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 … 🤔