Training for long-distance cycling adventures

Pond on 8 Mile road

I have not been on any of my bikes on a regular basis in almost a year. I have not been riding my road bike at full speed since my hip replacement in 2016. I made several attempts to test my right hip on my road bike to see if it was “normal” and it was not feeling 100%. So I rode around on my commuter bike and walked a lot and let my hip heal on its own time.

The true test of my hip was standing up and pedaling up some of the slight hills out on Leary Road. My left hip was always pushing faster than my right hip and it was awkward having the imbalance of power in my riding. At the start of 2019, I finally feel like I can start training because my injured hip feels really strong.

I have been down the road of starting from not being in shape on my bike and working to get up to speed quite a few time in my life. My last two times of starting training were due to cycling accidents, one with a car which almost killed me and this latest incident which is my own fault of plain dumb luck.

My training for long distance riding is simple. I like to think of it as a method of incremental distance training. Back in 2015 when I was riding with the PCP race team I used the team as a slingshot. I would ride with them as far as I could until I got dropped, then I would keep riding a route until I got back home. I also used this method when I was a trail runner and some folks call it hitting the wall. I like to think of it as hitting the wall and going through it.

So what do I mean when I say hitting the wall and going through it. Well, my main goal when I am training for distance is not to increase my speed, but to increase my stamina and distance first. If I can increase the time that I am on the bike and the distance that I ride, then over time I will increase my speed. For me riding at the same pace, all of the time will not improve my strength or speed so I use the slingshot approach and strive to hit the wall each time I am on a training ride.

The slingshot method works two ways, I either keep up with faster riders until I am exhausted, or I decide on an average pace on my own and ride it for as far as I can until I hit the wall. Hitting the wall is when I feel that I cannot continue to ride at the fast pace and I just slow down to a comfortable pace and continue until I get home. Over time I will ride a little further each time before I hit the wall and eventually I will find myself riding 100 miles at a decent pace. Sometimes I nick-name hitting the wall with seeing how fast I can get to mile 80 on a century ride. In the past, the feeling of mile 80 would hit me on mile 40 of a 50-mile ride. On my ride, last night mile 80 hit me on mile 20 of my 31-mile ride. I have a long way to go to get back into shape, but that is part of the game that I play.

Lonnie Wormley

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