Most triathletes need to make every minute of training count. For most of us it’s all about getting the greatest possible benefit from everything we do. With this in mind, surely going for a long group bike ride at the weekend should be considered a waste of time?
Well, not necessarily….
Though it is true that you are likely to see greater fitness gains in a shorter space of time through doing short interval sessions on the bike, the long ride shouldn’t be completely written out of your training plan.
In the same way that it’s important to do the occasional long run and swim to compliment your interval training, your body needs to experience long rides in order to prepare for what it’ll face on race day. When you go for a long group ride you will experience hills, fast flat sections, you’ll ride against the wind, with the wind and in your fellow rider’s slip stream. You are also likely to keep a high leg cadence for 3,4 or 5 hours. The variation and length of these long rides will improve your bike handling, your economy and make sure you are fully comfortable with your equipment. Afterall, most saddles feel comfortable if you are only in them for 30 mins!
Riding with Others
For most triathletes, training can be a very lonely pastime. More than anything, riding with others is the best chance you’re going to get to socialize with like-minded people whilst also getting some training in. This is essential if you are to maintain your motivation levels.
A lot of triathletes decide not to do any sort of group riding on basis that drafting isn’t part of the triathlon ride. Why do something in training that you aren’t allowed to do on race day?
Though this is a valid point, drafting isn’t the only benefit of riding in a group. If you are riding with a group of riders of a similar fitness level for 3 or 4 hours, your average leg speed is going to be much higher than if would have been if you’d gone for a ride on your own. This means you will get a much better workout and experience greater fitness gains through riding with others. Though this may be counteracted as soon as someone suggests going for a beer afterwards!
Going for a long bike ride through beautiful countryside with a group of friends is one of the main reasons people ride bikes. Don’t make the mistake of seeing every ride only for the fitness gains it gives you. Sometimes you’ve got to enjoy yourself too!