Sunday, February 15, 2015

(More!) Base Miles on the Trainer

The importance of long steady distance (LSD) training for endurance athletes early in the season has been well-documented. Several years ago, I began organizing my training around a periodization model outlined by Joe Friel in The Cyclist's Training Bible that combines base miles with interval training in the early season to lay down a strong foundation for endurance and speed later in the season. The trouble is, at the exact moment that LSD training would be most useful, the temperatures plunge into the single digits (or worse!), the snows kick in and black ice covers the surfaces of many of the local backroads. In other words, it's just about impossible to get out safely in February to lay down the kind of base that would be most helpful to a strong endurance engine come July. This is where a good indoor trainer is essential in upstate New York where I live.

It's pretty easy to get onto the trainer for an hour or so here and there, but while interval work is critical for early season training, these short rides don't do much to lay down a mileage base. That's where Troy Jacobson's Spinervals series has been a godsend. Each winter, these DVDs have enabled me to extend my time on the indoor trainer significantly and as a result, establish base miles while the roads are still too hazardous. The discs I find most helpful for this purpose are the "Virtual Reality" DVDs that essentially follow Troy, and in some cases a few friends, over assorted iron distance courses filmed in mild weather. Staring at my laptop on the card table in front of the trainer is surprisingly absorbing as Troy barks commands regarding gears and levels of exertion. The courses and lengths of each of the discs vary, but each typically clocks in at about three hours and covers 50-60 miles. Today I rode in Madison, Wisconsin whereas last week it was Lake Placid, New York.

Nothing compares to simply riding on the open roads, but when the thermometer doesn't rise above 30F for weeks on end and snow storms blanket the roads, other strategies are required. While I'm carefully watching the forecast and hoping to get out to ride a 100K permanent next weekend, it's good to know that my training won't suffer if another storm heads into town (which is more than likely).


  1. I'm over in NW CT and have been doing the exact same thing. I worked on a 200k plan from Training Peaks and rode that pretty well down in FL, Now I'm on Joe's 12 week century plan, but the weather, even for the Fat Bike has been brutal. This dictates indoor sessions on the new Wahoo a Kicker, the best trainer I've ever used.
    I too, use Spinervals, but can't get used to the virtual ones.
    Hopefully we get a heatwave and it all melts soon!

  2. Hey z-man - I feel you pain. Good to know I'm not alone. This winter has been particularly brutal. Where is that thaw we always seem to get about now? While a fat bike looks like loads of fun, if I brought one more bike into my life, I'd be living in the shed myself! Wishing you all the best for a great season. Can't believe that the first brevet on my calendar is only a month away!

  3. I did the Lake Placid one myself the other day but only did two hours of it. Hard to put down base when the roads are covered with snow. Any interest in designing a route to go from your house to the Hostel?

    Contact me if you need another rider for a team.

    Jim Bondra