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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rollers (and a workout)

I brought my road bike in from the garage last week.  I'd been training exclusively either outside on the pugsley or in the gym on a stationary bike since about the end of september and so it was about time to get back on a real bike.  We've got a set of rollers down in the basement - a birthday gift for tammy last year that i get to use too.  gotta love that!  Anyway, i got on them for the first time since last winter recently and was shocked at how difficult they were.  I managed the balance alright, but could barely muster a speed of 14 mph.  of course speed on rollers doesn't necessarily have any actual correlation to actual outside speed, but it still managed to be quite disheartening - especially since there's a pretty strong web consensus that rollers should be easier than riding outside.  Humph.

I got on them for the second time on the weekend, but not without checking my tire pressure.  Low and behold it had dipped down to 40 psi while being stored in the garage.  Back at 90 psi, i found much less rolling resistance from the 3.5 inch diameter, 18 inch wide metal cylinders that served as my asphalt.  In fact, after warming up, i dropped down in the rear gears and was delighted to race to nowhere at speeds of over 19 mph!  After 20 minutes i still felt good to decided to shift to the big chainring up front.  I upped the intensity to keep the same cadence and was soon flying along at nearly 24 mph, although not without significant effort.  I started to believe what i'd read on the web.

Yesterday I took another go, having done a bit more reading online about interval training on rollers.  Here's the workout:

  • 5 min WU - developing a high cadence (90-95 seems to work well for me - much lower than i'm used to on the stationary bike - but my form goes all to hell when i try to push much faster than this - something thats immediately evident on rollers)
  • 5 min gradually dropping gears until you feel your in Z2+/Z3.  This will be your rest interval zone.
  • 5x2 min WI.  I went to the hardest gear for this.  Immediately my cadence dropped to about 80-84 and within a minute i could feel the lactic acid in my quads.
  • 2 min RI after each WI.  drop back down to the gearing that you used for the second 5 minutes of the warm up and try to maintain that pace, focusing on recovering in Z2/3, rather than Z1
  • Set a goal of matching or exceeding your first WI's speed on every subsequent WI.  Initially i thought this would be hard, but i ended up doing one better and slightly improving the speed for each of the WI by focusing on my breath, a smooth pedal stroke, and cadence.  
  • 2+ min after last WI just gear down super easy and spin until HR lowers.  
I liked this workout because by the end i felt pretty badass  - mainly because of the inflated sense of speed the roller seems to give when you're working hard (i hit 32 mph during the last WI).  I had to bring myself back to reality by remembering that even if riding rollers was approximate to riding a dead flat course outside, the lack of wind in my basement would make my effort correspond to riding that flat road with a 32 mph tailwind.  And of course the faster i go, the faster that tailwind - a strange notion.  Next time i'm going to shoot for 39 mph and pretend i'm racing away from a tropical storm. 

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