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Four spring tips for your best season ever

It's been a fun, incredibly fast winter of training this year, hasn't it?!? There have been a lot of lessons learned and skills unlocked, as well as realizations that we are far more capable of handling training stress...as long as we keep our focus on the things that will actually do it for us.


As the clocks spring forward and the days get longer, many riders spring at the opportunity to get more riding in, often at the expense of dropping their strength training completely. While getting out in the warmer weather and enjoying the great outdoors is a fantastic idea for a week or so (it's why we ride bikes, isn't it?), we don't want to drop out of the routine that has helped us build our sound foundation of fitness.


Here are my four keys to keep up our rhythm in training and adaptations so we can have our best season ever.


It's all about adaptation

As the mercury rises to more favorable conditions for riding, let's keep our focus on training enough to get the training stress we need executed in a way that we can perform the training and have the necessary time and sleep to get the adaptations to that training.


Remember, it takes four to eight weeks for our ride today to turn into riding capabilities, and we need to give our bodies the ingredients and setting to make it happen.


Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition

We all want to lose another three to five pounds or "tone up" so we can see those watts per kilo jump up and climb more easily, but those body composition changes only happen when we're training, sleeping, and eating in ways that support our schedule and give us the necessary ingredients to recover and adapt. But if you're thinking of just cutting back on calories, think again; that's a sure-fire way to hit the brakes on the momentum we've built over the last five months. When we want a body composition change in a way that will help support our riding, it's best to have a professional there to guide us.


And if you're happy with where your body composition is and want to continue to enjoy riding, be sure to stay on track with your macros and match your needs as your riding intensity and volume change throughout the season.


Strength training

During the winter we tend to have a bit more of a safety net when we overdo it a little in strength training, but during the prime riding season, overdoing it even a little leads many riders to drop strength completely. This is a huge mistake, especially if we're after the bone-boosting, muscle-mass-bolstering, and tendon-health benefits that strength training offers us.


Instead of dropping strength training, show up consistently for one or two strength training sessions each week, with your primary focus on technique and leaving a little in the tank each session. While RPE will fall a little, showing up consistently for strength training is exactly how we reap the huge general health benefits from the time and effort we put in over the winter, not to mention the performance-enhancing benefits we all want (and expect).


I have several in-season strength training plans available here on TrainingPeaks that are ideal for exactly this. For anyone who was part of our winter group coaching program, those who followed the beginner program should continue with either the bands and bodyweight program or the kettlebells and bands program, while those who followed the advanced winter program should move into the barbells and dumbbells program. Each of these programs is 28 weeks (7 months) long and will take you into a two-week off period right before next winter's group coaching program starts in November.


Bike skills

Though it's often overlooked after a winter of hard training, making the concerted effort and time each week (at least fifteen minutes) to refine or rebuild your bike handling skills will pay off in spades! These skills are not only fun to practice, but are also helpful in transferring the power we've built to forward movement and making us safer out on the road.


Here are a few examples that are relatively easy to add to any warmup or cooldown outside (as long as it's safe to do so!):


  • Ride under 5 mph in the easiest gear while keeping both wheels on a white line

  • Practice cornering: brake before the turn, look through the turn, etc.

  • Practice riding shoulder to shoulder

  • In an empty parking lot with no through traffic:

    • Practice a water bottle or cone "weave"

    • Practice emergency braking: sit back behind the saddle while braking hard without skidding

    • Practice figure 8s, making the distance between water bottles or cones smaller and smaller


As we head into the spring and summer riding period, let's focus on the things that have gotten us here, and the things that will help us be safer and better technical riders will make our season all the more enjoyable. Yes, it may take away from the exhilaration of "just riding," but these are the small commitments we must make if we want to stay strong and healthy and enjoy riding now and for many seasons to come.


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