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  1. #1
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    The Cyclist's Training Bible: One Year Later

    I see so many questions in this forum about how to become a stronger cyclist, I was asking the same thing just over a year ago. Quite a few people recommended the Cyclist's Training Bible so I bought the book and started planning my season. Just a little background, I started riding on the road in the beginning of 2008. Before that I would mountain bike maybe once a month and run once or twice a month, I wouldn't really say I was in great shape. I am 37 years old and I travel lots for work and work odd hours so nailing down my training schedule is tough. I don't have the next month's work schedule until about the 25th of each month so I plan from there and make weekly changes as necessary. Here is my Reader's Digest of last season:

    I got the book in October of 2009 and made a very flexible plan for the season. I also bought a cheap Timex heart rate monitor and used heart rate for my zones all year. I would really like a power meter but have mouths to feed and diapers to supply for a while. Maybe when mom goes back to work that will be my gift to myself. I made some major changes to my training, before I bought the book I would always ride with other riders and I always rode hard. As far as racing is concerned I was Cat 5 pack filler at best.

    Last winter I was very dedicated. Initially I found it strange riding by myself so much, but quickly discovered how much easier it was to stick to my plan and be disciplined when I rode alone. My solo rides also became a form of meditation and they really fit my busy schedule well because I could just leave from home as needed. I didn't have to try to fit my riding schedule with other riders or try to meet somewhere to ride. I did lots of easy base miles and would fall behind on the very few "easy" group rides I did because I was sticking to my schedule. I also tried bonk training to shed some extra pounds which really helped on the hills later in the year.

    I began my racing season in February, I wasn’t quite sure how I would do because I wasn’t out hammering on every ride. I was competitive in every raced I entered and got lots of top 3 finishes (still waiting for that elusive win!) and set up teammates for the win with a leadout or an attack that eventually formed the winning break. I moved up to a 4 early in the season and found myself entering the 3/4 fields VS 4/5 when the option was available. I wasn’t as competitive as I was in the 5’s, but had a couple top 10’s in some large 3/4 fields and was able to work hard to set up victories for my teammates.

    I did have some stretches when my riding wasn’t where I would have liked it to be. Sometimes the reason was obvious: Illness, family commitments keeping me off the bike, busier than normal work schedule. Other times the reason wasn’t so apparent, but after reviewing my training journal I could see why I wasn’t riding well. In the middle of the summer I got very busy with work and needed to help out lots at home and I wasn’t sticking to my training schedule. By August things got very busy at home because I needed to change a guest room into a room for our 2 year old and get the nursery ready for our 2nd who arrived earlier this month. At that point I more or less dropped my plan and would ride when I could, it was amazing to see how quickly my form went down the tubes.

    I decided to sign up for the Tour de Tucson on November 20th. I designed a “mini” season around that ride starting the first week of September. I’ve been able to stick to my plan (a month off to help with the newborn really helps, I go back to work tomorrow so we’ll see how things go) and have seen very good results. I took a long look at my training journal and I’m using what worked best for me all year. That will be invaluable information next season.

    Here’s a list of the biggest changes I made to my training:

    - You don’t have to ride hard all the time to get faster, actually it’s the complete opposite. I learned LOTS about the importance of daily, weekly, and monthly recovery. Chocolate milk and Recoverite are my friends now too.

    - I began a strength training routine, I’ve read the pros/cons and I think it makes me stronger on the bike. Maybe it doesn’t result in higher power numbers but I was able to strengthen the areas that used to give me trouble on the bike resulting in more comfort during rides. Before strength training my lower back, glutes, or hamstrings would burn so badly I would have to ease up. You don’t need anything fancy, I bought a stability ball and some 20 pound dumbbells and I was out the door for under 50 bucks.

    - A training journal is such an important tool. If you don’t already know about periodization, you should learn. I was able to look back on my season and the biggest mistakes I made were not recovering properly during my recovery weeks. It’s tempting to hit the Tuesday/Thursday night hammerfest, so tempting I would go when I should have been riding easy on my own.

