In Part I, we introduced you to the concept of "riding steady." In Part II, we discuss the application of this to your triathlon training and racing.
How to Train Steady
Steady riding is a style of riding, just as drilling it up every hill and coasting down is a style. It’s a skill you learn, and once you got it, you got it. You can choose to ride like this, or not, just as you can choose to ride to ear-shattering rock or mellow reggae, depending on your mood.
More: Time Trial Debate: Steady Power or Steady Speed?
Some Things to Keep in Mind:
- Confidence: Yes, you need to spend some time developing the skill of how to ride steady. But trusting the process is part of the equation, and a lot of that comes from riding steady around people who are not, thereby gaining the confidence that this style of riding absolutely works. Once you have that confidence, then everything that everyone else does around you—the wrong thing—just adds to the confidence you have in your own riding style.
- Maximize the Work: For training purposes, mo' work done per minute of training time is mo' betta'! About 95 percent of riding is very much not-steady—once you have the skill, and know how to use it, you can turn it on or off as needed. But when you are training, you often want to cram as much intensity, cadence ranges and other tools into every minute of your ride. Your effort might be all over the place, always hard, all the time. For example, you can ride steady and average 240 W, 260 W Pnorm for a training ride or you can surge, drill yourself, keep the watts up on downhills and generally have FUN on the bike (very important) and average 240 W but with a Pnorm of 280 W. You have, of course, made yourself more tired, but that's a good thing for training.
- Approaching Race Day: As you get closer to your race, you need to put on the "steady hat" a bit more in training. Relearn or practice the skill, reaffirm your confidence in the technique, and adapt your body to long, sustained, constant efforts. The primary vehicle for this is your long rides—Endurance Nation prescribes steady-specific workouts in the last 8 to 12 weeks of our athletes' training plans.
More: 5 Reasons to Train with a Power Meter
So, how do you learn to ride steady?
In general, ensure you have enough gears on your bike for the terrain you train and race on. Generally speaking, much of the "surging" in a given ride is often the result of not having enough gears. This drops you into the low cadences you’re not used to/don’t like, so you spike the watts to push against it.
More: Dave Scott's Bike Trainer Workout: Learning to Ride Efficiently