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BIKE
THRESHOLD INTERVALS
In my racing days, we just did intervals. And intervals always meant riding very hard. Now, as a coach with a much greater volume of experience, I know that ‘intervals’ simply mean a varying set of intermittent efforts with varying work-to-recovery ratio. This opens the door to a world of possibilities.


Race effort intervals were, at that time, threshold intervals. Sets of intervals consist of 5-20 minutes with short recoveries (1-5 minutes). These intervals are relevant for all race distances, especially short course athletes. Pushing your threshold higher, whether based on heart rate, power or perceived exertion, helps your body learn to buffer lactic acid, improve speed and power and trains your mind to handle the pain of a hard race effort. Threshold efforts give a lot of ‘bang for the buck’ as they are easier to recover from and not as taxing on the body as VO2 max intervals.


When I coached Matt Chrabot during his ITU career, threshold sets were a staple of his training plan and a robust measure of his fitness and race readiness. During this time, he was one of the athletes who was instrumental in keeping the pressure on the field to really race the bike leg.


 


GROUP RIDES
There are many levels of group rides, even for new cyclists. The ability and opportunity to ride with others helps grow your skills and fitness. You get faster when you train with those who are faster than you and you learn to improve your bike-handling skills. Group riding supports preparation even for non-draft races. If you’re racing draft-legal, group rides are a must!


When we first moved the resident program to Scottsdale, Arizona, from Colorado Springs, one of the first rides the athletes did was the long, local group ride. This helped them learn the roads, meet the local cyclists and work on their group riding skills. We pushed the envelope and had them ride at night to a weekly criterium style group ride on a closed loop course. Katie Zaferes, Chelsea Burns and Kevin McDowell’s skills, fitness and confidence soared after conquering these rides. It’s exhilarating to ride under the lights on a summer night.


USATRIATHLON.ORG | USA TRIATHLON | 25

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