    - I rode lots more on my own. I still would go on group rides, but not nearly as many. Using my training journal I could look back at my season and see when I was going on too many group rides and my training would suffer. The Tuesday/Thursday night hammerfests are good but outside that if you’re riding with 5 people and they all have different agendas it becomes difficult to stick to your plan.

    I know that’s a lot to read through, congrats if you’re still with me. If you’re looking to start racing and not sure how to get the ball rolling the book is an excellent way to get from Point A to Point B. As far as my season is concerned, if I did things like I did last year I’d be winding things down right now but I’m still riding hard preparing for Tucson. I’m going to take a couple weeks off the bike in November and December and also do some running. I might try to race more next year and cat up to a 3, it all depends on my family commitments and work schedule. I will probably start with a modified base period this year and add more SST training in addition to the long slow distance rides. I'm also saving for a power meter, if Metrigear comes out with their vector pedals that might be a purchase when we get our tax refund. Either that or a minivan.
    Last edited by EDUC8-or; 10-24-2010 at 06:32 AM.

  2. #2
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    Excellent post!

  3. #3
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    Thanks. How many hours did you train in a typical week (both actual and goal)?

    How much of that was biking vs. strength training time?

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    Great post...I read the whole thing. My experience using the Training Bible was very similar. I still do group rides though...I think that while they make it harder to stick to the particular workout your plan may have scheduled they have other benefits - the social aspects, pack skills etc..and they're fun. We should still be having fun out there.

    What I like about Friel's books is the explanation of the physiology of training - the adaptations taking place in response to 20 min intervals at threshold as opposed to 3 min. intervals at an anaerobic pace and so on and how that gets you ready to race.

    Good luck with the training.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art853
    Thanks. How many hours did you train in a typical week (both actual and goal)?

    How much of that was biking vs. strength training time?
    My season goal was around 350 hours, most weeks my goal was to train anywhere from 7.5-10 hours. If I wasn't super busy I probably trained 9 hours a week. In the beginning of the season when I was focusing on strength I would spend around 1.5-2 hours a week doing the strength workouts. Later in the season with better weather and longer days I might only do about 30 minutes just focusing on my upper body and core since my legs were getting plenty of work on the bike. I train about 5 hours during a typical recovery week.

    Quote Originally Posted by t-dub
    Great post...I read the whole thing. My experience using the Training Bible was very similar. I still do group rides though...I think that while they make it harder to stick to the particular workout your plan may have scheduled they have other benefits - the social aspects, pack skills etc..and they're fun. We should still be having fun out there.

    What I like about Friel's books is the explanation of the physiology of training - the adaptations taking place in response to 20 min intervals at threshold as opposed to 3 min. intervals at an anaerobic pace and so on and how that gets you ready to race.

    Good luck with the training.
    It's hard to tell from my post, but I still do plenty of group rides. There are certain rides I will only do solo, the one specific are recovery rides. It's easy to get tempted to sprint for the town sign on a group recovery ride. I learned I do better with active recovery but need to keep things very easy.

    I would usually try to get to a Tuesday/Thursday night group ride when my schedule would permit and also a Saturday morning shop ride. Just like you said, it really helps with social aspects, bike handling, and this is all about fun. Plus a good way to get stronger is ride with faster riders.
    Last edited by EDUC8-or; 10-24-2010 at 11:30 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDUC8-or
    In the beginning of the season when I was focusing on strength I would spend around 1.5-2 hours a week doing the strength workouts. Later in the season with better weather and longer days I might only do about 30 minutes just focusing on my upper body and core since my legs were getting plenty of work on the bike.
    It may be in the book, and if it is I'll look it up, but what strength exercises do you do?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiImSeth
    It may be in the book, and if it is I'll look it up, but what strength exercises do you do?

    If you have a pair of olympic dumbells where you can change the plates you really can get by with just that. You can do a whole whomp of lunge movements, stationary, walking, reverse and side. Split squats with dumbells are also great and you dont need a lot of weight same with sumo squats. Box step ups as well are excellent . If you can spring for a barbell with some plates you cant go wrong with deadlifts, roman deads, stifflegged deads, barbell hack squats and dead-start zercher squats an advanced movement but great because it doesnt require a squat rack. Good luck!

