April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The last six weeks before an Ironman triathlon are intense. There’s a workout almost every day. The bike segment of the race is the largest part, so naturally, the bike workouts are the longest workouts.


Bike workouts are divided into recovery, interval and long.

Recovery rides are just that, a chance to recover from an exhausting training. The simple act of easy pedaling helps your body to flush the toxins that build up in your legs during an intense workout.

Limited to just 30 minutes, these rides are done, inside the house on the bike trainer.

(Bike trainer?)

My racing bike is mounted on a brace that applies resistance to the back wheel.

(Sounds boring.)

It was, in the beginning. In 2012, I set up the bike in the garage and looked at the walls.

(Sounds like torture.)

It was. Then, I heard that friends were watching movies. So, I set it up in the living room and it wasn’t so bad.

We had cable, so I had something to watch.

(Didn’t you once take too long and your family started dinner without you?)

They set up a plate and silverware on me, as I cycled.

(Do they still do that?)

No, now I set the bike up in the guest room and I stream shows while I spin…which brings me to the intervals.

An interval ride can last from 45 minutes to three hours.

(Sounds painful.)

It is, but it is the way to maximize your training. By forcing your legs to ride a series of very fast intervals, you can become a stronger cyclist.

(But what is an interval?)

Intervals are a section of time. A bike interval is a series of steps. The bottom steps are your slow speeds, the top steps are your harder/faster speeds.

(So, you ride slow for a few minutes and fast for a few and then back to the slow ones?)

Yes. After a few weeks the top steps get easier to reach, so you make them higher, or the duration on them longer.

Now, long rides are outside.

(Why are intervals inside?)

There is a display screen on my handlebars that gives me data: How fast I am going; how long I have been going; how many watts of power I am cranking out. All of that data must be monitored when you do intervals to stay on the correct steps. You do not want to be looking at a screen while you cycle outside.

(So, if you are watching the screen, how do you watch shows?)

It’s really more listening than watching. If an interval segment is two minutes long, I will sneak a peek at the show. If the segment is longer, I will watch.

(But aren’t you worried about missing a step?)

The bike computer gives warning beeps that a step change is five seconds away.

Long rides are done outside and they can cover over 100 miles.

(In how many days?)

Ummm, half a day. The whole race is only 17 hours long. I like riding up 9W, which is a roadway parallel to the Hudson River. Starting at my house, I ride north past the Mario Cuomo Bridge.

(The Tappan Zee Bridge.)

Over several hills until I reach Bear Mountain State Park. The park first opened in 1913, but it was during the Great Depression of the 1930s that many of the pathways were cleared by New Deal workers.

(Hence, the paths are named for New Deal project managers, like Perkins Drive which leads to the park’s summit.)

To reach the summit, I turned left off 9W and pedal up the mountain.

(How far up?)

It took me almost 45 minutes to ride up 1,268 feet of elevation.

(Is 1,268 feet a lot?)

It is the bicycle equivalent of climbing the Empire state building…and you don’t want to stop. If you do stop on the side of this mountain, it is so hard to restart. Once you start the accent, you are always climbing up. There are no flat sections. This is a meandering tree lined road that never lets you see the top, so you feel like the climb is never ending.

(How far was that?)

About 4.6 miles straight up.

(But why such a tortuous ride?)

Better to train on a bike course that is harder than the one I am going to race on…in 27 days.

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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