week our question goes to Alison Dunlap. Alison is a certified Level II USAC
Coach and has been working with athletes for five years. She runs a coaching
business called Alison Dunlap
Coaching, and has mountain bike camps in Moab, UT through the Alison
Dunlap Adventure Camps. Alison is also a two-time Olympian, MTB World Champion,
and 13-time National Champion.
Question: I push hard the whole ride. How long do I need to ride a
trainer per session during the winter months to keep my speed and endurance up?
Answer: Riding the
trainer during the winter months is a great way to stay fit, especially if you
canít ride outside. The biggest
challenge, however, will be maintaining your endurance. More endurance means you can go on longer
rides. To maintain your endurance you
have to do long rides. That can be a
problem if youíre riding the trainer every day.
What to do? I recommend
riding your bike at least an hour every day with longer rides on the
weekends. An hour on the trainer is very
doable. 3-4hrs on the trainer is
miserable. If you are up for a long ride
on the trainer the best thing to do is break down your ride into one hour
segments. Ride for an hour and then get
off and stretch, have a snack, walk around, play with the dog etc. Then get back on the bike and only focus on
riding for another hour. Then get off
and do the same thing. Donít think about
riding for 3-4hrs. Thatís
overwhelming. Only focus on one hour at
a time. Your long ride then becomes a
bunch of short rides linked together.
If you want to maintain your endurance youíre going to have to
ride your bike a lot. The more you ride
the better your endurance will be. If
you want to be fit enough to do a 100 mile ride, then youíre going to have to
spend some long days on the trainer. If
you only need to be fit enough to do a one hour ride, then you only need to do
one hour rides on the trainer.
Maintaining your speed over the winter is much easier. To be fast on the bike you need to do lots of
short, high-intensity intervals at a high cadence. These kinds of workouts are great for the
trainer. After a quick 15 minute warm-up
you can do various sprint workouts. One
workout example is to do a 60 second sprint followed by 3-4 minutes of complete
recovery. Then do a 50 second sprint,
3-4 minute recovery, 40 second sprint, 30 seconds, and finish with a 20 second
sprint. Each sprint is an all-out max effort. You could also do a "lead-outĒ type of
interval. Start at 60rpms and then
quickly accelerate to 120rpms while remaining seated. You want to choose a gear that is hard to
accelerate but allows you to ride at 120rpms for at least half the interval. These efforts last between 10-30
seconds. Then recover for 2-3
minutes. You could do 5-10 of these
depending on your fitness level.
Training for speed and endurance couldnít be more different. To maintain both over the winter I suggest
doing a 3-4 week block of endurance training. Then switch and do a 3-4 week block of speed work. Then go back to endurance and then back to
speed. If you are able to do any kind of
group ride on the weekends then youíll be able to hit both systems by doing a
long ride with periodic hill sprints or sprints for speed limit signs.
Always remember that specificity is the name of the game. If you want to be a better hill climber then
you have to train on hills. If you want
to be faster on the bike then you have to do speed intervals. Figure out what skill you want to improve and
then match your training as close as you can to that particular skill.