  8. #8
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    Nice post. I have the CTB but I've yet to follow it religiously. This season was the first time that I actually "trained". I followed Carmichael's Time Crunched Training Program and reaped huge rewards but I want to be "Top 5" instead of "Top 20". I really noticed toward the end of the season that slacking off on the strength/core training had it's effects. Especially in hand pain since my core wasn't holding me up anymore. So the big plan (starting Nov. 1) for next season is to incorporate a modified P90x routine with the CTB "base" training. Then in the early spring I plan on switching to a hybrid CTB/TCTP program.

    Something to note: I struggle with the recovery aspect as I always feel like I need to ride more/harder. But the criterium that was my goal event shed some light on things. I did fairly well but was a little bummed about my effort and thus I had a pity party for a week and didn't ride much but at the end of the week I decided to race in the Boise Twilight Criterium and the week of "rest" had a dramatic effect and I was at the front with six laps to go (when the "incident" happened) and felt like I was riding WAY stronger than I did the week before.

    Another thing of interest is that I have a riding friend that rides with a Boise pro who happens to also be a Sports Physician and the doc says that if you are a Cat 4 or 5 and you are training more than 10 hours a week you aren't doing yourself any favors.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxhacksaw
    Nice post. I have the CTB but I've yet to follow it religiously. This season was the first time that I actually "trained". I followed Carmichael's Time Crunched Training Program and reaped huge rewards but I want to be "Top 5" instead of "Top 20". I really noticed toward the end of the season that slacking off on the strength/core training had it's effects. Especially in hand pain since my core wasn't holding me up anymore. So the big plan (starting Nov. 1) for next season is to incorporate a modified P90x routine with the CTB "base" training. Then in the early spring I plan on switching to a hybrid CTB/TCTP program.

    Something to note: I struggle with the recovery aspect as I always feel like I need to ride more/harder. But the criterium that was my goal event shed some light on things. I did fairly well but was a little bummed about my effort and thus I had a pity party for a week and didn't ride much but at the end of the week I decided to race in the Boise Twilight Criterium and the week of "rest" had a dramatic effect and I was at the front with six laps to go (when the "incident" happened) and felt like I was riding WAY stronger than I did the week before.

    Another thing of interest is that I have a riding friend that rides with a Boise pro who happens to also be a Sports Physician and the doc says that if you are a Cat 4 or 5 and you are training more than 10 hours a week you aren't doing yourself any favors.
    Recovery is important, you will be mostly fresh for all of your hard workouts and most importantly, your races. Before this year I always rode hard and felt like I had dead legs quite a bit. Now I try to be well rested for the really tough workouts. I feel like I can push myself much harder and I usually don't have problems finishing that last interval, attacking during the hammerfest, or pulling the group along on Saturday morning. There are still days when I'm not 100% and then I will often listen to my body and just head for home.

    I've sort of followed your progress and the results will really improve with more experience. My goal for the year was to be near the front in most of my rides and races, initially it was tough learning how to move and stay up front but things are so much smoother and (usually) safer up front.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxhacksaw
    Another thing of interest is that I have a riding friend that rides with a Boise pro who happens to also be a Sports Physician and the doc says that if you are a Cat 4 or 5 and you are training more than 10 hours a week you aren't doing yourself any favors.
    Could you ellaborate on this statement?

    I'm just getting back into cycling after many years, and considering getting back into racing next season.

    .

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxhacksaw
    Nice post. I have the CTB but I've yet to follow it religiously. This season was the first time that I actually "trained". I followed Carmichael's Time Crunched Training Program and reaped huge rewards but I want to be "Top 5" instead of "Top 20". I really noticed toward the end of the season that slacking off on the strength/core training had it's effects. Especially in hand pain since my core wasn't holding me up anymore. So the big plan (starting Nov. 1) for next season is to incorporate a modified P90x routine with the CTB "base" training. Then in the early spring I plan on switching to a hybrid CTB/TCTP program.
    I'd really be interested in what you've got in mind regarding the hybrid CTB/TCTP plan. I've been thinking of doing something similar, but haven't started any real planning yet.

