2020 in Review: What did you discover about your cycling self?

What a great question. So cool to see people’s thoughts here. Helpful really. Here’s what I picked up

  • my “scaffolding” matters. My early morning boot camp classes, early morning personal trainer sessions, weekly group rides (with the other “slow kids”, long rides on weekends…all worked together to keep me engaged and moving forward. When that went away, I tried to shift all that time to the bike…and it was a real struggle
  • oddly, to get my volume in on the bike, I needed to find substitute ways to do the “gym” stuff. Took me a while but once I sorted a plan, things clicked again
  • I have always liked group rides but only for about 15-20% of my volume. I rode 100% solo this year. That was fine but I missed my fellow bike nerds
  • lacking “completion goal” events I had to come up with my own. I had several multi day road & gravel light touring (hotels not tents). All solo. It was fun to figure out all the pack, load, route stuff alone…and no one suffered for my screwups but me :wink:
  • I’ve gotten a better understanding of how much intensity load I can carry during a week before I start thinking of finding a dumpster to light on fire and put the bike in it. I tolerate a bit more than I am typically willing to. That was nice to learn
  • when I don’t do all the core stuff (because I’m not doing the “gym stuff” and no one is barking at me to do it) my hands hurt a bit when I’m on the bike more than a couple hours (shocking discovery I know)
  • I ride almost as much for my mental well being as for my physical well-being; even if I don’t like that fact, wish it weren’t true, and am generally loathe to cop to it
  • realizing that I’ll be waxed after spending ten hours on zoom meant I had to acknowledge that as fact and plan accordingly…even though I dislike that it’s true :wink:
  • I’m glad to have been forced to do as much solo as I did but I do miss the events & my people. I work a little harder with them around
  • TR kinda became the anchor around which I’d build my plan each week; two moderate intensity planned workouts & the rest outside
  • my year was not a resounding success by comparison. But I didn’t abandon the effort and land on the couch with a crate of ho-hos either. I did ok, some things I was proud of, some things I figured out, some things I’d do differently…if I only knew what I know now when this started…
  • I’m also keenly aware my goals are more modest than most folks here. I’m not competitive or hoping to be…cycling is the primary structural support in the pieces of scaffolding that makes my little world hum along with only slightly more grace than the truck in The Beverly Hillbillies :blush:

Why do you think that’s a bad thing? During COVID, I got lots of people to try cycling, trail running, and hiking because it’s so incredibly good for the soul. I think that’s WAY more important than fitness numbers, especially during the shit show that was 2020.

Great list, btw. Here’s to growth in 2021!


That I enjoy riding my bike for hours in zone 2 in the sun! :laughing: But…it doesn’t do much to maintain my FTP at the levels it was at in March after SPB. That said my endurance is better - so lots of zone 2 helps with that - and now I am back doing o/u, VO2 and threshold work hoping for a race season in 2021 it seems more manageable (and my FTP is on the rise again), so maybe those 15-20 hour weeks in the sun have had a long term effect on my muscle mitochondria if not my FTP. :thinking:


I discovered that I was very definitely not a “cyclist.” Once lockdown happened I decided I’d dedicate myself to a purely cycling plan. It was fine and I got all the way through base, build and specialty. But boy did I miss running and swimming. I’m back on the multisport train now and loving it (even if the pools aren’t as accessible as they used to be!)


I’ll add to my list with non-measurables:

I discovered to listen to my body and follow its orders! With no “official” races or events, I learned not to feel guilty etc. at skipping a workout or missing a ride. Sometimes missing a brush stoke makes for a better bigger picture.

As above, with all the regular goals gone, I had to discover new whys of cycling, or more to the point, re-discover old whys. The past few years have definitely seen me use cycling as a vehicle for performance, and to use events & races to ratify my performance (and thereby validate my decisions and choices). Now it’s more about the process, enjoyment, and discovery.

That said, I hope to god 2021 isn’t another year of “discovery & learning”. I’m maxed out, thanks!


I finally took to heart the advice that training for bike performance is not the place to go into caloric deficit for weight loss. I was training hard at the start of the year and dropping weight fast and going into significant caloric deficits. I got sick, not once but twice. Then it became obvious that race season 2020 was not going to happen so I pretty much gave up all together. Lost the fitness (well the 2x illness did that) and the progress in the weight loss battle.

I then proceeded to ride outside and did so without much of a training focus (typically when riding outdoors I will set down a general power levels I want to pursue) – just get outdoors and ride. So there was no racing, no shop rides, and the biggest group ride I was in was with two other guys.

After a summer of listening to the podcast I am training again (started in September) and am fully fueling my workouts. The result is I’m completing blocks and plans. I’ve also noticed reduced RPE on workouts and I just set a PR on a ramp test.

I did traditional base mid-volume and am early into the first block of Sweet Spot base low volume (which I’m supplementing with 30 minute endurance workouts on my off days). Today’s workout required determination but I finished it and am looking forward to an easy 30 minutes tomorrow.

What I’ve discovered is that nutrition is very important here. I’ve also discovered I do have a deep well of motivation to excel at this sport. I have discovered how much I crave being in “the zone”. I also discovered this year that listening to minimalist music is not good for training, but most other types of music are even better than watching video.


Yes to the not feeling guilty about missing workouts. I missed 2 in my first plan and was looking to make them up but due to circumstances it just wasn’t happening. Once I made the decision to skip the workout it was no big deal and even the decision wasn’t full of hemming and hawing about it.

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I learned that I need to work as hard at recovering as at training. I need to take one day off of the bike each week. Recovery weeks are supposed to be easy. I also learned that new job and new commute may mean that a high volume plan is no longer possible. And, perhaps most importantly, I need to be ok with all of that.


