Travel Cycling: Taking
Workout on the Road
Russ - The Sports Factory
many of my athletes, staying on top of their training
while traveling is one of the biggest challenges they
encounter. While running and even swimming can be
performed relatively easily on the road, cycling presents
the greatest challenge. Perhaps you have experienced a
similar situation; you have not been on your bike since
last Sunday's ride and feel you are losing your fitness in
the face of your upcoming race. You go down to the hotel
gym and find one somewhat dilapidated Lifecycle. How is it
possible to get a good workout in on one of these? Will
the fitness remotely transfer to real road cycling?
answer is that you can get a good workout that will
transfer to road cycling. While training on a stationary
bike could never fully substitute time on the road, there
are many workouts you can perform to work on a piece of
your cycling. Cycling can be broken down into two basic
components; leg speed and force production, both of which
can be trained on a stationary bike if no other option
exists. Some workouts are actually better performed in a
controlled environment where power, cadence, and
resistance can all be monitored and adjusted.
first step is planning. If you know you will be traveling,
you want to select the workouts that are going to be
easiest to perform on the stationary bike. I consider this
when building my athletes' plans by putting their long,
more general road workouts on the weekends and putting the
shorter, more specific workouts during the week. The next
step is choosing a hotel that has an exercise room and
stationary cycle. Some hotels are advertising this as a
feature to attract customers. If at all possible, frequent
the hotels that have raised the standard for their fitness
rooms. Many hotels have reciprocal arrangements with local
gyms. In this case, a spin cycle would be an option. Don't
assume that just because the hotel has a gym, a stationary
bike will be there, or more specifically, one that is in
good repair. I have been amazed that some of the nicer
hotels often have equipment that is in disrepair. Don't be
afraid to explain when making reservations that you are
training for a race and that you require an exercise
bicycle. You may want to explain that "the last time
I was there it was broken; would you mind checking to make
sure it is working properly and get back to me." This
may seem like some length to go to, but it is very
frustrating to prepare for a workout only to have it nixed
due to factors beyond your control.
Training on the Bike
training enhances your cycling and athletes often spend a
portion of their season lifting weights to increase force
production. Strength training performed on the bike and is
even more specific. You can perform the following strength
workouts on a stationary bike.
up for 10-15 minutes, then crank the resistance down until
it is very heavy as if you were climbing a steep hill.
Drive the pedals down for 20-30 pedal strokes
concentrating on producing force on the down stroke. Do
not increase cadence; keep cadence very slow. Recover for
five minutes and repeat. You can perform 4-8 force reps
strength endurance. Envision climbing a long, steep hill.
Keep your cadence in the 50-60 rpm range with a heavy
resistance. Smoothly pedal the length of the interval
using good climbing form. You can perform leg tension
intervals of 5-20 minutes with 5-10 minutes recovery
aerobic strength. Picture a very long, moderate climb.
Keep your cadence in the 65-75 rpm range and your heart
rate towards the top of your aerobic zone. Smoothly pedal
for 20-60 minutes using these parameters. This workout is
a lot harder than it may seem at first and is highly
Training on the Bike
training is strength + speed. You should have a good
strength basis before moving on to these workouts. Form is
important. Make sure you are producing smooth power and
not ?bobbing? in the saddle.
are the first phase of power training. Using a high
cadence and resistance, pedal as hard as you can for 10
seconds. At the end of the interval, your legs should be
very fatigued and ready to quit on you. Recover for 10
minutes and repeat 4-8 times.
are more sustained and build aerobic capacity. Using a
high cadence (over 100 rpm) and high resistance, pedal as
hard as you can for 1-4 minutes. Recover for an equal
length and repeat 3-6 times.
have limited recovery and train your body to buffer lactic
acid. Use a high cadence and resistance, pedal for 30
seconds to 1 minute. Recovery is the same length as the
interval. Repeat 8-20 times.
Training on the Bike
training is simply training your muscles to fire quickly
and to pedal efficiently at higher pedal speeds. Low
resistance is used unlike power training. Form should be
the focus. Speed training is good for lighter days on
which you do not want to overstress the body.
Fast Legs: Start
off at 90 rpm and increase your cadence by 5 rpm every 30
seconds until you reach your maximum sustainable cadence.
Your max cadence is the point at which you begin to lose
form and bob in the saddle. Hold for 30 seconds, then
recover for several minutes; repeat 4-6 times.
this at 5 rpm below your maximum sustainable cadence and
hold your cadence for 10-60 minutes. You may need to start
off with a shorter duration and increase each workout.
up quickly to your maximum sustainable cadence and then
let it drop 20 rpm. Repeat this 8-12 times.
out on a stationary bike is not the best way to train in a
perfect world but you can break down portions of your
cycling and work on them effectively. Most of these
workouts should be performed in the base and general
preparation phases of training. As you get closer to your
goal race(s), try to spend more time on the road and as
little time as possible training indoors.
Russ has coached and trained elite athletes
from around the country and internationally for over ten
years. He currently holds expert licenses from
Cycling (Elite), and is a licensed
Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The
Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full
time. He is a free lance author and his articles are
regularly featured in a variety of magazines such as
Inside Triathlon, and Triathlete. Visit www.thesportfactory.com
for more information or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org