    I used CTB religiously for a few seasons about 15 years ago when i was doing some racing, and it seemed to work. But now with a 1 year old daughter, and the desire and opportunity to do some great recreational road and mountain bike rides, i just dont want to commit to following CTB with that much structure.
    "'complicated, diverse creature' is adspeak for a d-bag..."
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  12. #12
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    Well for me, 8-10 hours a week is about all I have for training. But according to the Doc's statement as well at Carmichael's this is enough to ride at a high level for the Average Joe. I think it is a matter of if you try to ride at a (way) higher volume and yet don't have the (other) resources that a professional racer has as far as the "off the bike" aspects of training go then you're not adding to you fitness.

    I plan on doing the Base/Build training part from the CTB (starting November 1.) but then I will use the "Experienced Competitor" program from the TCTP starting May. I turn 50 in August and the Sr. Games are right after my birthday so I want to try an peak for that.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

  13. #13
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    Excellent post, +1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matador-IV
    Could you ellaborate on this statement?
    This is how I choose to interpret it:

    If you are training 10 hours a week and not able to crack cat 3 after, say, two or three years of consistent training and racing, then training volume is not your limiter, and adding more volume probably won't provide the "missing link".

    I don't think he means that training more is necessarily harmful. Depending on your lifestyle, constitution, and psychology, 12 or more hours a week might be completely sustainable and give you enough energy to hit the right amount of intensity on the bike. However, there are people out there who think they need to train 12 hours a week (for example) to get to cat 3, and forcing onesself to hit those numbers will cause most people to burn out.

    All else being equal, more training volume is better, but all else is never equal. Look at how much you are currently training; could you realistically add an hour or two per week? If yes, then do it. If unsure, give it a shot and see how your body reacts. But don't chase after some arbitrary number of hours just because of some book, or chart, or table.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretender
    This is how I choose to interpret it:

    If you are training 10 hours a week and not able to crack cat 3 after, say, two or three years of consistent training and racing, then training volume is not your limiter, and adding more volume probably won't provide the "missing link".

    I don't think he means that training more is necessarily harmful. Depending on your lifestyle, constitution, and psychology, 12 or more hours a week might be completely sustainable and give you enough energy to hit the right amount of intensity on the bike. However, there are people out there who think they need to train 12 hours a week (for example) to get to cat 3, and forcing onesself to hit those numbers will cause most people to burn out.

    All else being equal, more training volume is better, but all else is never equal. Look at how much you are currently training; could you realistically add an hour or two per week? If yes, then do it. If unsure, give it a shot and see how your body reacts. But don't chase after some arbitrary number of hours just because of some book, or chart, or table.
    Makes sense.
    I guess an increase in intensity would be more beneficial than adding hours?

    I've got Joe's Bible, but have not put any of it to good use. Tough to get through- like a bloody textbook!
    I've also got Carmichael's Time Crunched program, and it makes a ton of sense- especially for an old geezer like myself (48)- but I digested the contents too late to do me any good during the 'cross season. (Which is over in 2.5 weeks for me).
    Mebbe next year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RRRoubaix
    I guess an increase in intensity would be more beneficial than adding hours?
    High intensity training gives the most immediate gains but plateaus quickly and can burn you out if you go back to that well too often.

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    Yes, excellent post. How did you go in your A race?

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    Thanks for this post. Im deffinately going to order this book

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neon
    Yes, excellent post. How did you go in your A race?
    Thanks, coming into my A race I wasn't in as great of shape as I would have liked. I strayed from my training plan a bit leading up to the race and ended up getting 7th. I had poor positioning coming into the final 3k or so and found myself out front. I was able to give a leadout to my teammate who ended up winning the race, but blew up about 200m short of the line and lost 5 more places.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiImSeth
    It may be in the book, and if it is I'll look it up, but what strength exercises do you do?
    I found on the rainy days, that do my set of 8-10 core exercises, alternating with 25 reps of hindu squats, and maybe doing some frog squats when i got bored on those days, helped tremendously with strength issues.

    if i was even stronger , could do more reps.

