This is a 12-week plan for the intermediate cyclist looking to move from just barely hanging on to the local bike shop ride to crushing the souls of their "competition". In a friendly way of course! Whether you're strugling to stay on with the B-group or trying to make the jump to the A-group, this plan is for you.
We'll break down your group ride into its parts and focus each week on the skills and abilities you need to not only keep up, but to push the pace.
You should be comfortable riding in a group and by yourself. You should be riding at least 3-4 times per week and capable of riding for 2 hours at a time.
Most weeks will have 3-4 rides (including of course your target group ride) with an optional 5th recovery ride on the weekend. Most weekdays will be 1-1.5 hours in length with (at most) 2 hours on the weekends. Of course you can always add more if you have the time.
The plan starts on a Monday and has the group ride on Sunday, but of course you can move days around as you see fit.
Warm up for at least 15 minutes. Then, do the following:
For 4 minutes, ride at a pace that causes you to breathe a little heavy, but not so heavy you can't speak. It should feel like a 4 or 5 on a 10-scale (called relative perceived exertion or RPE). If you're using heart rate, this should be zone 3.
Rest for 4 minutes by pedaling very easy. Don't stop or coast. You should always be pedaling when you're training and pedaling as little as possible when you are on the group ride!
Repeat this 4 on, 1 off, 2 more times for a total of 3 intervals. In the future, this workout will be written like this:
Complete 3 x 4 minutes at RPE 5, Heart Rate Zone 3. Recover 4 minutes.
Cool down with at least 10 minutes of easy spinning and, if you like, some light stretching off the bike.
In a large clean parking lot do the following drills:
1. Circles. Start slowly with a wide circle. Then gradually increase speed and tighten the radius of the circle until you feel the back wheel begin to lose traction. Do these in the drops only focusing on looking where you're turning, not your front wheel. Do left for 3 minutes, then right for 3 minutes.
2. Figure 8's. Same as above but in a figure 8 motion. Start slowly and in large figure 8's. Gradually increase speed and tighten the radius. Focus on an object that is past the apex of your turn. Your hands and body will naturally guide you there.
After warm-up do 4 x 90 seconds ifast pedaling. Try to get your cadence over 100. (3-minute recoveries). Finish with a very easy cool down and stretch.
Today we'll do a fitness test. The goal today is to ride a few pre-determined sections of your regular course and time yourself as well as record your speed. Its important to record the conditions also (such is "very hot" or "big headwind" etc).
For this test you will need 2 lengths of road. The first length should be a hill that takes at least 2 minutes to ride at a normal pace. It doesn't have to be steep, but it should be relatively consistent, without stop signs, and safe to turn around on to go back to the bottom.
The second should be a 6-mile long section of road. It should be relatively flat and without any stop signs if possible. You should also make sure it is safe to turn around quickly.
The test is simple. For the hill test start at the bottom and ride as hard as you can in 1 minute. That's it! Before you start, make sure you push your interval/lap button. At 1 minute, push it again. If you feel this wasn't your best attempt, you can try up to 2 more times. If its easier, note a significant landmark (like a mailbox or phone pole) to mark your distance.
Then pedal easily to your second section of road (the 6-mile section). For this one, you'll simply ride as hard as you can for 10 minutes, then turn around and ride back. If you are using heart rate, this will be in zone 5a. Again, you'll start your lap timer at the start and hit it again at the finish. You'll record your average speed and if you like, your heart rate.
If you have extra time to ride, put in some more miles at a fairly easy pace.
We're finishing up our rest/test week with an optional easy day. Today just go out on a relatively easy course and just get some time in. Ride as much as you like but focus on keeping it easy and coming home before you get tired. There's plenty of hard stuff to come!
Warm up for 15 minutes. Easy at first and then increasingly harder until you work up a good sweat and feel ready to go. Then, do the following:
4 to 6 times, ride for 6 minutes at a pace hard enough to make you start breathing heavy but not so hard that you can't speak or that your legs burn. If you're using heart rate, this would be Zone 3. Recover for 3 minutes between each interval.
Do at least 4. If after the 4th you feel great, then do two more. If after the 6th you still feel great, you didn't go hard enough! Next time, you'll know to go a bit harder.
Cool down for at least 15 minutes.
Warm up well for 15 minutes. Start easy and then ride increasingly harder until you break a sweat and feel ready. Then, do the following:
Start your interval timer. For the first 2 minutes, ride at a pace that is just hard enough to make you breath heavy but not so hard you can't speak. If using HR, you should just break into zone 3. When your timer says 2 minutes, get out of the saddle and attack for 15 seconds.
Once the attack is over, settle back in to your original tempo pace until the timer says 4 minutes. Repeat this pattern starting a new interval on each EVEN minute until the timer says 10:15 (the last 15 seconds is an attack).
Recover between 10-minute intervals for 5 minutes. Repeat 2 more times then cool down for at least 15 minutes.