By Ron Berry Master Physical Therapists
PHASE IV is creating a team for Ride Santa Barbara October 19, 2019; a series of various distance rides through the lovely region around Santa Barbara. This is a super fun event, especially when shared with friends, and we invite you to join us, because you’re fitter than you think!
Riding 62 miles, a metric Century 100 km, or 100 miles on a bicycle may seem like a daunting task. If you haven’t been riding anywhere close to these distances, or riding somewhat inconsistently, the notion of riding 100 km might cause hesitation. You may ask yourself, “Is it possible, in 8 weeks, to enjoy bicycling for 4 to 5 hours, is my fitness level and exercise or activity program where it needs to be?”
To answer that question, we consider what those other sport or exercise activities have been. To bicycle for 4 hours one must have a certain level of general aerobic fitness. Cross over activities and exercise including hiking, running, swimming, paddle boarding, rowing, or playing recreation sports, may provide the aerobic fitness you need, and can serve as good preparation for a ramp up in cycling. You’ve been cross-training!
Some common exercise methods are better at developing aerobic fitness than others. Hiking, especially on hilly trails like those in the Santa Monica mountains, has a lot of carry-over to cycling and developing one’s aerobic capacity. The medium intensity effort of walking up a steady hill is excellent at keeping the recreational athlete in a fat burning level of exertion. Also, the muscles used in hiking are similar to cycling: the quads, the calves, gluteals, and perhaps most important and under appreciated, the hamstrings as hip extensors. Also, hiking forces us to adapt to walking on varied terrain and keeps our torsos upright at various angles, which ultimately, is great functional core strengthening. In addition, as we increase our cycling mileage it is often a challenge for the spine to stay comfortable, so any exercise that strengthens our core muscles is good preparation for cycling!
Running obviously builds one’s aerobic capacity, and running also builds critical leg strength. What is commonly believed is that cycling works primarily the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thighs, whereas running works mostly the hamstrings in the back of the thighs; this has a lot to do with the person’s technique of cycling and running, which we will get in to in future articles, but, generally, I believe this to be true. Balancing that leg power is key.
The critical achievement of cross-training is balanced strength and flexibility. Balanced use of front and back muscle groups is essential in avoiding injury and achieving your full fitness potential. While runners’ hamstrings are already strong, proper cycling technique will increase the strength of their quads. After 2 months of increased cycling, pushing down and pulling through the bottom of the pedal rotation, strength and endurance potential increases because you are training “balanced” leg strength.
Triathletes know that running and swimming both benefit cycling. Countless triathletes have prepared for an event without enough time to get on the bike as much as they would like. They focused on their training runs, and still did fine on the bike portions of their event. If one has the aerobic base, it is definitely possible to do well on the bike even if the training was concentrated mostly on running. When the cycling technique is balanced, and the push to achieve the finish line is strategic, finishing the Santa Barbara 100 in good form is possible.
There are many exercise methods that are great cross training for cycling and can serve as good preparation for a ramp up in cycling. Rowing is a great leg and trunk strengthening activity. Consistent rowers have some of the best aerobic abilities of all athletes. Swimming and stand up paddling are great for developing endurance and strength because the trunk muscles used in these activities are critical in maintaining posture, form, and balance, and are also intricate in the achievement of power. Swimmers typically achieve more flexibility than someone who just rides a bike. Flexibility provides the comfort necessary to ride for hours. Yoga and Pilates, share some of these attributes although they may not be as valuable in developing true endurance. Participating in recreational soccer as well as other team sports have many crossover attributes as well.
But, there is no replacement for specific sport training. If you want to ride 100 km, or 100 miles, with hills, you need to ride some long distances. I would estimate a long ride of at least 75% of your ultimate distance. So, with this as a rule, one should at least be able to ride 47 miles to do a metric Century. This is a very doable 8 week goal to build up to. PHASE IV will show you how.
If you enjoy team work, camaraderie, and your own balance of physical activity, we invite you to join the PHASE IV team and begin incorporating cycling training in your exercise program. Whether you choose the Santa Barbara 34 miles flat, the 62 miler with or without the big climb, or the 100 mile Century, rest assured that you may be more ready for this event than you think! The team at PHASE IV provides the guidance you need to build your cycling fitness and technique for a great bike adventure through Santa Barbara. No matter where your starting point is, eight weeks will get you to the finish line!
Call 310-582-8212 to commence your individualized training program, or email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re looking forward to your participation!