Intervals or all-out intensity til you drop?

At the beginning of every season, I want to try my hand at riding with the A-group on the Thursday night ride to test myself and see how long I can hang. Sometimes I can only make it for 30 minutes before I blow up, but on occasion I can hang for close to an hour before getting dropped.

However, from a training perspective, I wonder if I would be better served by sticking with some hard VO2 max or anaerobic intervals instead so that I can be sure to get a solid workout in at my own level.

Does anyone know which approach is better? Which will make me a stronger and faster cyclist? Pushing myself to hang as long as I can with people who are stronger or sticking with an interval workout that is tailored to my own needs?


Does the group ride prevent you from doing the rest of your training? If not seems fine to find your limit. If you can’t work for a week afterwards #notworth.

I’m usually recovered by Saturday or Sunday after trying to stick with the A group on Thursday.

Would that suggest trying to stick with them each week rather than doing solo intervals at my own pace?

…some of the local guys in town make the argument that you get better training gains by sticking to prescribed intervals tailored to you and that people get less out of trying to stick with stronger riders.

It seems to me that it’s good to push yourself beyond your limits and try riding with people who are stronger.

But from an exercise science standpoint, I’m curious to know which approach gives better gains longer term.

Depends on your goals. Do you want to get the most gains out of your time? Do the trainer work. Just want to enjoy the challenge and test yourself? Do the A ride. You could just go till you get dropped then try to do your intervals on the road.

On a pure time efficiency basis hard to beat the trainer. Ultimately though we train to ride bikes. So going and riding your bike sometimes is important.

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Agree with a everyone above, maybe mix in that group ride once or twice a month just to test yourself and keep giving you that carrot to chase. I don’t see it being detrimental to training and may serve as that little extra fire to push you during your days on the trainer.

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I like to mix it up like @MI-XC suggests. And I agree with @ErickVH as well. Depends on your goals.

One thing to consider is that perhaps you’re not doing the most beneficial types of intervals for what you’re trying to achieve.

When you say “can hang for 30 but sometimes an hour” that says “sustained fatigue resistant” type intervals to me, not VO2max work. If you’re always getting dropped at a certain point like a hill that lasts less than 5 mins, then those types of workouts can help.

But it sounds like you just eventually trail off the back. You blow up. If that’s the case, forget the VO2max intervals for a block or two and do longer SS and Over-unders.

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Thank you all for your feedback. These are great suggestions.

@tshortt, good point about the intervals that I should be doing. You’re right - VO2 max intervals usually don’t tax me the way over-unders do. I can pretty much nail SS but struggle with long intervals at or above threshold. I’ll start incorporating these more.

The variation in time (30 min to an hour) is explained by rider composition. When all the fast guys in town show up, I can hang for 30 min; when it’s mostly slower A riders, I can last longer, but still usually peter off the back.

This has been helpful. Thanks again!

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…as for when I usually get dropped, it’s on flat straight stretches when the speed goes way up. I can hang on the hills because I’m light and have a decent power to weight ratio, but I just don’t have the watts to hang with the strong guys on the flat sections.