by Vic Caldarola
Potomac Pedalers is a club made up of diverse groups of riders. We are riders of many levels of speed, skill and purpose. We ride to meander along neighborhood trails, to go fast, to socialize with other cycling enthusiasts, and to get around town. At one time or other during my life, I have been each of these riders. Yet there is one thing that almost all of us have in common. We all want to improve the way we bicycle, whatever that may mean for you. Because with a little more skill and stamina, we can all ride further, move faster and have a lot more fun.
Trust me – you have participated in training rides without knowing it. Ever find yourself cycling with a group that is just a little faster than you? And you try really hard to keep up? Ever approach certain steep hills with a sinking heart and less stamina than you wished you had? A training ride is all about attitude and the desire to improve – or at least conquer that hill you’ve been avoiding!
I had become a roadie following seven years of mountain biking, which I soon discovered was pretty good training for me now as a road cyclist. Last year I signed on as a ride leader and began leading rides at what was then my ride level, CC on a good day. I also continued my weekly obsession with the short, after work training ride, and soon found a ride buddy and training partner, Martine, another CC ride leader. She was also was game to improve her riding, so once a week after work, we would set out for about an hour to an hour and a half of riding, or what was really a series of brief intervals. Over a 20 mile out-and-back route, we used the terrain to build in 7 or 8 training intervals, most twice repeated – hill climbing, flat section sprints of about 30 seconds, high speed descents, and so on. Each was an all-out, peak performance, paying attention to good form, followed by a short rest interval. By the end of the season we had both advanced as riders, building aerobic capacity, strength and endurance.
This season my ride buddy and I – both of us now B level riders – began leading a version of our training ride for club members every Thursday evening – a CC/B training ride out of Laytonsville. The AA/BB group speeds out ahead of us, and we follow by pushing the limits of CC/B average pace and encouraging everyone to go at it just a little harder, and for a little longer than usual. An hour and twenty minutes later we return sweaty, breathless, and grinning. Training is for everyone, make no mistake. Even a D or C rider can do some short sprints to increase their riding. My ride buddy Martine Palmiter and I just celebrated our first anniversary as life partners. Not that’s some fine training!
Want to lead a ride but not sure what to do? We can pair you with a Ride Leader Mentor or someone to co-lead a ride with you. Contact Martine Palmiter or Linda Kolko for details.