Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beating the Solar System...Daylight Training Time

Where’s my other wool sock?  I think your shoe covers are in the garage.  Where’s the charger for my light?  Our cycling world is upside down.  With the time change, unless you can find your blinky light in the blue storage bin, the kibosh has been put on our evening rides.  You can’t slog your carcass out of bed.   The time it takes to put on your shoe covers and layers makes you reconsider if it’s even worth spending all the time to get dressed for a one hour morning ride before work.  According to, sunrise and sunset in Cincinnati is at 7:16am and 5:28pm respectively.  According to you, this sucks donkey dongs. 

Here’s how I’ve been beating the system…the solar system. 

In these dark days, I have 5 workouts that I mix up to make the most of cold weather weekday riding.  The longest is about an hour, the shortest is over in less than 30 minutes.  Add a warm up and cool down for a sub 2 hour well rounded ride.  Do ‘em fast and hard and you can burn up to 800 calories an hour.  Better yet, any of these workouts can be pulled off before or after work and probably without having to ride more than 5-6 miles away.  You might find yourself wondering why you used to do 3 hour rides after work, at least until the first 60 degree day in March.

Find a 6-8 minute hill or loop of singletrack, something you can churn out an 85% steady effort in.  I prefer the hill over flat road, because most flat roads are teeming with rush hour traffic at 7:30am or 6pm on a weeknight.  Get to the park or a posh hillside neighborhood.  The only traffic you’ll find there is residential.  If it’s a park, the only traffic will be the divorcees hooking up for a secret rendezvous of open mouth kisses.  It’s late in the season; you don’t need to do 10 hills.  5-6 times up will do.  Coast or soft pedal your way down for a 4 minute rest.  6 times up a 7 minute hill is 42 minutes of nut bustin’ fun.  Your cross race is 45 minutes.  Ah ha!  Bikefucious say, “You’re welcome.”

Find a 3-4 minute steep hill.  In Cincinnati there’s no shortage of these, some neighborhoods like Mt. Adams and Mt. Lookout offer a number of routes you can mix up and never leave the same square mile area.  A side payoff, especially in the Queen City, is the incredible vistas of the city and the river at night.  Sprint as hard as you can till you practically die, settle in and suffer it out at the hardest effort you can carry to the top.  Do 8-10 times.  Catch your breath before heading back down the hill.  Again, ten times up a 3 and a half minute hill is 35 minutes.  Imagine being able to attack and stick it 10 times in your next cross race.

These are the shortest and most horrible intervals.  Some call ‘em “on and offs.”  On one of the 4 minute hills from your Vicious Vistas route, you do three hill repeats.  Yep.  Just 3 times up.  No problem, right?  Nuh, uh.  These will make you tap out like getting gut punched repeatedly by a UFC champion.  Good thing you’ll be done in like 20 minutes.  I do them on the switchbacked hill to the Eden Park overlook.  It’s nice to have a pay off vista when you double over at the top.  On each time up you’ll go all out donkey wheezing snot driveling hard for 30 seconds, recover for 30 seconds and then repeat 4 times up the hill.  If your hill is short, double back down when you recover.  You’ll want to die.  You may puke.  Rest 5 minutes between each.  When you’re done, go for a little half hour cool down noodle.  Think of the cyclocross course.  There are not many sections that ever last for 30 seconds of all out effort.  You just did that a dozen times.  You’ll find you can answer and initiate violent repeated attacks like you’re an insanely evil serial killer.

Yoga in Ault Park courtesy Revolution Fitness
This year I replaced my old core routine of crunches, pushups, and stair running with yoga.  It’s a perfect stretching and fairly easy core and balance workout that you can pull off on Thursday or Friday afterwork.  Most classes cost $10, provide everything you’ll need and last an hour.  It’s like getting a massage and a core workout all in one.  Hard enough to get something out of it, easy enough that you wont be hurting on Sunday.  Hot room yoga is like stretching in a warm shower after a chilly ride.  Use your massage stick when you get done.  Plus you’ll find Namaste peace and confidence in those stressful cross racing situations where you have to choose between two scary ways through a frozen creek, around 3 slippery off camber corners and up a steep hill in the course of 20 seconds with 5 guys on your wheel.

Take the cross bike out on a local patch of neighborhood trails.  I’ve lived in Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin, Chicago, Northern Kentucky and now Cincinnati.  Every neighborhood has a patch work of trails and usually a park nearby.  Many times you can link a few sections together with short jaunts on the road.  Every creek or river has trails on both sides.  Every city park has a little trail somewhere.  I'll ride my neighborhood and shoulder my bike up Cincinnati's public steps.  You’ll keep your CX skills honed and not have to put your bike on the car for a dark, lonely ride in the woods being afraid of the boogey man which usually turns out to be a deer.


JMott said...

Or you can work in a high school and ride at 3:30 every day. Woot!

Joe Biker said...

woot indeed.

StevenG said...

Or work at Government and still have time for 90 minutes. But still fun to get the lights and ride the 8 mile golf course paths 1/2 mile from my garage at night.