Friday, 11 March 2011

Guest Post from Chris Tasker of Cycle Coaching

I'm going to be inviting some people to do guest posts from time to time.

Here's the first one from guest blogger Chris Tasker of I asked him to put put something together for beginner and intermediate cyclists looking to make the jump to the next level of performance. Here's what he wrote: -


In my experience most club cyclists are very good at sitting in a group (usually of friends) and covering between 40 and 100 miles each weekend ride. These rides often include a coffee stop and maybe a few attacks/breakaways on the climbs or sprints to certain road signs. Some clubs also have a mid week chain gang session for riders to stretch their legs a bit but generally much of their training is done at a similar intensity.

The canny club cyclists however are locking themselves away through the week and hitting the turbo trainer to put in some intervals to improve their power and threshold levels. Are you?

There is a phrase which goes something like this “If you keep doing the same thing in training why would you expect to achieve anything different in racing?”

In my opinion the first thing any cyclist (or any athlete in fact) should consider are their aims or goals and from that set themselves some objectives. For example, if a cyclist has a good aerobic base but wants to improve their average time in the ever popular 100 mile sportif they need to build on their ability to ride at a higher intensity for a longer duration. Whereas a team mate who wants to improve their 10 mile time-trial personal best (PB) wants to be able to ride at a much higher intensity (Wattage or heart rate) but for a far shorter duration.

The body is a remarkable thing and can adapt rapidly to stress, fitness is essentially the body reacting to exercise (stress). To continue improving we must consider the stresses we are placing on our body and vary those stresses to keep building that fitness rather than plateauing.

Given that our time limited cyclist is looking to improve their average speed over a longer distance I would have them spend time riding shorter durations at higher average speeds to train their muscles and heart to cope with delivering more power to the pedals.

By using a heart rate monitor to more accurately gauge the effort being placed on the body we can prescribe a number of training zones in which we can work to achieve different adaptations depending on the desired outcome (TT or sportif for example) – heart rate zones is not the subject of this article but may be covered in a future article.

There are large gains to be made in a relatively short period of time by incorporating interval training into our training. For example most people can find a one hour period during the week to train and an example session may look something like this:

10 minute warm up

Increase heart rate or perceived effort level to 75 – 80% of their maximum heart rate and hold it for 30 minutes. By measuring the average speed recorded or distance covered it is possible to measure improvement over a period of time. The duration may change but by recording the average speed across the session (be it 1x30, 2x15 or 3x10 for example) the athlete can track their fitness at a particular heart rate. If the athlete is travelling further/ higher average speed they must be getting fitter.

10 minute warm down.

In summary our mythical rider needs to add more riding at higher intensities to improve their average speed over their chosen distance (goal setting). Our athlete is time short but would be encouraged to identify 2x1hr periods through the week (early morning or after the children are in bed maybe?) to incorporate some turbo training.

Time spent stressing the body in training will bring about considerable improvements and allow our cyclist to ride faster for longer and achieve their individual goals – it’s then time to reassess their goals and plan ways in which to achieve them.

Chris Tasker - Cycle Coaching)

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