Winter in Georgia, compared to most other more northern U.S. locations can seem to be a mild affair. The end of December’s weather truly raised my awareness of my cycling cold threshold, below 55 degrees forget it. I may be a bit of a wimp, but going fifteen to twenty plus miles an hour on a bike in the winter was a little too uncomfortable for me. Toss in Atlanta‘s swiftly changing weather and riding in January and February might be a moot point, unless we get a lucky weekend of high temperatures. Paint me a wimp, but I like to enjoy my rides and cold temps currently do not work in that regard.
According to the WeatherChannel.com the coolest month in Atlanta is January. With this fact and the below weather chart I have to figure out a new plan of action for January and maybe even February. Regardless of temperature I have to find a way to get on the bike again in March, so I will be prepared for my triathlon. So I have devised a plan with the assistance of my favorite spin instructor.
First off, he is an avid cyclist and treats his spin classes like we are actually riding a real bike on roads. Compared to other instructors there is a major difference. He confided in me that when he was in colorado he had to train for a multi-day, hundred mile per day ride event and that it was too cold to train outdoors. He told me he spent three to four hours twice a week seriously working on a spin bike. Then a month before he hit the open road whenever possible. I figured this might work for me, at least til temperatures go up.
Another reason this might work is that my biggest hurtle right now is overall endurance. While I can now pedal 20 miles or so up and down hills, a great deal more than I could have at the beginning of last year, I still have poor endurance in my legs. I know from experience they get tired and exhausted fast. This weekend I strapped on my heart rate monitor and took the spin bike for a ride. The first thing I noticed was that I could go for a couple of hours as long as I found something to watch. Also, playing with resistance but keeping my speed the same, I could push my heart rate up and down. After a little while I realized that at 135-140 bpm heart rate, about an hour, my legs began to get heavy and I was hitting the beginning of the limit on my legs endurance. I could have pushed on for another hour, maybe, but my legs were getting tired.
After that workout I decided it was time for a plan and I began to research heart rate spin training. The goal was to find ways to make this indoor time as advantageous as possible, so I could gain some advantage when returning to the roads when things warmed up again. I knew I would have to look at heart rate zones as it was the only measurable indicator I had. So I found some ways to calculate heart rate zones, most of them relying on the age minus 220, but I found some decent ways to determine this metric and I set up some heart rate zones. I then searched and found some training articles, one that had tons of references to papers and the like and I developed my plan.
One reason I figure this might work is that I was barely in my zone 2 and after an hour my legs were exhausted. Most information I found recommends doing at least one long session in zone 2 for three hours and one short session in zone three for two hours with an interval day mixed in if possible. So if I get anything out of this shift in training it should be extended endurance in my legs and tons of time for watching Netflix. While this will take some time to implement, I am going to really shoot for the max times prescribed. I might have to drop to the next zone down, but I will push the duration. Should be interesting to see how this works out. Til next time.