Do you have a ride you do frequently that measures your fitness level; a benchmark ride that tests your progress? I have two – laps around Stanley Park and repeat climbs up the Spanish Banks hill to UBC. I do these rides every week.
I have been doing them, in one form or another, for almost 30 years. I time them. Time specific sections. Climb time. Descent time. Point-to-point sprints. I love these workouts. They take 60-90 minutes depending on the number of climbs and laps. I measure how many climbs I can complete on the Spanish Banks climb in and hour. Six climbs. And similarly, I count the number of laps around Stanley Park that I can complete in an hour. Three laps. An hour is all it takes. I think of these rides as a TT.
Some days are faster than others depending how rested I feel and the bike I am riding. I do the rides on all three bikes – the Kuwahara, the Roberts and the Garneau. It is amazing the difference bike weight and gearing can make. Training on the heavier bikes is like running with ankle weights. When I take a turn on the full carbon Garneau, it seems to roll faster with less effort.
Now that I use Strava – I am a late adopter – I can compare results with previous rides and with others, even telling me my Personal Bests for sections of each of the rides so I know when and where I can improve.
Do you have a benchmark ride? Do you use Strava? If not, I would suggest you find a 25 km route with little traffic, few stop signs or lights and a smooth surface and test yourself on a regular basis. Make certain the route has a combination of climbs, descents and flats so that you can work on technique and form for each type of terrain.
I am not a racer. Never was. But I enjoy training and testing myself with longer, steeper climbs and longer distances. When I benchmark some rides, my recreational rides become more enjoyable. I cycle more easily, at a faster pace and for longer distances without tiring easily.
Do you have a benchmark ride?