How I Plan to Improve the Bike

How I Plan to Improve the Bike

There was a time when I had a totally flexible schedule. I had my own personal training business for 4 1/2yrs while I lived in Chicago and since I didn’t work a typical 8hr day, I had plenty of time to workout. πŸ™‚ It was awesome! Since making the leap to move out to California about 4 1/2yrs ago, things quickly changed when I took on a full time job. But, even more so 2yrs ago when I started working at a digital marketing agency – Internet Marketing Inc. Agency life is not so flexible, so getting in my workouts has been harder than previously. Plenty of time to workout, but not the way I used to which consisted of about 17-22hr workout weeks. In a lot of ways, toning it down to only 7-14hrs (on average) made me start to feel lazy. haha. Isn’t it weird how that happens? It’s craziness! I mean 7hrs is lazy? But, whatever, it’s the mind of the triathlete. Ya know?

With all that being said, I want to maximize my training and make sure that I am continually improving, even though I don’t have the same amount of time that I used to. Bring in the trainer. When I lived in Chicago, I did almost all of my bike workouts on the trainer. Seriously. I lived downtown and riding the lake path was great for an easy spin, but not so much for a hard workout or a long one. When I moved out here, I was introduced to the outdoor riding life. With the weather being so beautiful here in San Diego, the trainer started to get left in the dust. With the bike being my focus this year, I knew I needed to ride more, and I don’t always have time to go out for long rides. I mean you gotta put in the hours to improve in riding – and not just a few hours – it’s the sport that has the longest workout duration than any of the others. But, unfortunately I can’t do lots of long rides. It’s just not in the schedule for me. Cue – The Trainer!

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Lately, I’ve been bringing back the trainer workouts and it’s paying off. I have a new CycleOps Powersync trainer and it’s amazing. If you haven’t used a smart trainer before, I’m telling you it’s worth it. Not only is it awesome to train with power numbers, but when you sync it with Zwift – you can ride courses and do race specific prep. It’s unreal. The trainer literally changes the tension for when you are climbing up hill or when you are going downhill or riding flat. I’m in love! (You can use CycleOps’s virtual training software but currently it’s not compatible with Macs, so I’ve been using Zwift, and it works great!).

I’m looking forward to doing at least 1 race specific trainer set each week in prep for St. George 70.3! It will be fun to see how I improve week after week leading up to the race.

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In addition, to the CycleOps Powersync Trainer, I spend a lot of my time riding with Topher – who is a phenomenal cyclist and he pushes me to be better. He is one of the big reasons why I’ve already had big gains on the bike and we are only 2 1/2 months into 2016! When you combine riding hard outside with him, and Trainer workouts, you definitely have a recipe for bike improvement! πŸ™‚ I will make sure to keep track of my improvements week after week on my trainer workouts and I will write about them here in my Workouts of the Week – weekly recap.

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All photos are by Topher Riley

My Top 6 Tips for Improving the Bike:

  1. Put in 1-2 trainer workouts per week (race specific course ideally)
  2. Ride long 1-2x per week on a hilly route (no matter what distance you are training for endurance is a great way to improve on the bike)
  3. Ride with people who are faster than you. This is a challenge for me because I hate the feeling of having people wait for me, but believe me most people don’t care and appreciate the brief 1-2min rest at the top of a long climb.
  4. When you ride hard – ride hard – don’t be afraid to truly wear yourself out and get after it to the point where you bonk. You will only find out how hard you can go if you push yourself that hard in training.
  5. Look at your heart rate – and work to put time in both in your recovery zone, your endurance zones, and your anaerobic zones. (I’m a bit of a numbers junkie, although I don’t “hold” myself to them, but I like them for seeing improvements or if I’m getting worse, or if I pushed myself too hard). It’s a good indicator of the effort you are putting in. Getting in a variety of workouts is important for longevity of continual improvement.
  6. Strength train!!! This is crucial. I have started to notice a difference on the bike, because I started strength training again. Doing specific strengthening exercises such as – side stepping with bands, squats, lunges, step ups, and more – are really important to getting stronger on the bike.

At the end of the day, know that it’s not the bike, it’s the engine on the bike. You are the power. Make it happen!

Hope you all had a great weekend of training! I had an enjoyable recovery week and will be recapping that tomorrow. πŸ™‚



  • Katie Morse

    omg. I love it!!! Lakefront Marathon is awesome. I haven’t done it, but I cheered on one of my best friends from high school a few years ago. Ironman Wisconsin is the best!!! The fans are unreal and course is beautiful. Definitely a bucket list Ironman race. Keep me posted on how it all goes! πŸ™‚

  • Samantha

    I am running the Cellcom Half Marathon in Green Bay (I am a wisco girl too) and then the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee in October. I am hoping to volunteer at the Ironman Wisconsin this year and will probably (if I haven’t already) catch the bug to do that as well!

  • Katie Morse

    Nice! Man, I did one this morning again, and got my butt kicked. haha. Right?! It’s tough, but we got this! I’m learning how to just balance and be okay with doing what I can.

  • Katie Morse

    Which half and full are you doing? Very exciting! I love it! I started out just running, too, coming from a soccer background and once I found cycling and swimming there was no turning back. haha. Feel free to ask any questions you might have! Hope you’re having a great week!

  • Thanks for this, Katie! Very timely β€” I just did a bike trainer workout earlier this morning. Just like you, I work in a similar industry: an advertising agency. Hello, not-so-fabulous work hours!

  • Samantha

    I am considering doing a triathlon in the beginning of 2017 (half my second half marathon this spring and my first full marathon in October). I currently use biking as my cross training and I swam when I was in high school – pretty much will be stalking your blog for tips and tricks. Thank you for all the advice your site provides.