Return Of The Long Ride

Posted 04 Sep 2015

By Adam Naguib

tags: racing, training, road

The big ride. Or the long ride. I don't mean that long slow steady crap some people tout as the way to train. Incidentally, I put "LSD" in the same category as all the other nonsense left over from the 70s, like only using the small ring in the off-season -erm...why not just use a cadence sensor if you are trying to spin higher and use any gear you like?- as well as tubulars. I have been somewhat taken up by the wonderful notions of riding these amazing time-condensed programmes, with really exciting short bursts of power. I thought that if I used a turbo trainer indoors for 70 minutes and chucked in some VO2 max intervals with a few seconds at 110% threshold then that's it, right? I will be tip top for race season? That was true. Getting through Cat 4 on those programmes was a doddle. But then it changed. I moved to NorCal and started racing bikes out here.

It didn't really occur to me until recently that the races here are all really, really long. They are really long and have lots and lots of hills. To date in 2015 I have completed 7 road races. Tabulated below are the distances and elevation gains for each. Not an insignificant average distance. However, the data are somewhat skewed by the inclusion of University Road Race (a freak show of an event involving 15 laps around the University of Santa Cruz campus just going up a massive hill, back down, then up again). Omitting that 'outlier', the average road race distance for me this year was a significant 72.28 miles. Hokey dokes, so a pretty good race distance, but that in itself is not super intersting. The more intersting thing is that when I look through my training regimen for 2015, there are only four days where I rode a bike for further than 72.28 miles (excluding races). Only Four!

The long ride seems to be a necessity here in NorCal. Moral of the story, perhaps, is that for competitive racers here a long ride 75 miles or more once every 7-10 days is a must? Hard to argue with the numbers it seems. Let's not even get started on intensity here. In races, sometimes it is really hard (up the hills!) so I don't think that spinning around for 75 miles at 14 mph would cut it. So it seems that in NorCal cycling, the long ride looks to be king.