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Roadies: Still Time to Hit Your Peak Form this Season
By Bart Summers
If you're reading this around August or September time and you're up here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's likely that you fall into one of two camps.
Either you've had enough of bike racing for the year and you're about to pack it in until you begin doing long winter miles later in the year, or you're about to make a last ditch attempt to find some form and starting placing--or even winning--in races before the season closes out!
If this second camp is where you are right now then listen up because if you want to win a road race this season, or you desperately need some ranking points to retain or move up a category, then you've still got more than enough time to do it!
Here is why: By the time you reach this point in the season you've probably spent the best part of seven or eight months or 200-250 days training and racing.
That's a lot! But here's the good news: If you've managed to remain mentally fresh over that period of time, taken regular R & R weeks, and looked after yourself (even taken a week or two off the bike completely), then you may well be in a position to exploit all that good training to the full! And make what the Italians call a "Salto di qualita" or quality jump in form.
What all that training has given you is the most important bike racing asset of all--time in the saddle. And that's exactly what builds economy, a powerful aerobic system and a huge level of endurance.
Now that you have built that economy and endurance, you're in precisely the shape you need to be in order to start the kind of training that will have you winning races again before the season closes out.
And by "that kind of training" I'm talking about intervals!
What it boils down to is this: What you need to win bike races and what we all want more of is sustainable power on the bike. And that comes from having a huge aerobic base optimized by high quality interval training. Having built the base, now all you have to do is get the intervals right and you'll be flying in no time at all!
So what kind of intervals should you do to make certain you increase your sustainable power on the bike? Try these two and you'll feel the increase in power almost immediately. I recommend you do these on the indoor trainer so you can concentrate fully on maintaining full effort throughout the intervals.
1) V02 Max Intervals. Ride for three minutes at a pace higher than you can maintain in a 10-mile TT with full recovery between intervals. Repeat twice more or until you can no longer finish the three minutes in the same gear. Ignore heart rate during these intervals and concentrate instead on pedaling smoothly and sustaining your power output.
2) One minute Anaerobic Capacity Intervals. Ride one minute absolutely flat out as hard as you can with one minute rests between intervals. Repeat as many times as you can without fading. Stop and warm down as soon as you can no longer maintain the same power or have to change down a gear.
Those are just two sessions that will make a massive difference to your power output on the bike. Make sure you allow at least 48 hours recovery between each interval session.
Good luck with the rest of your season and here's to you winning a race over the next few weeks!
Bart Summers is an active amateur racer and coach and author of 50 Top Bike Racing Tips.
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