So last April, I bought a Cannondale Synapse Carbon which I have been using to do 2 to 3 rides a week at around 20km each. Those rides equate to about 40 min ride time, and I am doing the same route over and over again getting frustrated that I don’t seem to be improving my time anymore. On all the segments for the route, I’m in the top 10%. I’m not fast, but I wouldn’t say I’m slow… I’m run of the mill.
I want to get better and faster (as we all do), but I have no idea how to do this with my route. I guess I should be doing things like intervals, but I’m not sure there is a better way to do this.
Any hints or guides on how to make my 20km route better for me and give me more back?
If you are new to cycling, I wouldn’t recommend jumping straight into a plan. Build up a base of fitness and endurance by just riding without structure for 3-6 months. Build up to longer distances and if you want to do hard efforts, do them where the route/terrain calls for it. You are going to need that base to start training with structure. Once you’ve built that up, the low volume plans would be the options you would have if you’re limited to 2-3 rides per week. Start with base and move your way through the progression.
If you always do the same loop you will stop improving at some point. Your body adapts to always doing the same route (same duration and same intensity) until it is no longer a challenge. In order to improve you need variation and progression, so you will be working different energy systems. It seems like all you are doing is threshold or SS now.
Is there a reason that you have A) only been riding 2-3 days per week, B) only riding for ~40min, and C) doing the same route over and over?
I would start by maybe exploring a bit more if your area allows you to do that. Try new roads, new climbs, and new towns. While doing that, extend your rides a bit. Every week try to have 1 ride that is a bit longer and that you take at a slightly easier pace. So take your 20km and try 30km, then 40km, etc. Then, if your schedule allows, take your 2-3 days and make it 3-4, then 4-5. Cycling is an aerobic sport and the 2 things that will most directly impact your fitness and improvement are the volume that you’re are able to ride and your ability to recover from that volume.
I don’t think a strict training plan is necessary. I would first get to a place where you have neared your maximum allowable time and you are still not seeing improvement before looking at a plan.
For starters, you’ve found the right website if you are looking for a beginner training plan. Sign up for TR and give it a shot. Even if you don’t have a power meter your could start a plan based on either perceived RPE, or Heart Rate (Heart Rate Monitors are fairly inexpensive in the pyramid of bike tech).
If you are only riding 20 km 2-3 times per week, then you will eventually plateau. If you want to get faster you probably need to start adding in more volume, either by extending the length of your rides, adding additional days of riding, or both.
I am assuming that you are only riding this 20 km route because the roads in your area are limited in your area. If that is the case, then maybe you should look into getting a trainer so you can ride more inside. If that is not an option, then you will just have to make due with what you have. Frankly, when I do outside rides I literally do them on a 2.5 mile loop in a residential area by a country club. I do every single hard outside ride on that loop. Does it get boring, sure, but it’s a safe route, and I know I am getting faster.
bunch of ways to get faster, starting with drafting somebody faster than you!
Performance on the bike scales with volume, if you are doing 3 times a week for 40 minutes, that is only 2 hours of riding for the week. Simply going out and increasing that to 6 hours/week will produce results.
If you only have 3-4 hours/week then some form of high intensity intervals (HIIT) is likely your best bet. I got nearly as fast (versus TR mid volume plan) simply doing two mid-week 75 minute high-intensity spin classes and a 1-2 hour ride on the weekend.
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