INFRARED SPORTSWEAR POWERED BY PROGRESS

Time to Read

7 minutes

Talking Points

  • Using the tail wind
  • Slip-streaming
  • Training guidance
  • Plan your rest beforehand
  • Learn the segment

 

Want to smash your best times on Strava or are you hunting for that elusive KOM or QOM on your local roads?

There are some quick and easy ways to do this, and a few that involve a bit more hard work.

Here’s our guide to getting PR’s on those key segments in your Strava feed.

THE QUICK WINS

1. Time it for a tailwind

If your strava segment is on a largely straight road, it makes sense to try to get your best time on it when you have a favourable wind. Your speed will vastly increase when you’re not battling a wind whipping into your face, and so you give yourself a head-start by simply choosing the correct day to make your attempt on a PB.

 

There’s an app that help you correlate wind directions onto Strava segments. Check out mywindsock to give yourself easy seconds, for free.

2. Recruit some help

There’s a reason why professional teams shelter their lead rider or sprinter by clustering around and in front of them...

The effect of slip-streaming means that a rider sat ‘on the wheel’ of another can pedal approximately 40% easier and maintain the same speed as the rider in front. This is because the rider in front is displacing air ‘on behalf’ of the sheltered rider.

Wind resistance can account for up to 80% of the resistive force that we have to overcome when riding, so eliminating this will save the protected rider (in this case, you) huge amounts of energy.

As such, if you can assemble a handful of ride-mates to ‘lead you out’ at full pace in the early part of the segment, you can sit in their slip-stream and preserve your energy.

Then, when they’ve peeled off, you’ll be totally fresh and ready to give it everything in those all-important final meters to the line.

THE SERIOUS APPROACH

3. Specific training efforts

To do your best at something, whether it be an exam or a bike ride, you need to practice it. Training effectively is the key to making the most of your training time.

If you’re looking to get a PB on a particular segment, you should have an approximate idea of what your best time on that section could be. That is, a few seconds or minutes less than your current best time. Having this approximate time in mind will enable you to focus your training.

For example;

If your effort is relatively short, say 30 minutes or less, the best way to improve your power over that given duration is by riding full gas for around 70% of the estimated time of the effort. So, if you think your segment PB is 10 minutes, ride full gas for 7 minutes. When you have done this, spin easily for twice the time of the interval you just performed in order to recover fully, then repeat the cycle twice more.

So, in this example, the workout would be:

  • Warm up
  • 7 minutes ON
  • 14 minutes OFF
  • 7 minutes ON
  • 14 minutes OFF
  • 7 minutes ON
  • 14 minutes OFF
  • Cool down
  • Lay down!

 

However, this approach is impractical if the segment attempt is over 30 minutes as it will take too long and be fatiguing.

For a longer segment, it’s best to perform two intervals at most, for a duration closer to the estimated PB time, perhaps 80-90% of the potential time of your effort. So, if your effort is estimated to be 60 minutes, you may perform two intervals of 80% this duration, which is 48 minutes.

In this case, give yourself a recovery period of easy riding for approximately the same duration as the interval itself.

As such, the training session would be:

  • Warm up
  • 48 minutes ON
  • 48 minutes OFF
  • 48 minutes ON
  • Cool down
  • Lay down!

 

Further, consider the terrain when planning your training.

If your target segment is a steep hill, you will need to adapt your muscles to the slightly different demands of climbing, and the lower cadence required.

As such, if you’re training indoors, set a resistance on your trainer that will enable you to perform your training efforts at a similarly low cadence.  

Likewise, when you’re training outside, try to perform practice efforts on a hill of a similar gradient. This will prepare your body, and the muscles involved in climbing, for the effort itself.

 

You should also consider whether you plan to climb seated or out of the saddle.

Standing in the pedals typically enables you to generate a lot more power, which will move you faster.

However, the downside is that riding like this, places your body under a lot more physiological strain, so will cause your heart rate to rise rapidly, putting you at risk of blowing up.

As such, you need to work out which is the best approach for you.

Typically, it’s best to save the standing effort for the final section of the climb, so you can totally empty the tank without worry of going too hard too early in the effort.

4. Go in fresh

Needless to say, you’re going to get the best from your body when you’re most fresh, meaning you need to plan the days before your big effort appropriately.

If your target segment is relatively short, say 60 minutes or less, you needn’t ‘taper’ fully. However, you want to go into the ride well rested.

Try the following schedule:

  • D-3: Practice effort at around 90% full gas
  • D-2: Rest
  • D-1: Short and easy ride, with one effort at the intensity that you hope to hold for the segment attempt, but for around 30% of the estimated length of time.
  • D-0: GO GO GO!

 

The above schedule gives your body time to rest and be fully ready for the big effort ahead, but keeps your system moving and ready to fire. The short effort on the day prior to the attempt lets you open the legs and fire up your energy systems.

 

If the effort is longer, say 60 minutes or more, you may require a longer rest to get the best out of your body.

If this is the case, try the following schedule:

  • D-4: Practice effort at around 90% full gas
  • D-3: Easy ride
  • D-2: Rest
  • D-1: Short and easy ride, with one effort at the intensity that you hope to hold for the segment attempt, but for around 30% of the estimated length of time.
  • D-0: GO GO GO!

 

Like the above, this structure balances rest with staying fresh and sharp. However, there’s a little more of an easy period between your final practice effort and the main attempt. The key reason behind this is not just to ensure you’re ultra-rested, but also to give your muscle stores time to fully load with glycogen.

5. Get to know the segment as much as you can

When pro cyclists are preparing for a key race or time trial, they make sure they know the course inside out.

Knowing how sharp the turns are, the particular gradients and where any dangers may be such as potholes, is essential to ensuring that you can get a PB over that stretch.

Having intimate knowledge of the road means you understand how to pace the effort, and where in the road to ride.

 

It’s typically best to pace an effort so that you’re putting out the most power where you foresee yourself riding slowest. This means that you prevent too much variation in pace and keep good momentum.

So, for example, if your segment is rolling, i.e. up and down, and contains steep sections within it, you want to aim to expend the most effort on those steep sections, and go a touch easier to recover on the flatter sections.

Similarly, if you understand the bends in the road, you can work out the best line to take through them, and how fast you can take them, whilst remaining safe.

Obviously, to get the best time possible, you need to go as easy on the brakes as possible, so avoid sudden sharp braking through the bends, and look to ‘flow’ through them as much as possible.

6. Clothing

You need to take every possible marginal gain you have available to you when you’re going for your PB.

As such, you want clothing that will optimise your performance.

Our top-of-the-range Pr02 collection is designed to provide you with comfort, performance, and aerodynamics benefits, all in one garment.

Wearing our bib shorts and jersey will give you an aerodynamic profile, which will minimise wind resistance and gain you time. While the infrared technology in the fabric will keep your muscles oxygenated and better able to transport fuel to the muscles, and carry metabolic waste such as lactate away from the muscles, thus helping you ride the hardest you can.

Good Luck!

Further Reading

If you are looking to improve your cycling performance check out these blogs

Core exercises for cyclists

Increasing cycling endurance

Improved cycling recovery

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