Riding at a moderate and fairly even intensity will benefit your bike fitness no end – but you could use your time on the track to boost it more.
You can’t do hill intervals and you can’t use gears to increase the resistance, but there are certainly sessions you can do to mix your riding up some more.
First, you could simply use your track time for riding tempo (based on your description, it might be that you’re already doing this). Essentially, this means that after a 10min warm-up you should ride at a medium intensity for about 40mins, before cooling down for 10mins.
Tempo intensity is higher than the steady aerobic level that you could maintain comfortably all day while doing a long ride on the road, but not so high that you start gasping for breath straight away. If you’ve not done it before, start with 20mins of tempo and build up the time gradually.
I’d be more inclined, though, to use the session for interval training, particularly as your events draw nearer. After a thorough warm-up, gradually increase your riding intensity over a couple of mins, going slightly beyond the point where you’re breathing comfortably and into the area where your breathing becomes laboured.
When you start to feel it, gradually back off the intensity, again over a couple of mins, until your breathing is comfortable and controlled again. As soon as you’re at that point, begin the process again.
Continue this cycle for 20mins. Increase the duration by 5mins every week until it takes up the entire hour (minus your warm-up and cool-down).
Another effective session is to ride for 4mins so that you’re labouring for breath at the end of the interval. Then recover by pedalling easy for a couple of minutes before going again. Start off with three work periods on your first session and increase by one until you’re at six or seven.
Finally, you can use your track time for a threshold session. After a warm-up, you’re going to hold race pace for an extended period to get ready for your events. You want to ride at a challenging intensity, but one you can maintain.
Start at 20mins and increase gradually week by week until you’re at 40mins. This is great race preparation, but don’t attempt it until you have some interval sessions behind you first.
The bottom line is that you need to push beyond your comfort zone on a regular basis to benefit from your time on the track.
(Images: Jonny Gawler / iStockPhoto)
For lots more bike drills and advice head to our Training section