By the end of September, all those summer miles result in us being at our peak of fitness, then at the end of October British Summer Time ends. The days get shorter and with the cold wet days of winter our cycling mileage is, for most of us, greatly reduced. This reduction in saddle time will take its toll. At least it always does for me .
Last winter was pretty grim and we had lots of lingering snow. Being a fair weather cyclist I think I only went out on the bike once from the end of November to the following March. And when I did eventually put bum to saddle, everything hurt!
Worse still I was really unfit. As a consequence, and to ensure that I fair better this coming winter, I have been reading up on what is termed “Detraining”.
Detraining, why I was puffing and panting!
A study of relatively fit subjects was carried out at the Human Performance Laboratory in Texas. The subjects, which included cyclists, trained vigorously for 6 months and then stopped training for 3 months. Their fitness deteriorated very quickly.
After only 2 weeks, the muscular and cardiovascular benefits that the training had produced, declined with a half-time of approximately 12 days. This means that after 2 weeks of inactivity they had gone back to halfway between their trained state and the level that they were at before the 6 months training began. After another 2 weeks off, they had lost half of what was left, and so on.
So that explains why I was puffing and panting!
But the good news is that a couple of intense one-hour rides each week will safeguard much of your aerobic fitness and muscle strength. Of course you might not want to ride “intensely” for an hour. That sounds like hard work! That being the case, just add some intense bursts into your normal rides. My previous item at http://anerleybc.org/are-you-speed-limited/ suggests one effective way to do this. Another is climbing hills, and we have no shortage of them in Surrey!
If nothing else, a change is as good as a rest and there are of course other ways of maintaining your edge, and it does not necessarily have to be on a bike. You could get your running shoes on, or visit the gym. Weight training, especially during the winter off-season, is becoming increasingly popular with cyclists. A trend being set by pro and other top cyclists.
It has taken a lot of hard work and many miles to get to your current level of fitness, so don’t let it ebb away during the coming winter months.