What a line. I’m borrowing this. Thanks :smiley:

Have learned how much life/work stress affect training and riding, albeit with about 3-4 weeks of lag. Started constructively taking pressure off of myself at work (long story), and suddenly found that workouts were feeling easier, and the emotional “dark place” of high effort levels or unexpectedly high RPE was a heck of a lot less dark, and in fact almost welcome. Broke the pattern of DNFing workouts that had plagued much of the middle of 2020. Could dig deeper for longer on outdoor rides too and felt like the body was getting more on board with training in general. Handling more volume, recovering better, and able to read my body’s signals more clearly too (listening is another matter :wink: ).

And it all really does seem to trace back to reducing a lot of self-pressure in what would seem like an unrelated part of life.


I’ve learned that sometimes you need to just go back to the basics of what you enjoy about cycling. Also having a cool place to train helps.

Back in March when I started working from home, I, like everyone else figured it would be prime time to train and get fast! Well it didn’t work out for me that way. You see my pain cave is also my office, and it used to be a place I went to for fun, training or just relaxation. But now I was working in that room 8-9 hours a day and I just didn’t want to spend any more time in there, so after a few weeks I slowly stopped training. But it’s not as if I sat on the couch and ate bon bons either. We had only been in this house 9 months at the time and this was the perfect time for me to get started on my other man cave, the garage. I built two work benches, purchased my dream tool box, did some drywall work and primed about 1/3 of it so far. I also spent a lot of time on rehabbing my lawn and other odds and ends needed around the house.

No of course being in SC, the weather got warmer so I could have gotten outside but since I let my fitness slip I didn’t want to embarrass myself so my fitness slipped some more. You know a catch 22.

By August I was craving to get back on the bike as I had a Hincapie event in October. I got back on, but I don’t think I went about it the right way, at least for me, as it was short lived. IIRC I did one easy Zwift ride and then jumped right into a training plan with a dismal FTP test and then a couple of weeks of training. I found i boring, uninteresting and I really wasn’t making progress. Plus I was still in my “work” office and the training side of the room had been neglected and still wasn’t what I wanted it to be so my motivation just fizzled. Needless to say I bailed on the Hincapie event.

Then comes December, I’m getting the itch again and now I’m making plans. And TBH some of the Vegan Cyclists TLAP videos in December motivated me even more. For starters I rearranged the room, or at least my office desk, giving the room a bit more space. Then I got some cool LED lights for around the desk and behind the bookshelf where the TV is on. I picked up one of the knockoff Wahoo desks, hung some art that had been sitting on the floor and some other odds and ends. There is still some things left to do but I can now separate work from play which helps me. So now I have a cool space (to me) to train, next up back to basics… This time I didn’t just want to start with a training plan, I’m just riding to have fun. It’s all been on Zwift so far. Some days I’ll do a group ride, some days I’ll pick a route that I don’t have a badge for, or I’ll do a special event like the Fondo or TDZ. I’ve had 3 huge TSS weeks and am loving it. There are challenges, things to do, setting PRs etc. And my fitness has come back quick. I’m about at the same level I was last year at this time which isn’t bad. Now just need a few extra pounds to go away and we will be ready for spring. My plan is to finish TDZ before I start on any formal training plan. I will probably at least do a ramp test soon so I can get some more accurate TSS numbers. But for me, it’s all about enjoyment for now and structure will come later.

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I learned that a optimized plan designed to squeak out every last watt, but one that is poorly executed is useless compared to an “OK” plan that is perfectly executed.

I spent hours laying out and planning theoretical block periodized and polarized plans that had tons of long Z2 rides I was going to nail with my newly gained free time. My compliance was garbage, and I left a lot of improvement on the table, I’m afraid.

If I could go back to March, I’d trust the TR training catalogue and stick to my base-build-specialty plan, focusing on full compliance.

I got way to wrapped up in all the polarized training is superior to sweet spot talk, and am glad I’m realizing it and am fixing it before I compromise 2021 as well.


Ha, I realized, well exactly what you intended, works perfectly for me.

Tons of Z2 volume, huge increase in overall volume. I got dramatically better.

For me, a polarized or as I implement it, a hybrid polarized distribution is the best option.

It likely isn’t for many others.


Hope your recovery is going well @tin_man !

I learned that without group rides, I am far less interested in cycling. I can’t ride alone for 9 months straight and maintain the same level of interest without all that a group ride brings.


Great thread. First year of structured training. At 52 and an ex career soldier 2020 taught me that,

  1. TR works.

  2. I’m fitter now than I thought I ever could be after 50.

  3. I’m not as fit as I want to be :grinning:

  4. I enjoy cycling up hills.

  5. TR works.


Thanks, I just hit the one year mark,I feel much better. I rode a century on New years day. 6500ft elevation gain and averaged 213W. I am proud of this, and seem to finally growing in the past 2 months. Prior to that I was very sporadic with my ramp tests.

That time in zone over a longer period is interesting.
Is that a Trainerroad feature ?

are you talking Steve Reich and Terry Riley sort of stuff? Maybe during a low intensity ride if I want to zone out, but if I listened to that during a VO2 Max session I’d probably throw my bike at the speakers :rofl:

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I learned that:

Without a goal performance goal, i fall apart (fixing that in 2021 with process goals)
I reaaaaaally need better sleep
Fixing nutrition requires a lot more effort
I gotta work on my consistency


Lol yes! I tried to listen to the Chairman Dances by John Adams while training once and yes I too was on the verge of a basement bike throw!

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