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    Well my season is officially over, rode in El Tour de Tucson on Saturday. Talk about a wild and tough ride! Sort of like a crit for 8 miles, then a cross race with a river crossing, mix in some climbs, another river crossing, then 31 mph headwinds for the last 20+ miles to wash it all down. I got there super early and had a decent starting spot, got stuck behind a wreck just before the first river crossing, and then behind another one at the first crossing. Couldn't bridge up to the main group, I had the hammer down with about 50 people behind me but no one would pull through. Got within about 30 yards, one or two guys blew past me and bridged up but we caught up with them later. After I backed off people started to pull through. Our group swallowed up the stragglers from the main group and we eventually grew to 100+. I came into the second wash at the front of that group and then bridged up to another group after the wash. That was key, I had friends who were with me coming into that wash that I never saw again until the finish line. I was pegged for about 30+ minutes but knew I had to push it to get on with another group. We eventually started working together quite well and grew to about 80 riders by the finish. I came in at 4:56 and change so can now start up front next year with the Platinum group.

    I am drafting out next year's plan, I'm off the bike this week and will probably ride once or twice a week until December 12th when I pick up with next season's plan. I am running a half marathon on December 11th so will do some running between now and then, I'm also in the market for a trainer. I hate trainers and have avoided one until now but think with the latest addition to our family I can squeeze in workouts after dark and help mom around the house a bit more.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDUC8-or
    Well my season is officially over, rode in El Tour de Tucson on Saturday. Talk about a wild and tough ride! Sort of like a crit for 8 miles, then a cross race with a river crossing, mix in some climbs, another river crossing, then 31 mph headwinds for the last 20+ miles to wash it all down. I got there super early and had a decent starting spot, got stuck behind a wreck just before the first river crossing, and then behind another one at the first crossing. Couldn't bridge up to the main group, I had the hammer down with about 50 people behind me but no one would pull through. Got within about 30 yards, one or two guys blew past me and bridged up but we caught up with them later. After I backed off people started to pull through. Our group swallowed up the stragglers from the main group and we eventually grew to 100+. I came into the second wash at the front of that group and then bridged up to another group after the wash. That was key, I had friends who were with me coming into that wash that I never saw again until the finish line. I was pegged for about 30+ minutes but knew I had to push it to get on with another group. We eventually started working together quite well and grew to about 80 riders by the finish. I came in at 4:56 and change so can now start up front next year with the Platinum group.

    I am drafting out next year's plan, I'm off the bike this week and will probably ride once or twice a week until December 12th when I pick up with next season's plan. I am running a half marathon on December 11th so will do some running between now and then, I'm also in the market for a trainer. I hate trainers and have avoided one until now but think with the latest addition to our family I can squeeze in workouts after dark and help mom around the house a bit more.
    That sounds like a crazy race. Small arms fire probably would have made it a little more interesting though.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

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    Very nice thread. I, too, had been using the Friel plan, although I got interrupted during my build phase and afterwards. Despite a complete lack of riding, I did alright during the races.

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    Nice job on the Tour - congratulations on Platinum.

    What is your next A event?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxhacksaw
    Well for me, 8-10 hours a week is about all I have for training. But I turn 50 in August and the Sr. Games are right after my birthday so I want to try an peak for that.
    Heads Up, Hacky....

    Senior Games can be humbling. Just because you are turning 50 and you will now be racing with guys your age or older, do not expect a walk-over.

    You've been at it racing now for what, one season? In the Sr. Games fields, you will encounter a lot of 'experience'..plenty of former cat 2s, a few former pros. etc. You will be racing against riders who've trained and raced for many many seasons..They are good at it. Just being one of the youngest in the field will not give you any advantage..

    You might want to 'pencil-in' to your preliminary race calender for next season the 'Huntsman Sr Games' in southern Utah. October 4-8th. This is pretty much the 'TDF" for many senior age cyclists from all over the US and many from Europe. I've raced fields there with 5 national and a few Euro champions in my age group alone. 5 yr age groupings and 4 days of racing. Almost everyone I've raced with there agrees it is the toughest field they encounter all season. Hillclimb, TT, Crit and RR on four days. 3 categories for each age group. Excellent courses and usually great weather around St. George and Zion. A good 'end' to a season.

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