Date: Thursday, 19 March 2020

Cycling in the age of social distancing

Although cycling is a non-contact sport (unless it is the Keirin, in which case all bets are off), the age of social distancing and isolation can have quite an impact on training. Here are some ideas to keep you going.

Virtual cycling

One of the biggest challenges is keeping up the motivation without the social aspect of training. A way around that is to utilise online platforms like Zwift, which allows you to ride with real people in the virtual world.

However, rather than just riding with strangers, there are numerous ways to meet up with friends for a virtual group ride if you are stuck inside (whether because of enforced isolation or an abundance of caution).
Some tips can be found in the article below – whether planning to do an organised ride or race together, meeting at a certain spot on a course, joining friends already riding, or creating a meetup.

Erg sessions

Yes, I know, this will not be anyone’s favourite suggestion. However, a good erg session is probably the best way to simulate the efforts you will experience during track training (especially sprinting).
Some flat out 30s efforts (‘recovery’ can vary from around 30s to four minutes depending on exactly what you are trying to achieve) can really help you build capacity (and endurance) without having to sit on the erg for hours.
With the availability of track adapters for Lemond Revolution trainers (Mayhem Track Adapters on Facebook) or Wahoo Kickr and other smart trainers ( you can use your track bike on the erg and get some good strength and power work done as well, including big gear standing start efforts.
Need some more ideas? Eddie Dawkins has a training guide out that is aimed at helping track sprinters train indoors – email to find out more (the guide is also included with any Velobike track bike adapter)

Do some body maintenance

Let’s be honest, as cyclists we tend to neglect things like stretching and core strength – if it does not give us bigger quads or more defined calves we tend to ignore it. This would be the perfect time to do some core work (prone holds, et cetera) and some stretching. Your body will thank you when you do get to start racing again. Yoga is a pretty good way to address core strength and flexibility – YouTube is a brilliant resource. For some more extreme core work, have a look at some of the GCN videos on YouTube:

Give your bike some love

Of course, if you are stuck not riding outside, another good way to spend your time is giving your bike a proper clean – let’s be honest, we all tend to put off routine maintenance way too often. If you are not sure how to do that, once again YouTube is your friend – the Park Tool channel is a good starting point.

Watch some racing

There may not be much (anything) going on in the racing sphere at the moment, but there is a lot you can learn a lot from watching recorded cycling as well, whether race tactics, starting gate technique, how an echelon forms in a road race, or how to position yourself in a sprint. Then of course, you can just watch old Tour de France DVDs and enjoy the scenery – it is the closest anyone will get to a European vacation at the moment anyway!
There are many race videos floating around YouTube, but a good place to start is the UCI’s own YouTube channel,

Work on your leg speed

Another element we tend to neglect during regular training is working on top end cadence (we are talking 200rpm here, not 120rpm). There is scientific backing for the idea that the more efficient you make your legs at high cadence, the more efficient they will be at a more sensible cadence as well - your muscles get better at relaxing quickly. However, this takes quite a bit of work. There is no better place to do this than on rollers, so pull out that dusty set of rollers from the back of the shed and get spinning. A light gear (81 or less) is best, and look at doing repeated efforts - a personal favourite is warming up for 10 minutes, then 15s of spinning as fast as you can, 2:45 recovery, 20s as fast as you can, 2:40 recovery, 25s as fast as you can, 2:35 recovery, 20s as fast as you can, 2:40 recovery, 15s as fast as you can, and ten minutes easy to warm down. 

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