The cycling season is quickly approaching. Here in Colorado the unofficial season opener, the Frostbite TT, is only week away. Getting in shape for this season, whether your goal is to be competitive in some local crits and TTs or to simply make it up a mountain bike trail without hucking, takes planning and the right tools. The only way to know whether you are getting faster and stronger is to measure your progress. It is all about data, how you collect said data and most importantly how you crunch the numbers.
Here is what I use to get in shape when the weather outside won’t allow me to hit the pavement.
Strava is my go to training diary and it can be used year round. In a few short clicks I can upload data from my Garmin cycling computer and input a little data about the ride. Strava takes all that data and spits out beautiful maps, elevation profiles, speed over the course of the ride, heart rate, etc… It even spits out a suffer score and will calculate your wattage output during the ride. If you don’t have a GPS enabled cycling computer you can use the Strava app (iTunes & Android) to record all the data with the added benefit of being able to view your data on the device itself.
What really makes Strava shine is that it gives you the opportunity to game-ify your training. You can compete for KOM badges over segments of local rides.
Kinetic Road Machine Trainer
I prefer to ride on the open roads, but when the bike lane is covered with a foot of snow or worse and inch of gravel in its place the best way to train is to throw my bike on my Kinetic Road Machine. Fluid trainers automatically adjust resistance in response to speed, just like the effort curve you go through when trying to slice through wind on the road. The Kinetic Road Machine is not just a good fluid trainer though, thanks to the ability to add or remove a 12 lb flywheel you can easily and quickly adapt the trainer for either sprinting (flywheel off for quick spinup and down) or cruising (flywheel on for long miles and the ability to coast).
The Garmin Edge 510 is the ultimate compact, feature rich bicycle computer. I’m still using the less colorful but fantastic 500 and I couldn’t train without it. The 510 finds satellites faster and in more heavily covered areas thanks for GLONASS satellite connectivity, has a full color touch-enabled screen and Bluetooth and Ant+ connectivity for speed, cadence, heart rate and power data. Picking up the Performance Bundle which comes with the speed/cadence sensor and heart rate monitor is a must to maximize training potential. The speed/cadence sensor will allow you to record those metrics when riding a stationary trainer and the heart rate monitor will allow you to track one of the most important metrics known to endurance sports.
CycleOps PowerTap G3 Hub
If you want to get real serious about training and don’t mind dropping some serious dough a power meter is a must. CycleOps PowerTap G3 hubs provide pro-level power management in a lighter, stiffer, ANT+ compatible package with +/- 1.5% accuracy.
The ultimate training partner, Netflix. I’ve just about finished off all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica this winter.