Will shorter endurance rides do anything to maintain fitness?

hurt my back about 5 weeks ago and took a bit of time off. PT doc has cleared me for non-sustained lower-power riding for the time being. Looks like its just 1hr endurance rides for the next few weeks…maybe…maybe a few short tempo intervals but probably not worth it. Im a bit concerned about losing aerobic endurace fitness, but with no longer rides and no sustained efforts, im not sure how to maintain, or if i should just accept ill lose some and have to rebuild in a few weeks when I can get back to tempo/SS work.

Well, they’re certainly better than not riding. That should answer your question.


just get back on the bike and consistently put down 1 hour aerobic endurance rides. You’ve already lost some adaptations like plasma volume, don’t worry about intensity just get back on the bike and start rebuilding that base.

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1hr easy rides make a real difference in my opinion. Just getting out a few times a week reminds you that you’re a cyclist, it keeps your peddle stroke smooth and your brain alert to the possibilities of the future. Never a waste of time, always enjoyable.


P.s. I hurt my back last year in September. it’s something that happens sometimes. PT said no efforts for three months so I ditched my cx season and did as discussed above, a few 1hr easy rides a week. By Christmas I was spinning out 4hr rides a day in Z1, and after ten days straight of this I won a 4hr SS mtb race.
Just get out, spin easy, daydream and before you know it you’ll be back in the game.


Better to take it easy. If you do too much, you may have a setback and have to start over again. I’ve been there and done that so that would be my advice.

Most guys I see riding around coast every chance they get. Riding for 1 hour with constant pressure on the pedals is much better use of your limited time than what they do, and you can use the easy endurance pace to focus on your breathing, body position, pedal stroke, cadence, surfing the terrain, nutrition, etc… By the time you can start to build again, you will have made great improvements in other parts of cycling that are just as important as power.

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Will shorter endurance rides do anything to maintain fitness?

Maintain fitness – yes.
Build fitness – yes.
Make you faster – no.

The following is 4 months of ONLY Z2/Endurance rides.
A lot of 1hr weekday rides with longer 3-5hr weekend rides.


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That is great advice. Time on the bike, keeping it consistent over an hour at a low intensity does wonders for me. I am actually switching to that now in this base phase, as a year or training, up and down with intensity but overall a hell of a lot and my body needs a break. This is where these type of workouts come in to restore the balance, at least from my experience.

I also wouldn’t see much wrong with stepping the intensity up by 1-2% each week. If your therapist is worried about you overdoing it, a 1% increase in workload a week is about as minimal as you can go. I wouldn’t go straight in to tempo. Do the easy rides for a week, see how it feels and report back. Be honest with yourself and your therapist about pain. If they see that you’re committed to getting back the right way, they will likely give you a bit more leash.
I’m a PT and this is how I personally think. If you have a very active patient who is itching to get back to normal activities, you need to hold them back. Hold them back even more than they probably should, because once they get a taste of it they’ll go and do something stupid like a 4 hour outdoor feisty group ride before they’re ready.

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