Hopefully you have some goals by now, so how are you going to achieve them? Delegate!
Regardless of your goal, you will need to get in shape, and pedaling that the LifeCycle in the gym while watching CNN is never going to do it. Hopping on your bike and hitting the road will only take you so far. You need to ride with a group.
There are many benefits to working out with others. First, it is motivating. I am a member of Team Lick Cancer, about 100 people working together to end cancer by supporting the Pan Mass Challenge and the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. This means that every weekend a bunch of buddies are hitting the road. They are very social making the rides more enjoyable. If I miss the ride, I’ll feel bad about letting them down.
Next, the best way to get stronger is to ride with someone stronger. On your own, you will probably train in “the death zone” where your maximum heart rate is 80-85%. Isn’t that good enough? Sorry, you need to push yourself into the 90s to really make a difference. Even if your weekly group is made of people at the same general fitness level as you, someone will attack the next hill, and you need to go after them. Sprint for those town line signs a few times and you will be exhausted tonight, but your fitness will start to increase. Better yet, you will make friends and chat away the hours, until the next hill rolls up.
Another great source for training partners is all the local clubs. No, I don’t mean Studio 54, I’m talking about the Nashoba Valley Pedalers and the Charles River Wheelmen. They have a full calendar of rides for people of all abilities. For about what you spend on innertubes you could join a club and have a spectrum of rides to choose from.
Lastly, riding in a group is more efficient than riding solo. If you just want to burn calories, who care? When you want to join a large ride like a century, the miles will pass more quickly in a pack. Plus when you flat for the third time, it is nice to have some sympathy and spare tubes from other cyclists.
Training tip of the week – think LSD, Long, Slow Distance, not £sd. Leave the heart rate monitor at home and just log some miles. The most important thing to condition is your backside. Talk with friends, make sure your bike is working well, and burn calories with low effort.