Sunday, May 4, 2008

Force work in the hills

This past Friday (5/2) I did the first force focussed workout I've done since I hurt myself. The Cyclist's Training Bible F1 workout is an introductory force focussed workout. As you progress through the training phases, the force workouts graduate to F2 and F3.

F1 is moderate hills, the goal being to start out with an hour workout where you ride several hills of up to a 6% grade that take up to 3 minutes to ascend. The biggest goal in this workout is to stay seated on all climbs and concentrate on pedaling from the hips. Each week you add 15 minutes or so to the total workout time.

F2 is long hills; up to 8% grades and 6 minute climbs.

F3 is steep hills; more than 8% grades and 2 minute climbs.

Personally I find that these time guidelines are for babies. For the F1 workouts I normally do repeats up and down the north 101 climb of Torrey Pines. It's about a 5% grade that takes between 8 and 8.5 minutes to climb. So for an hour workout I ride from my place down to the foot of the climb, do 4 repeats and ride back home.

Having not done this sort of work in a while it's easy to forget what it's like to pedal well. When you're riding on rolling hills and flatter ground it's easy to get into the habit of applying the majority of your force in the bottom of your quads. By concentrating on pedaling from the hips you really start to work the muscles in your upper thighs, something I haven't done in a long, long time. Even going out Saturday for my 2.5 hour endurance ride I could tell I was pedaling a lot better. I was getting a lot more power from the upward portion of my pedal stroke and my legs were feeling stronger.

Four weeks from now I'll replace the F1 workout with some F2 work. Typically I do F2 work on Mount Palomar. This is a steeper climb where one can really focus on going up hills fast. Typically when I do these I start at the bottom of the south approach and climb for 10 minutes, ride back down for 3 to recover and repeat for as long as I need to. For those who haven't read last year's post on Mount Palomar, you can view it here.

As long as I continue to feel strong, the F3 workouts will probably happen the steeper Torrey Pines coast climb. That climb is shorter and steeper than the highway. It's more like 4.5 minutes to the top.

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