I don’t do recreational … 🤔


I don’t do recreational.

I no longer do leisurely, recreational rides with friends, and family. Not ever. I used to. However, these days, every ride is a training ride. I like cycling fast. And, I like to climb. Not everyone does. I ride to get stronger, and faster. I’m not riding to relax.

Today, while taping updated heart rate training zones to the stem of my road bike, I realized I no longer do recreational rides. How could I with those zones staring me in the face every pedal stroke. The VDO M6 cycling computer tracks the time spent in each of 4 user-defined training zones. Coaches use a different number of zones ranging from 4-7. I tailor the M6’s zones based on the 6 zones reported by the WattBike power calculator.

Now that I have switched to a more polarized regimen, I focus on zones 1, 3, and 4. Zone 2 is the “garbage” zone where I do not want to spend much time. These workouts are not hard enough to have any training effect, and yet stress the body enough to require additional recovery time. Whereas Zone 1 workouts are easier, also have little training effect, but stress the system less, and aid recovery, particularly for the older athlete. For the next 2 months, I plan to spend 80-85% of my time in Zone 1, and 15-20% in Zones 3 & 4,  where the greatest training effect takes place.


One end of the scale to the other, with no time spent in between,

This is how endurance athletes train.

What does this training look like? Well,  I’ll complete 1-2 hard rides per week at my lactate threshold level, or higher. Or, in practical terms, hill repeats. I find a 3+ km hill with a 5% (or steeper) gradient, and race up it 4-6 times. 7-8 minutes up. 2-3 minutes down. Times 4.

Hill repeats are not fun. If done correctly, they hurt. But there is no better way to improve power, and stamina on the bike. This is the reason I need training zones taped to my stem. I need to see that I’m pedalling easily enough to stay in Zone 1 for extended periods. And, I need to see that I am working hard enough on the hills to get into, and stay, in Zones 3, and 4.

Like any lactate threshold workout the key to Climbing Repeats is accumulating time at intensity. If you have 3×8 minute Climbing Repeats you’re accumulating 24 minutes at CR intensity. You could also achieve those 24 minutes by doing 4x6minute intervals or 2x12minute intervals. Generally, less experienced and less fit athletes should start with more, shorter intervals (4x6minutes) so that each interval can be completed at higher quality. As you get stronger – and as the training plans progress – the individual intervals typically get longer even if the total time at intensity stays the same. Recovery between intervals is typically half the time of the interval, or 3 minutes between 6-minute efforts, and 6 minutes between 12-minute efforts.

“Why can’t you make your Zone 1 rides recreational rides with friends and family?”, you ask.

Well, I suppose I could. The problem is I use them to build a solid base, gradually increasing ride times up to 3-4 hours, working on maintaining a high cadence, keeping properly fuelled, and hydrated. This is not recreational for most.

So, I don’t do recreational.

I ride solo mostly, particularly for those Zone 1 workouts. Other cyclists I know, don’t like the easier pace. They think there is no training effect, but are they doing regular hill repeats as well … 🤔 No. They don’t like the hills either.

So, what do you think?

Are they improving their conditioning? Are they making the most effective use of their rides?

Is this how you train … 🤔

12 thoughts on “I don’t do recreational … 🤔

  1. Whilst I admire your strict training regime I would find it to obsessive.
    I ride to keep fit and healthy but realize I don’t have your determination and won’t be pulling up any trees any more,and I although I too ride mostly solo as well I do like the occasional leisurely ride and comradery ride with friends,but not racing.
    After your cadence post I do keep a close eye on my garmin and am trying to increase it.
    Only my opinion of course,and should add if I was as fit as you who’s to say I wouldn’t be doing the same.
    The main thing is to enjoy your cycling and do whatever works for you.

    • Hi Paul. Yes, it’s obsessive. I have always enjoyed training but I admit this is a little over the top, particularly for my age. When I finish this reasons races, I may dial it back a bit 😂

  2. I guess. I’m glad my partner just goes at his own pace whenever he felt going harder or not. It makes it easier later….when one is less able to perform at optimum level because of irreversible aging. Cycling for me to stay on the bike needs to be something I like doing over and over daily. If it becomes a numbers games it’s demotivating because there are times in life, I just won’t be “as good”.

    My partner will be 74. Unfortunately he has problem with his knee which is result of an injury over 40 years ago. So he just trudges along by bike daily. He just tracks his mileage and hasn’t ever gotten into cadence measuring nor heart rate monitoring. And this someone who has solo toured with loaded panniers across Canada and New Zealand. So just saying he also has been an endurance cyclist..but quite different than yourself.

    Who knows maybe you 2 have passed one another.

  3. Don’t get me wrong I too am obsessive by nature,but at age (68) I’ve learnt not to obsess on goals I can’t win..so I now only set myself smaller goals which I think are achievable,if I set goals I can never reach it only leads to disappointment and unnecessary anxiety,which can slowly drain away the enjoyment of cycling.
    An ex riding partner of mine who was on a par with me has taken his riding so much to another level that every ride together became a race for stava koms,and post ride put downs,it wasn’t for me,so ended our friendship.
    To give him his due he’s by a long way one of the fittest 58yr olds I know,regularly overtaking roadies on his 29er hard tail mountain bike.
    My garmin shows training zones so I will try your training zone plan,it’ actually looks easier than staying in zone 4 for 85% of my rides as I presently do.

    • Paul, I think you are right. It’s important to set realistic goals, and to challenge ourselves. I don’t see failures as a problem. They make me think smarter, and work harder. I’ve learned, in my 70 years, that I am only limited by what I think. As long as I remain positive, and be realistic, I can continue to improve. I may not be as fast as I once was, my endurance and cycling skills have improved considerably.

      • Some folks have higher motivation and work ethics than others.
        I’m probably around mid table,whilst your in the top 10%.👍
        I do unfortunately beat myself up a bit if I don’t reach my goals,that’s probably in the genes and hard to change,on the plus side the satisfaction from reaching a goal is immense and Im buzzing for a weekf….so small goals big satisfaction is my motto 😊
        It can be the small things in life that matter most.,maybe I should become a Buddhist 😉

  4. I often find myself getting way too obsessed on making every ride a training ride or every moment of my day revolve around getting faster, then I remember I don’t get paid to ride. I think for the weekend warrior there is a thing as being too strict in your cycling.

    A recreational ride every now and then does no harm and reminds us that life on two wheels is beautiful. Call it training for the soul.

  5. Being 75 and generally knackered, this is not how I train. In fact I don’t train at all, I just survive another day out on the bike and am grateful for it.

  6. Enjoy it while you can. I know plenty of cyclists who have considered every ride including a daily commute to be training for their whole lives. My 79 year old stepfather is currently very grumpy because heart problems mean that he cannot race this year.

    But I have found that a combination of health struggles and the impositions of life mean that training is often one stress too far. Going out and thrashing about, getting breathless and maybe loosing a bit of weight is however liberating. I just refuse to consider it training, although maybe I will tune up for a special ride.

  7. Pingback: I have made a few changes … | PedalWORKS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s