Okay, a lot of cycling success has to do with sheer guts, but there’s a lot to be said for a highly structured training program¾as opposed to just pounding out a huge volume of unfocused miles or, as the saying goes, “Racing yourself into form.” For many athletes, weakness in the hills, especially in the spring as strength and power are still developing, can be a persistent issue. Here’s how to get an early-season monkey off your back and break through to a new level on the bike.
1. Increase your base training mileage by 10-20 percent over previous years to build strength over the latter portion of your ride. Build the last half or third of your long rides to 10 beats below lactate threshold.
2. Early in the year, incorporate some overgeared cycling with a cadence around 70 rpm on the flats, 50-60 on the hills, to build strength.
3. If you’re still spending time indoors on the trainer, place an extra block under your front wheel to simulate hill-climbing body angles and muscle stresses.
4. Regularly include 4-6 x 10- to 15-second accelerations in your early-season rides. Begin by accelerating 3 mph above your average cycling pace, and over the course of the set, build to your max speed in a hard gear. This increases power and doesn’t cost much from a recovery standpoint.