riders.

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When shopping for a tour to use as training, be sure to select something that fits your needs. If you are a new rider or don't ride much volume right now, select a tour with moderate amounts of climbing and mileage. If you are an experienced rider that has not done a tour before, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of riders that register for some of the more challenging tours.

After a couple of days on a tour your biggest concerns become getting ready to ride, riding to the next aid station or scenic overlook, and recovering from the ride so you can repeat it all tomorrow. A side benefit of a week-long riding trip is work stress reduction and clearing cobwebs from your mind. In addition to gaining a new level of fitness, you might find that you dream-up new business or life goals while the miles flow beneath your frame.

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Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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