Training for the Flats
The topic for today is riding or racing on flat courses. The reason I chose this topic is that today I rode for a couple of hours on a portion of the course of the Beach to Battleship Iron and half distance triathlon that will be held here in Wilmington, North Carolina. I remembered that riding on flat roads is not easy.
For those of us who do most of our riding in So Cal, it is frequently up, up, up and then down, down, down. It is not often that we really have an opportunity to cruise on a flat steady road. Riding here today in Wilmington on the flats roads I was quickly reminded of how difficult it is to hold a 20-25mph pace for an extended period of time. A flat course offers little opportunity to relax rest and cruise. The need for pacing on a flat course is of utmost importance and so is wheel choice.
When riding on a flat course you will need to maintain your cadence throughout the ride because there is nowhere to coast. It takes a great deal of physical and mental energy to keep your cranks going all day long. So, to overcome any of the shortfalls and minor mental breakdowns you will have, go slow. I know, I know, some of you studs out there think I am crazy but if you think you are going to ride 112 miles at 25 mph and not be on someone’s payroll, you are the ones who are crazy. Start slower than you think you should, build into a rhythm and maintain that rhythm. I guarantee you will be better off using this approach than someone who hasn’t.
Choosing the right wheels to race a flat course is also important. The minor inconvenience of slowing down on a flat course is often followed by the desire to speed up. A light wheel will accelerate faster than a heavy one and therefore help you do so. So, just in case you are the person who signed up for the flat course in order to set a speed record and you begin to fail miserably because you didn’t pace yourself, at least when you stand up and sprint for a 100 meters your wheelset won’t be holding you back and your 112 mile tempo ride that turned into a 112 mile sprint workout will be just a tad easier.
The take away from all of this is that for a flat course race; maintain a steady tempo and your training workouts for these flat course races should include such efforts. While riding flat courses be sure to occasionally stand up and relieve your nether regions as flat courses tend to have a numbing effect on our sensitive parts.
Written by Matt Simpson