The following is a guest post by Michael Choate of Colorado Premier Training. Michael is a certified U.S. Cycling coach and develops individualized training programs for cyclists of all abilities. CPT is an affiliate partner of Cycle Oregon and offers special pricing for riders getting ready for this year’s event.
Training plans aren’t just for racers. Any cyclist wanting to improve performance or preparing for a big ride like Cycle Oregon should have a plan. You can find them in books, magazines, online or from your cousin who works as a mechanic for a bike shop in Pocatello. There are many resources and many different approaches. The trick is to find the one that will work best for you and allow you to get the most out of the time you are able to invest in your training. One of the most common plans used by cyclists is one of the most simple –ride as far as possible as often as possible. And, to be sure, there are benefits to be had from just logging saddle time.
However, many people find that taking a more structured and purposeful approach to training pays much larger dividends much more quickly. This often means doing higher-intensity workouts that push your body to adapt and improve your power, stamina and overall fitness. The great thing about these workouts is that they can often be completed relatively quickly. Not every ride has to be several hours long, and not every workout needs to take place on the bike. Many people are surprised at what can be achieved in an hour (or less) of highly focused training. In fact, I’ve worked with many riders who have been able to get faster and more fit while riding less than they did in previous years simply because they followed a more effective plan.
So, which plan is right for you? That’s a decision as personal as choosing the right bike. I’m a cycling coach so I favor plans that are designed to a particular individual that take into account their goals, experience, strengths and weaknesses. By getting constant feedback from my athletes, we can modify the workouts as they progress. If someone gets sick or has to go on an unexpected business trip or whatever life may throw their way, we’ve got the flexibility to deal with that and keep moving forward.
Can you succeed without a coach? Absolutely. However, if you are a newer cyclist or perhaps taking on an event like Cycle Oregon for the first time, I think working with a coach can be an excellent investment. More seasoned riders can benefit as well. Perhaps you feel like you’ve hit a fitness plateau but don’t feel like you have more time to give than what you already devote to riding. A change may be just what the doctor ordered. A coach can help you devise a new plan and design workouts to that will help you get to the next level.
In the end, it’s all about having fun on the bike, and one of the best ways to increase the fun factor is to improve your strength and overall fitness.